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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay examples

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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Before we consider having any sympathy for Shylock at this point in
the play, we must look at events that have occurred and attitudes
towards him leading up to Act4 Scene1

We know that Shylock is unpopular with many citizens. This is shown
when he himself says that people have:

''Laughed at my loses, mocked at my gains, scorned at my nation''.
However, the Venetian citizens are not the only guilty party for
Shylock says that he hates Antonio

''For he is a Christian''

In addition to this, he has few friends or allies in Venice, even his
own daughter abandons him with Lorenzo - a Christian (Shylock is
Jewish) along with some of his possessions. He feels that his daughter
is the only person who understands him and that he can talk to, yet
she leaves him.

However, it is important to recognise the affect that all this
animosity has upon Shylock and, in particular, the way he might feel
when he approaches the court to 'exact' his 'bond' that he has with
Antonio. Shylock has three main feelings in the courtroom, they are
confidence because the bond is a legal document, resentment because of
his treatment, mocking of his religion, and verbal abuse and finally
devastation at the loss of his daughter. I think this makes him more
defiant in exacting his bond.

When he approaches the court they belittle him because of his
profession (money lender) and mainly his religion which is Jewish. He
contradicts the court when asking if Jews are

''Fed with the same food, hurt by the same weapons, subject to the
same diseases, healed by the same means and cooled and warmed by t...


... middle of paper ...


...igion - Jew, not by his name. For example when
Portia says

''Tarry Jew, The law hath yet another hold on you.'' This phrase means
wait Jew; the law has more power than you do.

In addition, Shylock cannot leave with any dignity because the court
has ordered him so that he must give

''One half his goods'' to ''The party 'gainst the which he doth
contrive'' and the other half ''comes to the privy coffer of the
state''.

He is now at his lowest point and is in a state of mind that his
predicament is worse than death.

Antonio has commanded him to change his religion from Jewish to
Christian, which robs him of any distinction. For him this is the
worst punishment of all. Shylock is now a totally beaten and resigned
man, a far cry from his confident and vengeful image and with his exit
from the courtroom.


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