The Characters of Shylock and Bassanio in A Merchant of Venice


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First let me start of by explaining the common stereotype of a hero and of a villain: A hero is associated as being brave, generous, warm hearted and an all round good person. A villain is normally thought of as cruel, deceiving, hurtful and evil.

The characters in A Merchant of Venice can all fit into one of these
catagories but especially those of Shylock and Bassanio.

Shylock's job is as a moneylender. Insists on a lot of interest back,
selfish when Antonio approaches him for money to borrow. If Antonio
does not pay Shylock back in the time he's given with interest Shylock
gets to cut a pound of his skin out from wherever he chooses. Antonio
foolishly agrees to this arrangement. This is definitely something
that a villain would do, as Shylock plans to cut out a pound of flesh
which would kill Antonio. Murder definitely is something a villain
would consider or do.

When Shylocks daughter goes missing he seems to be happier that
Antonio's ships have crashed than worried about his daughter. It
doesn't seem as though he is a very caring man.

But maybe Shylock has an excuse for the way he acts. Maybe he is not a
villain after all. He has always been treated badly by many other
people living in Venice, as he is a Jew and the rest Christians. With
so much cruelty given to him maybe he deserves to give a little back
without really being cruel, just getting his deserved revenge? Also at
times Shylock can be a rather decent man.

Bassanio in this play seem to be a very good, loyal man and holds many
qualities that a hero would. When he goes to try and win Portia's love
he chooses the right casket that must mean that the way he feels about
Portia is what her father would have wanted. Which probably means that
he isn't just after her money, instead loves her as a person and wants

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to be with her for all the rights reasons. Meaning that he must
respect her, definitively a quality of a hero: respect.

He is also called Antonio's 'Most noble kinsman'. Which must make him
a good friend who doesn't only think of himself: hero. Being a good
friend shows through at one point in the play, when he offers Shylock
double the money he had lent in replacement to Antonio being killed.


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