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Sympathizing with Shylock in William Shakespeare's Othello Essay

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Sympathizing with Shylock in William Shakespeare's Othello

Shylock is a miserly money-lender, but is he? one opinion of Shylock
would agree with that statement the other disagrees. Is he really a
"goodly apple rotten at the core"? or is he a confusing caricature
with two people drawn into one solid fixture, a person? He could very
well be that, could he be confused or miss-understood? This is up to
the ever changing audience. His two sides cause disagreement of
opinion of the audience. First is that he is a victim of the society
around him, a clean-living family man who would like to go about his
business unimpeded, and after he is a man driven to revenge by his
daughters elopement with a Christian. He suffers racial abuse, this he
is forced to endure daily. Shakespeare often uses animal imagery to
describe Shylock as "a dammed inexorable dog", "wolfish, bloody,
starved and ravenous". These images of Shylock reoccur during the
play. Another aspect is that he is a blood thirsty, maddened solider
who is armed with scales and a knife, he only cares for his money and
his possessions. He is an "impenetrable cur" a "villain with a smiling
cheek" who gets his justice in the end.

Jews have been resented through-out history. The beginning of their
appalling treatment is everyday anti-Semitic torture. This is
presented to Shylock by the Christians of Venice. The Jews in history
were known for their tight-knit communities and intelligence, they
were mistrusted and resented. Modern audiences will show more sympathy
towards Shylock because the greatest Jewish suffering during Hitler's
reign, this was inflicted by the Nazi's during World War Two....


... middle of paper ...


...he Christian go." Portia Refuses Shylock even his principle and
leaves his fate to the mercy of the duke and Antonio, the duke pardons
Shylock his life but confiscates one equal half of his goods, Shylock
is ungrateful to that and says that he pardon not that. Antonio is
less merciful and sets down some rules that of which, that "to quit
the fine for one half of his goods; I am content so he will let me
have the other half in use, to render it upon his death to the
gentleman [Lorenzo] that lately stole his daughter. Two things
provided more, that for this favor he presently become a Christian:
the other, that he do record a gift here in the court of all he dies
possessed unto his son Lorenzo and his daughter. Shylock cannot say
more than he is content. He leaves the count a broken man not to
reappear in the play again.


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