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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.

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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.

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