"Shylock is a two dimensional villain who does not deserve our sympathy" To what degree do you agree with the statement?

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"Shylock is a two dimensional villain who does not deserve our sympathy" To what degree do you agree with the statement?

The above statement makes two main assumptions about Shylock. One is that Shylock is a two-dimensional villain, a man who is a stereotypical, one-sided man with no true motive for his actions. This assumption also implies that Shylock is extremely superficial, an supposition that we strongly disagree. The second assumption is that Shylock does not deserve our sympathy as although he is not superficial, what he has done has outweighed all senses of morality. In this, we agree to a certain extent only.

Pertaining to the first assumption, Shylock is not a one-sided, superficial villain but has actually two sides: one of a comic villain that invokes our dislike, and the other as the helpless victim of the Christians. Most of the time, Shakespeare portrays Shylock as cruel and mean, the most striking example being Shylock's reaction after his discovery of Jessica's eloping with an enemy and the theft of his belongings. His seemingly pure hatred of his daughter can be seen from `"I would my daughter were dead at my foot and the jewels in her ear!" Act 3, Scene 1. This portrayal of a Jew for Christians and readers to rightfully ridicule and hate is further emphasized when Shylock laments about his money along with his daughter, as can be seen from `My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats! Justice! The law! My ducats and my daughter! (II.8.15-17)'. This implies that Shylock views his daughter and his money at equal value, perhaps even preferring his money over his daughter as implied by the first quote. This fuels readers to further hate Shylock for his lack of love for Jessica.

Another striking example that portrays Shylock as a typical villain who is cruel is in Act 4, Scene 1, where time and again, Shylock turns down all offers of money for his revenge on Antonio. This can be seen from "My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, The penalty and the forfeit of my bond." Act 4, Scene 1. Even after Portia pleads for mercy for Shylock to rip his bond and grant mercy to Antonio, Shylock refuses, making himself seem cruel and unmerciful. Shylock's bloodthirstiness is further emphasized later in the scene when Bassanio asks "Why dost thou whet thy knife so earnestly?" Act 4, Scene 1, to which Shylock replies, "To cut the forfeiture from the bankrupt there." Act 4, Scene 1. Through these words, Shakespeare makes Shylock seem eager to kill and unmerciful even with so many Christians pleading with him and money as a reward to boot. His thirst for revenge gives readers a further reason to hate him, and a justification for the Christians to mock and insult him.

However, at the same time, Shylock also knew love before, and loved others. This can be seen from "It was my turquoise. I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys." Act 3, Scene 1. Here, we can see that Shylock loved Leah, his possible wife, dearly, and would not have given up the semi-precious, and therefore, not very expensive ring, for even the most expensive thing on earth. The quote also downgrades Jessica in our eyes, who without a second thought had betrayed her father's last connection to his past life and her own mother in exchange for a monkey. The lost ring allows us to see Shylock in an uncharacteristically vulnerable position and to view him as a human being capable of feeling something more than anger. Although Shylock and Tubal discuss the ring for no more than five lines, the ring stands as an important symbol of Shylock's humanity, his ability to love, and his ability to grieve, and shows us a side with deep emotion, a characteristic that a two-dimensional character does not have.

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Another example that Shylock's actions can be justified, and shows us that he is in fact no better or worse than the Christians in what he does, is his famous speech in Act 3, Scene 1, where he says, "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winder and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If ...

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