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There are two Shylocks in 'The Merchant Of Venice' - the ogre and the human being: explore presentation of Shylock in the play.

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Introduction

There are two Shylocks in 'The Merchant Of Venice' - the ogre and the human being: explore presentation of Shylock in the play. When Shakespeare wrote 'The Merchant Of Venice' there was a suggestion that he was competing with a very popular play 'The Jew Of Malta' written in 1589 by Christopher Marlowe. This play treats the Jew as an evil villain and a wicked ogre. Shakespeare is not entirely free from the idea that all usurers were Jews and therefore all Jews were evil, but he does also allow us to see Shylock as a human being who has himself been wronged. Only Jews who had converted to Christianity were allowed to live in England in Shakespeare's day. Jews who practised their own religion were banned from England in 1290, so Shakespeare's audience would have thought that Shylock got off very lightly when he is made to change his religion at the end of the play, therefore it is a lot easier for a modern day audience to sympathise with Shylock. In 'The Merchant Of Venice' Shakespeare does show us a human side to Shylock: This is shown in the first scene that we are introduced to shylock, act 1 scene 3. At the start of the scene shylock is considering Antonio's circumstances and credit rating and already seems confident that he will lend Antonio the money. ...read more.

Middle

Although getting revenge on someone seems a very cruel thing to do, it is natural for humans to feel that need to get revenge if they have been wronged, therefore this shows Shylock as a human, especially all that Antonio has put him through. Later on in this scene we again feel sympathy towards Shylock as he expresses his loneliness after his daughter, Jessica, runs away from home "no sighs but of my breathing, no tears but of my shedding.", and loneliness is also a natural human emotion, we also feel sympathy towards him as he has been struck down by the double blow of losing his daughter and his money (because in those days the Elizabethans would have seen daughters as the position of their fathers, so this would have been very disrespectful.) what is more, he has lost Jessica to a Christian. However in the play we don't just see the human side to Shylock, he is also presented as an ogre. This is first seen in Act 2 scene 5, when he is first talking to his servant Launcelot and then to his daughter Jessica. When he says "there is some ill-a-brewing towards my rest, for I did dream of money bags tonight." Shakespeare presents a stereotypical picture of the money obsessed Jew and shows that everything important in shylock's life relates to money, and he then stars to order Jessica about, telling to lock up the house, as there is a masque on tonight. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is very harsh for a man that has experienced so much bad luck and now he about to be killed and Shylock is not showing any sympathy towards Antonio, he says that he will have his bond no matter what. While Nerrisa presents the Duke a letter, Shylock proceeds to sharpen his knife on the sole of his shoe which shows that he is neither sorry nor guilty about killing Antonio. Portia then begins to question Shylock, however he still will not relent and will not be merciful, and when Portia finally says to Shylock that he may take his pound of flesh, Shylock seems happy: "O noble judge, o excellent young man" This is the cruellest side we have ever seen of Shylock, however when it is revealed to him that he may not get the pound of flesh if he gets a drop of blood with it. So Shylock accepts the offer of nine thousand ducats and Antonio is free. However there is now a case against Shylock, this is when we start to feel sorry for him as he has got himself into a lot of trouble, and he says very little throughout his sentence, he is made to change his religion and we feel sympathy towards him, he claims that he is ill and leaves. In conclusion, we see equal amounts of human and ogre in Shylock, and throughout the play we see this develop. Natalie Crouchley 10A 4/28/2007 ...read more.

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