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 flesh”. From that we can see Shylock’s hatred towards Christians and a part of his deliberate plot to bring the merchant down. In the scene we also see Shylock as a victim for Antonio continues to mock and insult him: “The devil can cite scripture for his purpose”, “The Hebrew will turn Christian, he grows kind”. From this scene we can tell that Antonio is prejudiced and he is willing to gamble with his life for Bassanio ignoring the fact that he knows he has got a bigger chance to win.
Shylock tells the audience aside that “I hate him for he is a Christian” this shows that he judges Antonio by his religion before having properly met him and because Antonio lends out money gratis. He also shows that’s he is greedy and cold-blooded when he is speaking to Tubal in Act 3 Scene 1: “Two thousand ducats in that and other precious, precious jewels” and “I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ears”. Shakespeare also shows that Shylock is a greedy person because he gives little clothes and food to Launcelot and he doesn’t spend much money, even though he is very rich.
Shylock is also not a great father he did not notice Jessica’s strange behavior on the night when she runs away with Lorenzo; it shows that he is not a attentive father but may be earning more money. Shylock is also a villain because he declared an equal pound of flesh in the first place and in Act 3 Scene 3 his repetition of “I’ll have my bond” shows him to be openly aggressive; he warns those who have treated him as “a dog” to “beware my fangs”. This is stressed greatly by the contrast between his and Antonio’s behavior. Antonio has realized Shylock will not listen to him and is prepared to accept fate: “Let him alone; I’ll follow him no more with bootless prayer.”
After discussing the points about Shylock being a villain, I shall now discuss about Shylock being portrayed as a victim. Shylock is a victim in the play because his wife died and Jessica is the only part of Leah left in his life but Jessica rebelled and ran away because in her eyes Shylock is the villain. Shylock is also a lonely man not only because of Jessica and Leah; it’s because of the ducats. Shylock did not blame Jessica for stealing the ducats but instead he blames the Christians. And in Act 2 Scene 8 Solanio is mocking Shylock in a sardonic tone, pretending to be Shylock: “My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!” Solanio and Salerio seem to enjoy taunting him when Shylock is vulnerable, and his thirst for revenge grows bigger. It is natural human imperfection to avenge when you have been wronged. In Act 3 Scene 1, Shylock’s speech is written to call up our sympathy to mind “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
In the trial scene, Shylock is portrayed as both villain and victim; he is mocked by the Christians, especially Gratiano. Even the Duke is against him when he is a fair judge. Portia is also acting as Balthazar; Shylock refuses to show mercy when asked by Portia and the Duke. “On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.” But Portia is cunning; she makes Shylock draw his knife and humiliated him with the law. At the end Shylock has to convert to Christianity and lose half of his fortune. Shylock’s punishment was too harsh with Antonio forcing him to convert to Christianity. Shylock did not have to die but it would probably be better for him if he did because he has nothing left in the world.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
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, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
Level of analysis
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.
Response to question
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.