Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice


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Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice


Right from the start of when Shylock is introduced he could be seen as
an "ogre” because he is prepared to do business that will profit
himself with Antonio and Bassanio but when asked to talk and eat with
them he takes it as an insult to him through his religion. "Yes to
smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the nazarite
conjured the devil into." Shylock may have his reasons to not want to
socialise with Antonio and Bassanio, the two Christians, but they are
worthless, as he has still chosen to do business with them and so
there're taking advantages of both his religion and the ability to
make money.

When Shylock first appears with Bassanio he is discussing a loan
proposal and the terms of it are repeated so many times, this is done
to show the contrast between the two characters, the cautious crafty
old business man and the decent young client.

A bit later on in the play when Shylock is finalising the deal with
Antonio and after he has shown the audience how much of a victim he is
by way of the long speech about how Antonio has abused him on the
street, he suggests a different approach to the loan in time a pound
of flesh will be taken off Antonio. Shylock seems to make this deal
out of friendship between them. "There is much kindness in the Jew"
the quote shows that Antonio believes that Shylock is making a real
effort to become friends. Shylock speech about him being a victim
earlier on further makes Antonio more sympathetic to his situation and
accepted the deal.

Shylock is a greedy money lender. Shylock charges high interest rates
and when he is not repaid he insists on revenge. In the play Shylock
loans Antonio money, and he suggests that if the loan wasn’t repaid in
time Shylock may cut off one pound of flesh from Antonio's body. Soon
after Shylock's daughter runs away from home with Lorenzo, a

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Christian, and takes her father's ducats with her. When Antonio's
ships do not come in and he is not able to repay the loan, Shylock is
no longer interested in getting his money back. Shylock wants revenge
for the loss of his daughter through the performance of the bond. In
court Shylock is defeated because of his selfishness.

Right through the rest of the play, Shylock does not do anything to
show that he is a good person and anything else that he does that
could be seen as him doing something good for someone else always
seems to benefit himself more. An example of this is when he asks
Jessica to 'lock up my doors' throughout the passage he always refers
to the house as his house and not their house. Shylock does not seem
to have any respect for his own daughter. Further evidence of this is
when he repeatedly calls her, and shows little concern of her
feelings. Also Antonio called Shylock a dog. “You call me
mis-believer, cut-throat dog….” Calling someone a dog is low and mean.
It makes them feel like they don’t know what’s right and wrong. An
animal rather than a human being. Shylock also got spat by Antonio.
“Fair sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last, you spurned me such a
day, another time you called me a dog and for the courtesies….”
Shylock had to endure all those bad things which start to make us feel
sorry for him.

Shakespeare also shows the human qualities of Shylock throughout the
play. Shakespeare brings out these human qualities by causing us to
feel sympathy for him. After the loss of his daughter Shylock ran
through the streets crying "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
“As children followed him, mocking him. This causes us to feel
sympathy for Shylock, even through we may feel to be an ogre. Besides
the loss of his daughter and his ducats (money), after the trial,
Shylock also loses his property and his religion. The loss of his
property was certainly a blow to Shylock but it can hardly compare to
his loss of his religion. His forced conversion to Christianity brings
out more sympathy for him.

In my conclusion I do think that Shylock is an Ogre and deserved the
consequences that he got.


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