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Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Many people are villainous in the way they behave. Their villainous
acts may be attributed to their desire to destroy others and in turn
elevate themselves to a higher financial or social level. However, the
root cause of their villainy may be a response to the treatment they
have received from others. In that case, they would have been taught
villainy rather than being a villain at heart in which case, revenge
would be a key motivator in inspiring them to act in a villainous way.
This is why sometimes it can be very debatable whether one is villain
or victim.

In the 'Merchant of Venice' it is arguable that shylock's character
undergoes a metamorphosis from villain to victim. In this essay, I
intend to discuss whether Shylock can be defined as either a villain
or a victim.

We are first introduced to Shylock in Act 1 Scene 3. In this scene, we
find out that Shylock bears a grudge against Antonio 'How like a
fawning publican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian.' By
saying this, Shylock is talking about Christian's altogether as well
as Antonio. However, it is still not yet explained what Antonio has
done as well as Christians in general.

Shylock also displays elements of anger in his refusal to ever forgive
the Christians. We learn of his intent regarding Antonio's life: 'If I
can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I
bear him.' Shylock shows himself to be cunning and crafty by
disguising his hatred for Antonio. He does this by talking to them as
if he's a close friend in order to entice Antonio to become indebted
to him, not just wi...


... middle of paper ...


...he time period he is living in as well as the area
where the laws are made to favor Christian's. An example of this is
when Shylock lost the case and received an overly harsh punishment
from Antonio which was a religious conversion. This is harsh because
not only has Shylock previously lost his wife, he has now lost his
dead wife's ring which was of great sentimental value to him, he lost
his daughter and his wealth was distributed amongst his enemies. He
now has no possessions due to the fact he has been victimized by the
laws and the people around him. Having said all this, I'd say Shylock
is a victim more than he is a villain despite the thin borderline
although I think this was what Shakespeare intended, for the
distinction between villain and victim to become blurred which is what
he does well in act 4, the trial.


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