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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essays

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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

The play begins in Venice where the wealthy merchant Antonio is
talking to his young friends about the reasons for the depression.
Antonio claims not to understand himself his sad nature.

Bassanio arrives with the news that he wishes to court a wealthy,
beautiful heiress named Portia. In order to present himself to Portia
he wants to borrow 3000 ducats. Bassanio is in terrible debt and he
sees marriage to Portia as a way out of financial problem. Antonio
claims he cannot raise 3000 ducats himself but he offers to stand as
security for any loan which Bassanio can arrange.

The subplot introduces Portia and Nerissa. Shakespeare provides
himself with an opportunity to comment on the position of women in the
society of his day. Portia was unable to choose her own husband. Her
father’s will made her the subject of a lottery. As in Romeo and
Juliet we see the ambivalence of the writer’s attitude to the
domination of women by authoritarian fathers. “I be obtained by the
manor of my father’s will”. Further more Shakespeare mocks the
European stereotypes that pursue Portia eager to claim not only her
beauty but also her father’s money. The audience learn that Portia
would choose Bassanio if indeed she had a choice.

Meanwhile in Venice, Bassanio has approached Shylock, a Jewish money
lender, for a loan of 3000 ducats. Shylock appears to prevaricate
about whether or not he should make the loan of 3000 ducats. He shows
he is most knowledgeable about the business affairs of Antonio “he
hath an Argosy bound to Tripolis, and other to the Indies…”
Immediately the audience can see that S...


... middle of paper ...


...ers the scales to weigh the amputated flesh, Bassanio
and Gratiano offer their wives lives in exchange for Antonio’s life.
Shylock scorns their exaggeration and bombasity, “These be the
Christians husbands”, Shylock then mentions his own daughter to bring
Jessica to mind at this point in the play, his daughter to the
Christians in the true root of his desire to kill Antonio.

At the last moment Portia points out the flaw in Shylocks bond, the
facts that a drop of blood may not be spilled. With glee the
Christians begin to torment Shylock, taking his money, threatening his
life and ultimately insisting he is baptised and that Antonio will be
his Godfather. Amidst execrations Shylock “totters” from the play
probably to hang himself.

I have come to the conclusion that Shylock is only a product of his
environment.


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