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

With close reference to the text, explore how Shakespeare presents the character Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice' and examine how the character could evoke sympathy of a modern audience.

Extracts from this document...


Victoria Newsum GCSE English Literature Coursework The Merchant Of Venice With close reference to the text, explore how Shakespeare presents the character Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice' and examine how the character could evoke sympathy of a modern audience. I will be exploring how Shakespeare presents the character of Shylock in 'The Merchant Of Venice' by using close reference of the text. I will also examine how the character of Shylock could evoke sympathy of a modern audience. Throughout 'The Merchant Of Venice' there is a clear separation between Christians and Jews. This separation has been outlined throughout history. Christians and Jews have antagonised each other because of their beliefs. All arguments stem from the fact that Christians and Jews believe different things about Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was the son of the god and that he sacrificed himself in order to save humanity from sin. Whereas Jews believe that Jesus wasn't the messiah and that when the messiah comes it will take them to the promised land of Zion. The clear anger between Christians and Jews in 'The Merchant Of Venice' can be traced back to the event of the Holocaust. The Holocaust took place between 1941 and 1945. It was the extermination of more than 15 people including Jews. The event of the holocaust was what caused the anger between Christians and Jews. The occurrence of the Holocaust could evoke sympathy with a modern audience, as they are more likely to sympathise with Shylock who is representing the Jewish tribe. A modern audience is likely to sympathise with a Jewish character, as they know what the Jews went through during the Holocaust so they will feel sympathy for the character. During 'The Merchant Of Venice' sympathy is lost and gained by Shylock who represents the Jews. I am going to explore where and how this sympathy is lost and gained throughout Act1 Scene3, Act3 Scene1, and Act4 Scene1. ...read more.


This would cause loss of sympathy from the audience, as Shylock is being cold-hearted and selfish. Towards the end of the scene Shylock loses sympathy with the audience when he says: "Thou stickest a dagger in me: I shall never see my gold again" This again makes him look like a typical Jewish stereotype. He is being selfish and only thinking about his money not the fact he will never see his daughter again. Thus losing sympathy with the audience. At the end of the scene Shylock is talking about Antonio to Tubal. This is the last point on this scene where he loses sympathy. He says: "I will have the heart of him" This relates to the fact that Shylock wants him dead. It may also give reference as to where the pound of flesh (the forfeit) will be taken from. I will now study the areas in which Shylock gains sympathy from the audience in this scene. Before Shylock enters the scene he gains sympathy from the audience when Salanio talks about him. Salanio says to Salarino: "Lest the devil cross my prayer, for here he comes in the likeness of a Jew" This quote gains Shylock sympathy as he is being called a "devil" and is referred to as a "Jew". This is an example of religious prejudice, as they are not calling him by his proper name. Just after Shylock enters the scene he is asked what the latest news is. Shylock's daughter has run away with a Christian but Shylock knows the news is all around the town. He replies with: "You know, none so well, of my daughters flight" This quote creates sympathy for Shylock as his daughter has ran away with another man and everyone knows. They are making fun of him, this creates sympathy from the audience as he is being teased. Part way through the scene Shylock makes a very important speech that increases his gain of sympathy by a very large amount. ...read more.


One of the things she says is: "In the cutting it, if thou dost shed One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods Are, bye the laws of Venice, confiscate unto the state of Venice" This comment causes the audience to sympathise with Shylock because if he does not follow the rules then he will lose his land and all his belongings. The last quote from the play where Shylock gains sympathy is when he is asked to sign the deed, he says: "I pray you, give me leave to go from hence; I ma not well: send the deed after me, And I will sign it" This quote creates sympathy as it is alluding to the fact that he is too ill to sign the contract and physically not able to stay in court. This creates sympathy, as the audience will feel sorry for him, as he is not well. After studying the quotes I have taken from this scene, I think there is more evidence of not sympathising with Shylock. We learn about how he is too ill to stay in court and how he nearly lost all his belongings yet he was still going to go through with killing Antonio and I think that is cold-hearted and cruel. Therefore I do not sympathise with Shylock in this scene. After studying the text thoroughly and taking into account the quotes I have chosen to support both sides of the argument I have come to the conclusion that I do not sympathise with Shylock in this play. He has shown that he can kill an innocent person all because he doesn't like their religion and I think he is cold-hearted and a killer. However, I do sympathise with him when he is being called names by the other characters, as I don't think it is fair to call someone just because of their religion. Although there are times when I sympathise with Shylock in this play, overall I do not sympathise with him because I don't like his actions he takes against other characters because of their religion. 1 ...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. Peer reviewed

    How does Shakespeare present the character of Shylock in the play? Is it possible ...

    3 star(s)

    When the Judge (Portia in disguise) reminds him that he didn't ask for blood and so if any blood spills when he takes the flesh then he will have all his possessions taken from him, as he will have broken the bond and law.

  2. Shylock is a tragic figure, trapped by prejudice and driven to revenge by the ...

    Antonio so far in this particular encounter between the two, although we must again refer to the possibility of Shylock's actions being justified due to the constant provocation over the years and we could assume that Shylock is simply retaliating.

  1. Merchant of Venice - Comparing and Contrasting Antonio and Shylock

    Bossanio pleads with Shylock, but Shylock teases. Shylock enjoys having the power, this shows that Shylock is being very business like, but Antonio will sign the bound. This may also show that Shylock is plotting revenge and expecting them to fail.

  2. "Is 'The Merchant of Venice 'a tragedy for Shylock and a comedy for all ...

    This influences him to say' 'I pardon thee thy life before thou ask it ' For half thy wealth, it is Antonio's; The other half comes to the general state, Which humbleness may drive unto a fine. (IV I lines362-5).

  1. merchant of venice- shylock character analysis

    Shakespeare created shylock against a cultural and historical backdrop that was intensely hostile to jews. Given this social context and historical tradition, it is not unanticipated that some antagonism should appear in Shakespeare's work. He was a commercial writer and needed to contemplate public conventions.

  2. In 'The Merchant of Venice' in Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock is described as ...

    This would leave a modern audience sympathising with Shylock and therefore leaving the final image of Shylock as a victim. There is also evidence throughout the entire play, which suggests Shylock as being both a villain and victim. Shylock gains sympathy as he reveals his humanity.

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

    Shylock learns of the disappearance of his daughter, Jessica and he does not seem to be very concerned. "She is damned for it" This suggests that Shylock does not care about what has happened to her and he blames her, saying she is damned.

  2. How does Shakespeare present the character of Shylock in the play?

    He also says "O my ducats! O my daughter!" The way in which me mentions the loss of his money before his daughter implies that he considers his wealth to be more important to him than his family. This portrays him as a callous miser.

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