• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent does Shakespeare intend the audience to sympathize with Shylock in the Merchant of Venice?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent does Shakespeare intend the audience to sympathize with Shylock? In the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare creates an atmosphere throughout the play, which causes the audience to sympathize with Shylock. Shakespeare uses key events, and dialogue to influence the audience. At the time Shakespeare wrote his plays, and they were performed, the contemporary audience would have mainly consisted of Christians. Jews were often persecuted, as they were the minority. The Christian audience would have been quite arrogant, and Shakespeare would have had to pander to this audience, to make the play appeal to them. He did this through Shylock. In Act 3 Scene 3, Shylock tells of how he is abused by the Christians, they call him a misbeliever a cutthroat dog, they spit on his Jewish gabardine, phlegm on his beard, and they also kick him "as you spurn a stranger cur". This causes the audience to sympathize with him, as it shows, just because he is a Jew, he still has feelings, he is not just a religion, he is a human with feelings and emotions. The play appeals to a modern audience, which would be multi-racial, eliminating the effectiveness of Shakespeare's efforts to appeal to a contemporary audience, leaving the modern audience with a play that they can watch and enjoy. ...read more.

Middle

He vows never to part with it, this is relevant to creating sympathy towards Shylock, by the contrast of Portia's events, opposed to the events in Shylock's life. Portia is living blissfully, just after becoming engaged, and Shylock has lost his daughter, whom he loves immensely and he is burning for revenge. The sympathy comes from the contrast between their lives. Jessica becomes a Christian, purely for material reasons, first and foremost to distance herself from her father, who takes great pride in being a Jew. She does this in the knowledge that he will be greatly hurt by this, and shows the extent that she will go to upset her father. Despite being chiefly Christian, this event would have made the contemporary audience feel sympathy towards Shylock, as they have got to know him, and understand his character. They would, care about what happens to Shylock and know that this would cause the most harm to him, as he takes great pride in his religion. Jessica's intentions of eloping to Christianity are finally revealed in Act 2 Scene 3, in a conversation with Launcelot. ...read more.

Conclusion

This play shows that Shakespeare can subtly manipulate the audiences minds without them noticing. This shows Shakespeare's brilliance. Shakespeare throughout the play is saying to the anti-semitic audience that they should treat the Jews how they themselves, want to be treated. Shylock is The Merchant of Venice's most noteworthy figure; you could interpret him as a bloodthirsty specter, a clownish Jewish stereotype, or a tragic figure whose sense of decency has been fractured by the persecution he endures. Certainly, Shylock is the play's antagonist, and he is menacing enough to imperil seriously the happiness of Venice's businessmen and young lovers alike. Shylock is also, however, a creation of circumstance, and even in his single-minded pursuit of a pound of flesh, his frequent mentions of the cruelty he has endured at Christian hands make it hard for us to label him a natural born monster. In one of Shakespeare's most famous monologues, Shylock argues that Jews are humans and calls his quest for vengeance the product of lessons taught to him by the cruelty of Venetian citizens. On the other hand, Shylock's coldly calculated attempt to revenge the wrongs done to him by murdering his persecutor, Antonio, prevents us from viewing him in a positive light. Shakespeare is therefore, intending the audience to sympathize with Shylock. By Jon Garland 101B ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Merchant of Venice section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Merchant of Venice essays

  1. The play "The Merchant of Venice" is described as Romantic Comedy. One aspect of ...

    His love for Antonio brings him back to Venice where he offer's his own life: " The Jew shall have my flesh, blood bones and all/ Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood". The character development emphasises that love and friendship are superior to his Earlier self-centred greed.

  2. Free essay

    Belmont is a place of youth, happiness and concord, Venice a place of age, ...

    He represents the age, melancholy and strife in Venice. His hatred for Christians, causes the conflict in the court. "I bear Antonio, that I follow thus A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?" Also Shakespeare uses Shylock's knife and scales to add symbolic meaning as well as drama.

  1. How does Shakespeare portray character and relationships in Act 1 Scene 3 of 'The ...

    Shylock exposes Antonio as having double standards. Antonio criticises him for usury, but is happy to use the service when he needs it. Shakespeare makes Antonio seem hypocritical here. Antonio is forced to borrow money form Shylock because he promised Bassanio he would and their relationship means so much to

  2. How Does Shakespeare Influence Audience Opinion Of Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice'.

    This gives us an immediate first impression that his main concern in life is his money and wealth. He also repeats a lot of his words and phrases which shows he has a materialistic mind and a lack of imagination.

  1. This play appeared in print in 1600 with the title The Comical History of ...

    However, some people might argue, that this could just be a simple plea for help on the part of Bassanio - as whatever way we the audience interpret this, Bassanio ultimately is hinting to the fact that he needs Antonio's money to make Portia his wife, as the second 'shaft'

  2. How Just is the outcome of the Trial Scene in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of ...

    So in many ways, Shylock is the despised Jew full of greed and old-fashioned beliefs that a regular Shakespeare comedy is supposed to have. However, amongst all these lines showing an obsession with money, and amongst all his snarling cruel demands to seek revenge, Shylock is explored in much more

  1. Merchant of Venice- Scene by Scene summary & analysis

    Graziano then informs them that he would like to be married as well. He tells Bassanio and Portia that he and Nerissa (the chambermaid to Portia) are in love. Bassanio is thrilled for his friend and agrees to let them get married as well.

  2. As we watch and read The Merchant of Venice, our feelings and opinions change. ...

    Portia says, "sceptre(s) shows the force of temporal power...but mercy is above this sceptered sway", symbolizing that mercy is greater than ruling the world by kings which points out that "mercy" must be as great as God's work - quality of God himself.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work