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

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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice


Written sometime between 1596 and 1598,by Shakespeare The Merchant of
Venice is classified as both an early Shakespearean comedy and as one
of the Bard's problem plays; it is a work in which good triumphs over
evil, but serious themes are looked at and some issues remain
unresolved.
The play is about Antonio, a Venetian merchant, who complains to his
friends that he feels a sadness which he cannot explain. His friend
Bassanio is desperately in need of money to court Portia, a wealthy
young woman who lives in the city of Belmont. Bassanio asks Antonio
for a loan in order to travel in style to Portia’s estate. Antonio
agrees, but is unable to make the loan himself because his own money
is all invested in ships that are still at sea. Antonio suggests that
Bassanio secure the loan from one of the city’s moneylenders in
Antonio’s name.

In Belmont, Portia expresses sadness over the terms of her father’s
will, which stipulates that she must marry the man who correctly
chooses one of three caskets.

In Venice, Antonio and Bassanio approach Shylock, a Jewish
moneylender, for a loan. Shylock has a long-standing grudge against
Antonio, who has made a habit of criticizing Shylock and other Jews
for loaning money at large rates of interest, and undermines their
business by offering interest-free loans. Although Antonio refuses to
apologise for his behaviour, Shylock acts agreeably and offers to lend
Bassanio three thousand ducats with no interest. Shylock adds,
however, that should the loan go unpaid, Shylock will be entitled to a
pound of Antonio’s own flesh. Despite Bassanio’...


... middle of paper ...


...of this and the characters being unaware
raises the audience tension., this lets them know something dramatic
is about to happen.

In all the play ends positively for the Christians, something which
would have been expected by the audience and they would have been
thoroughly satisfied with the conclusion and the final judgement on
Shylock. We can only guess how Shakespeare intended Shylock to be
portrayed, I feel that Shakespeare intended Shylock to be a victim, I
think he was created to challenge the ideologies of racism at that
time, Although saying this, I feel that it is not prolific for us to
simply categorise Shylock as either victim or villain. Modern audience
are probably more likely to be sympathetic as we share different
beliefs because of events we have witnessed through time mainly after
World War Two.


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