Shylock as Villian in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice


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Shylock as Villian in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

 

        In Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice the antagonist of the play is

Shylock.  Shylock is a wealthy Jewish moneylender. Shylock is probably the

most memorable character in the play because of Shakespeare's excellent

characterization of him. Shylock is the antagonist in the play because he

stands in the way of love, but this does not necessarily make him the

villain of the play.  Shylock can be seen as both the villain of the play

and as a man who is very human.

 

      The villain that we see in Shylock is the greedy moneylender.

Shylock charges high interest rates and when he is not repaid he insists on

revenge.  In the play Shylock loans Antonio money, and out of jest he

suggests that should the loan not be 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 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 want revenge for the loss of his daughter through the fulfillment

of the bond.  In court Shylock is defeated because of his selfishness.

 

      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 though we may feel him to be a villain. Besides the loss of his

daughter and his ducats, after the trial Shylock also looses his property

and his religion.

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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.

 

      Shakespeare's manipulation of our feelings for Shylock show

Shakespeare's gift as a writer.  He gave Shylock the ability to make us

hate him at times, and sympathize with him at others.  This makes Shylock

one of the most vivid characters of the play.

 


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