Is Shylock a villain or victim?

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Is Shylock a villain or victim?

In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock does not have the biggest role in the play but he is the character that everyone remembers. Our attitudes to Shylock change throughout the play, and he is one of Shakespeare most complicated characters. During the play Shylock is seen as both a villain and a victim, but which is the true shylock? In the middle of Act 1 we are introduced to Shylock straight away. We have clues as to his personality and his motives within his first speech: “Three thousand ducats, well”. His tone sounds interested, evil. In the play Shylock is a moneylender. Another example of Shylock showing his personality is when he comments in Antonio as a “good man”. It does not mean that Antonio is a good person or good to be a friend but it means Antonio is worthy of credit for a loan. He used the word good because he wants them to borrow the money so Shylock may have a chance to take revenge.

As the play unfolds, Shylock is presented as the villain because he is portrayed as cold, greedy and evil. But is he? Is Shylock really the villain in the play or can he also be portrayed as the victim? In Shakespeare’s times, the Sixteenth Century, Jews were rarely seen in England. In the middle Ages, Jews had fled to England to escape and their only job was to lend money because Christians were not allowed to lend out money to get interest. They could only lend out money for no interest (gratis). Antonio always lends out money gratis so Shylocks hates him. Also, Antonio is prejudices against the Jews and often throws verbal and physical abuse at Shylock. Shylock’s hatred for the Christian will never change. Shylock also has no sorrow for the bad things he does from time to time, making it very difficult for us to feel total sympathy for him.

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The main plot started with Bassanio (Antonio’s friend), who needs a loan of three thousand ducats so that he can try his luck with a wealthy heiress names Portia. Not being able to get three thousand ducats himself, Bassanio asks Antonio for the money. Unfortunately, Antonio’s money is being invested in merchant ships that are currently still at sea. With no money at hand, he agrees to ask for a short term loan from Shylock. Shylock agrees to lend Antonio and Bassanio the money but on a basis of a pound of Antonio’s flesh “an equal pound of your fair ...

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The candidate fails to mention the use of language within the play, It is necessary to discuss various linguistic techniques, such as metaphors and smilies, in order to achieve a higher grade at this level. There are also a few issues with spelling and grammar throughout the essay, I’m sure the candidate could have picked up on these if they had taken the time to carefully proof read their work. However The candidates use of rhetorical questions is a good way to engage the reader, which makes the essay more enjoyable to read. Plus they have used a good range of vocabulary throughout the essay.

In general the level of analysis the candidate provides is poor, though they do discuss different scenes in which Shylock is portrayed as either a villain or a victim, they mostly retell parts of the play. You need to mention how the character's are felling and what they might be thinking, even if its just a guess, your opinions matter. In addition the candidate has undergone some independent research as they mention the way in which Jewish people were perceived in the time this play was written. This makes the essay more enjoyable to read and shows the candidates interest in the play. However the information they give is a little brief it would have been interesting to read more about this. Unfortunately the candidate fails to provide a conclusion to this essay. A strong conclusion should answer the initial question, summarise your key points and ideas and include your personal opinions (in this case do you think Shylock is a villain or a victim, why do you think this?). This is important as it brings the essay to a close and gives you a chance to leave the reader with a good impression.

The candidates introduction is actually quite good, it introduces the play and the character Shylock and is interesting to read. However I feel it would have been more appropriate to split this into two paragraphs. The candidate continues the introduction by discussing scenes from the play and includes quotations, these are best left for the bulk of the essay. An introduction should outline the topics that you plan discuss, state any questions that you intend to answer and summarise any relevant points.