He goes to the courtroom fully prepared to exit with a pound of his enemies flesh. However, the fact that shylock keeps making a point of showing importance against sticking to the exact words of the bond go against him. 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. When Shylock decides he would rather take the money that Bassanio has agreed to pay, Portia refuses him it, as he must take the bond and also reminds him that if he takes too little flesh or too much then he will be breaking the law. Shylock is trapped, there is no humane way that he can take the forfeit and so he pleads with the judge to forgive him and spare him of his life. The judge rules that Shylock must give half his goods the state of Venice and the other half to Antonio. Antonio says that on Shylocks death, half the money will go to his daughter and her Christian husband, he also demands that Shylock become a Christian.
The way people view the character of Shylock has changed through the centuries, in the seventeenth century he was seen as a savage villain who is contrasted with the other characters’ comical and romantic styles. However in the nineteenth century, people focused on the sufferings of Shylock and why he behaves like he does. The reason for the change in opinion could be explained by the way anti-Semitism is seen. When the play was written, it was common to hear anti-Semitic views by the Christians, they often made jokes at those less fortunate and some could say that Shylocks purpose was for some to laugh at a Jewish person’s expense. For example in act 3 scene 1 Salarino and Solanio talk about Shylock’s misfortunes rather sarcastically.
One opinion about the way that Shakespeare presents Shylock in the play is that he is shows him to be a Jewish man who is misunderstood, mistreated and unfairly accused. Shylock can be played as an attractive, sympathetic figure. The ending of the play helps this view very strongly as everything is taken from including his possessions and even his religion. It seems at the end that Shylock has nothing left to live for, even his daughter has played traitor to him and run off with the Christians. “I hate him for he is a Christian” “He lends out money gratis and brings down the rate of here with us in Venice” Shylock despises Antonio because of his religion and because his money lending affects Shylocks living standards and how much money he earns. It makes us feel compassion towards Shylock as opposed to Antonio in the first half of the play as by Antonio lending money for nothing it is preventing Shylock from earning more. His speech ‘If you prick us’ (Act 3, Scene 1) makes us view him with more sympathy than before. He is asking for understanding and Shakespeare may have done this so that the audience could understand his anger at the way he is treated by the Christians and explains why he feels revenge is rightfully his. Yet if any sympathy was gained in this speech it was changed after he uses it to justify his constant refusal for mercy and plain revenge.
Towards the end of the trial scene, Shylock is shown in a dark light as well as where we begin to feel sympathetic again. The fact that he has come fully prepared with his own knife and scales shows us the determination that he gets what he came for and it shows that he could be very disturbed to have planned it already. He constantly rejects the pleas for mercy, which could say that Shakespeare wanted to gain trust of the Elizabethans who had anti-Semitism views, if they thought Shakespeare was trying to show pity to the Jew and make him look friendly then no one would see his show as people would think he was trying to make the Elizabethans like Jewish people. So to appeal to everyone you could say he was trying to take no sides showing each character with good and bad qualities, Shakespeare was not anti-Semitic.
You could say that Shylock was presented as a villain but for comical purposes. I have already mentioned how the Elizabethans saw Jews to be evil and that when they see him suffering this may have shown some crude and grotesque humour. The way Shylock is mocked in the finial scene is seen to be fairly humorous for Elizabethan standards.
In the film version we watched early on in the year Al Pacino played Shylock. The way he played the part, in my opinion, made the audience sympathise with him more as his facial expressions showed that he felt just for all the wrong things he did. In the film, it showed the courtroom scene to be played in a sympathetic way. Al Pacino shows great empathy with his character when Shylock has to decide whether to take the flesh even though he will be punished.
Shylocks eventual outcome is rather malicious and the way they treat him considering they should be happy that their friend is not going to be killed is rather heartless. They probably think that their actions are justified as Shylock did intend to kill Antonio, yet if they knew how much it hurts to suffer they would have let him go with no further punishment. Also if they cared about their religion so much they would understand how it would feel if they were made to change their religion.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
The candidate fails to mention Shakespeare's use of language, and how he deliberately writes in a way that catches the audience attention. It is necessary to discuss the use of linguistic techniques, such as metaphors and similes, in order to achieve a higher grade at this level. On a positive note the essay is fluent and easy to read and there is no real issue with spelling, grammar or punctuation. Overall I would say that this is a pretty average example of the standard of work I would expect for this level of qualification.
Level of analysis
For the most part the candidate simply retells parts of the play, without giving any analysis or mentioning any further points. This is something you need to avoid as much as possible. It is often important to discuss certain scenes in a play, but you need to find a way to do this without simply retelling the story. You should discuss the characters thoughts and feelings, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a guess at how you think they might feel. In addition the candidate uses very few quotations from the play, it is important to pick key quotations that back up your ideas and opinions. However the candidate does discuss the differences in the way Shylock is portrayed in the film version; this insight adds an interesting note to the essay. I would also like to add that the candidate could have gained a higher grade by undergoing independent research, this shows your interest in the play and also makes the essay more enjoyable for the reader. Finally there is no real conclusion to this essay, though the ending paragraph does mention an important point about the characters views of religion. A conclusion should answer the initial question, summarise your key points and ideas and include your personal opinions (in this case your opinions of the character Shylock). This is important as it brings the essay to a close and gives you a chance to leave the reader with a good impression.
Response to question
The candidate uses the introduction to discuss the scene in which Antonio talks to Shylock about loaning some money. The introductory paragraph of an essay should be used to introduce what you plan to discuss, in this case it should introduce Shylock as character i.e his appearance and personality. It is not necessary to talk about specific scenes of the play in your very first paragraph. The candidateâ€™s response to the question is at times a little vague, they sometimes discuss parts of the play without saying how this gives an insight to Shylockâ€™s personality. In addition the candidate does not clearly discuss whether or not the audience sympathises with Shylock. It is essential to make sure that whatever you're discussing, you always come back to the main question.