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Shylock as a Villian or Victim in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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Shylock as a Villian or Victim in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

The Merchant Of Venice is the story of Antonio, a merchant, borrowing
money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, in order to fund his best
friend Bassanio’s romantic ambitions. Like the majority of the
habitants of Venice, Antonio is Christian. At the time of the play,
the sixteenth century, there was a huge abhorrence against those who
were not Christian. As Antonio needed money quickly he had no
alternative to borrowing from Shylock; Jewish moneylenders made profit
from charging interests. Christians were resentful towards Jews as
they were very successful with their businesses. Christians were
prejudice because they didn’t want Jews to become wealthier in a
Christian country. Therefore Jews had to live in enclosed and
segregated areas called ghettos. This shows Shylock being victimised
in the play, as all Jews were back in the sixteenth century

Shylock first takes to the stage in Act I Scene iii. This scene shows
Bassanio seeking Shylock in order for him to ask to borrow money in
the name of Antonio. We learn of a mutual detestation between Shylock
and Antonio. Shylock confronts Antonio saying “In the Rialto you have
rated me about my moneys and my usances”. Shylock is saying that in
the Rialto, the trading centre of Venice, Antonio insulted him
publicly about his money and interests. Shylock continues saying
Antonio “spit upon my Jewish gaberdine!” This is clearly a sign of
contempt and very disrespectful to the whole of the Jewish race. These
two statements show Shylock being victimised purely because he is of
the Jewish faith.

Shylock, speakin...


... middle of paper ...


... the outcome of the trial.

In conclusion, Shylock is definitely intended to be William
Shakespeare’s villain. He is a vengeful character whose is vindictive
towards everyone else, in particular Antonio and Jessica, his own
daughter. However, Shylock is victimised by many unfairly. This is
mainly due to the fact that he is a Jew. Shylock possesses many
stereotypical characteristics for a villain, such as being evil and
vengeful but unlike most villains he does not step outside the law.
The only reason he wants to kill Antonio is because he could legally.
Through Shylock, Shakespeare explores the way in which the line
between the oppressed and the oppressor can become blurred. It seems
to me that when Shylock is villainous when becomes victimised; when
Shylock is shown as a victim it results in him becoming villainous.


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