Shylock- Villain or Victim?

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Shylock- Villain or Victim?

During the play, Shakespeare illustrates Shylock’s situation in such a way that the audience understands his villainous action towards Antonio is a result of victimisation. He is a victim of anti Semitism, including verbal abuse and even his own daughter insults him by robbing him and running away with a Christian and in the end he is a victim of not showing mercy and so suffers from that mistake.

 To find what makes up a classic Shakespearean villain one could look to Iago in “Othello”. In this play he is seen as the embodiment of evil, that is to say he has no real motivation for his wicked actions and no one could give him any sympathy. On the other hand, Shylock does have a motive for his villainy therefore he is not a villain. Instead Shylock has been directed towards his position because he has been victimised.

Shylock has been a victim of racial abuse, “You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gabardine”, “(Solanio referring to Shylock) Let me say ‘amen’ betimes for here he comes in likeness of a Jew”, Solanio is anti Semitic, claiming Shylock is the devil. Because he is a Jew his situation in Venice is second-class. This is first seen in Bassanio’s hostility towards him. At the beginning of the scene Bassanio’s speech is short and prosaic indicating the lack of friendship between them, “Your answer to that”, this statement shows his agitation with Shylock and, “Be assured you may”, shows that Bassanio has taken shylock’s previous comment as negative which Shylock didn’t intend. Bassanio insults him with snide remarks, “If it please you to dine with us”; this is an insult because Shylock, for religious reasons can’t eat with them anyway, so the very suggestion is disrespectful. Because Antonio does not deny his actions, “I am as like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too”, this  makes Shylock seem even more a victim of their racial discrimination. Antonio also  impolitely refers to shylock as ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ rather then ‘you’, again proving his  racism towards  him.  Lorenzo did not stop Jessica stealing from Shylock therefore he must think that stealing from him is nothing. This is  yet  another  example of the  racial  treatment  shown  towards Shylock.

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Shylock is mocked and hated for his money lending “(to Antonio) many a time in the Rialto you have berated me about my moneys and usances. Still have I borne it with a patient shrug, for sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.” Salerio and Solanio constantly mock him at every opportunity.They seek to torment him when he is most vulnerable; for example when Jessica has eloped they taunt him about his losses and mock him, “You knew, none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter's flight.”, Solerio inappropriately replies “That's certain. I, for my part, ...

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To achieve a higher grade the candidate needed to have mentioned the use of language within the play, It is necessary to discuss various linguistic techniques, such as the use of metaphors, smilies and alliteration etc. However on a more positive note, the candidate does uses an extensive range of vocabulary and there a few if any problems with spelling or grammar.

The level of analysis shown by this candidate is of a high standard, they give their own ideas and opinions on Shylock as a character and pick out key quotations from the play to back up these ideas, rather than simply retelling the story. They have shown a good understanding of how this type of essay should be written. In addition they have undergone independent research as they mentioned the way in which Jewish people where generally treated at the time this play was written. This shows the candidates interest in their work and makes the essay more enjoyable to read. Though the candidate gives a conclusion they have mostly continued their analysis. A strong conclusion should answer the initial question, summarise your key points and ideas and include your personal opinions. This is important as it brings the essay to a close and gives you a chance to leave the reader with a good impression.

Though the candidates starts this essay well, their introduction is missing; an outline of what the candidate plans to discuss, a statement of any questions that the candidate intends to answer (in this case, is Shylock a villain or victim?) and a vernal introduction to Shylock as a charter. If you're struggling with your introduction is a good idea to go back and re-write one you've finished your essay. This is your chance to catch the readers attention, you should try and make it short and to the point but interesting (which can be done by mentioning additional facts from independent research). In general the candidates response to the question is thorough and they have discussed their ideas in a clear and organised manor.