From the study of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is shylock presented as a villain or victim? To what extent will this view have changed from that of the original audience?

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From the study of 'The Merchant of Venice' is shylock presented as a villain or victim? To what extent will this view have changed from that of the original audience?

The play is set in the late 15th century and is mainly about the character of shylock a money lending Jew; he is trying to live a simplistic life as a simplistic character in Venice a country that would have despised and alienated Jewish people. Christians very much believed in their religion/faith and would have disliked any Jewish person. Therefore the original audience would have hated shylock because of his religious beliefs and his job of money lending, as Christians wouldn't have been able to this job, as it would disagree with their belief.

Shakespeare captured the way Jews were portrayed in this play well and managed to display it in a certain way, which wouldn't offend, but captured both sympathy and understanding from the audience at the time. Shakespeare play would be looked at in a very different way in a modern performance as the audience wouldn't discriminate towards Jews/ shylock as Christians are taught differently to when the play was originally written and children would have learnt about different religions and cultures and could cope with a Jewish character.

Shylock's first appearance in the play is in act 1 scene 3 and his first line is;

" Three thousand ducats", this could be taken by audiences in two ways, as a Jewish man making his living and deciding on a lending. Or a greedy man who is discussing his money. This although seems a bit far fetched and malicious of the character the Christians in Shakespeare's time could have taken the line in this way. During this opening speech of the scene shylock uses a form of repetition, which isn't direct repetition of his own words, however it is repetition of Bassanio's words and shylock is repeating this for his own remembrance or to 'get it into his head' so that he can make a decision on whether to lend Bassanio this money;

"Three months-well"
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"Antonio bound-well"

"Three thousand ducats, for three months and Antonio bound."

Also in this scene shylocks asks rhetorical questions;

"Hath a dog's money?" this is directed towards Bassanio and is not meant for an answer as it is to put him on the spot and make him feel guilty, he is referring to previous moments when he has been discriminated against by Bassanio and his Christian friends. He uses other rhetorical questions in the scene, which refers to the same meanings;

"What should I say to you?"

"You call me a dog and ...

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***** A detailed description of the experiment with good use of specific and precise biological terminology throughout.