Is Shylock treated fairly?

Authors Avatar

Is Shylock treated fairly?

The Merchant of Venice is set in Venice, though mostly in Belmont. Venice is a very old and well-known Italian city. There are several different types of religions in Italy, but the most common were the Jews and the Christians. The Jews and Christians resented each other; an example of this is in the merchant of Venice play with Shylock and Antonio.

        Jews, when moving into the city, had to convert to a Christian or be rejected among the others. They could be easily spotted in crowds and mocked because of their tendency to wear large, black robes called ‘Gabardines’.

In Venice the Jews were the minority of people living there. The Jews would come to Venice to live, for only one thing, lending the Merchants money to buy ships.

        The main type of job for the Christians are Trading jobs, being a Merchant. They would import and export goods from all Four Corners of the earth to make a living, trading by land to the east and by sea to the west. Though this was the main type of job, many Christians and Jews would be ‘Money Lenders’ i.e. lend money to others and charge interest. However, again this caused another major problem in this country. In the Christian’s sacred text (the Bible) it stated that no Christian had the right to lend money and charge interest. Normally, people wouldn’t lend money to people without gaining something in return...profit, though Antonio (The Merchant) did so.

        He would lend money and not charge interest, it was like having a second job, but you didn’t get paid.

        As some Christian’s did this, the Jews hated them even more because who would go to a person who charges interest on money borrowing, when they could attain it for free? Also, because one of the only reasons the Jews lived in Venice was lending money, this made them hate some of the Christians even more e.g. Antonio.

In the play you can quite clearly see how Shylock is treated, whether you think this is fair or not, is entirely up to you.

Just about all the way through the play, Shylock is a resentful, cunning, merciless and an implacable person. He hates all Christians and despises Antonio especially. The first time we see how he can be evil and conniving is when Bassanio needs money to swindle his way into marrying a beautiful woman in Belmont called Portia. However because Antonio’s ships are at sea and he will have no money until they reach port, Antonio cannot lend the money, or can he?

As Antonio’s credit is exceptionally good in Venice, he can go to a money lender and obtain some money

        Antonio tries borrowing money from Shylock, a money lender who lives in Venice, though Antonio will have a hard time persuading Shylock to lend the money.

At this point, when Antonio is asking for the money from Shylock, we can be sure that Shylock should be treated with disgust and hatred because of the wickedness he shows Antonio. Shylock declines the request for Bassanio to borrow 3000 ducats, purely on one reason, I hate him for he is a Christian’. - Shylock

      Though, bear in mind at this point, the play is not all about religion and anti-Semitism, it is also about how one and other are treat. Shylock does not only hate Antonio for that reason but for many others. Also in Act 1 Scene 3 you can see how Shylock mocks Bassanio at the beginning by being sarcastic and not answering his question on borrowing the money.

Join now!

        ‘Three thousand ducats - well...For three months - well’

You can see how Shylock would annoy Bassanio by saying ‘well’ a lot and not answering a simple yes/no question.

        However - though Shylock shows his disgust at the beginning of the scene you may feel sorry, and sympathise nearer to the middle. Shylock ‘reminds’ Antonio of how he treats him and the type of things he says.

        Antonio would call Shylock a misbeliever, cutthroat, dog and spit on his gabardine!

        Shylock, at this point has an idea, an evil idea that eventually makes out the whole play. He decides that ...

This is a preview of the whole essay