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Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice Essay

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Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

This essay is an analysis of how the character of Shylock, in the play
'The Merchant of Venice', is presented to the audience, by
Shakespeare, in different ways.

The riveting play shows the best and worst aspects of human nature and
contains one of Shakespeare's most reviled, complex and compelling
characters. Love and romance end this play, yet before that come
bigotry, racism, hatred, death threats and money-especially the money.
The dramatic courtroom scene and Shylock's cruel downfall will
challenge your heart and your sense of justice.

Shylock is a successful Jewish moneylender, who is filled with bitter
words for the Christians, much prejudiced over his own religion and
the practice of moneylenders, such as himself, of charging interest.

Shylocks of the past and present have been portrayed in different ways
on screen and in the theatre. He has been played by Anthony Sher, John
Woodvine, Ralph Richardson, Dustin Hoffman, John Gielgud and Barrie
Rutter. Each of the actors has tried to show him in either his best or
his worst possible light.

In some interpretations of 'The Merchant of Venice', the technique
that the directors use is to cut a lot of Shylock's original lines to
make him seem less harsh and more undeserving of all the hatred that
the people around him give him constantly. In most cases, the
intensity of the performances, of the actors playing Shylock, go
towards getting his character across to the audience.

In the play, religion seems to be inextricably connected with business

Shakespeare puts Shylock in a bad situation as soon as his char...


... middle of paper ...


...ery valid observation in that speech. He
was trying to point out that humans are all the same, no matter what
they believe in, we are all born, living and are eventually going to
die in very much the same ways, so why can't he have his revenge?

The desire of revenge is almost inseparable from the sense of wrong
and we can hardly help sympathising with the Shylock, hidden beneath
his "Jewish gabardine," his madness by repeated, undeserved name
calling and labouring to get rid of the obstructions, from
opportunities and freedom, heaped upon him and all his tribe by one
desperate act of 'lawful' revenge. The ferociousness of the means by
which he is to carry out his purpose, turn us against him. Even so,
when disappointed of the revenge on which he built his hopes and the
way he is punished for his actions, we pity him.


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