The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

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The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock as rapacious and cruel is in the

traditional style of an Elizabethan villain. A modern audience could

argue that he has also humanised Shylock, and therefore gained some

sympathy for his actions.

From your reading of the “Merchant of Venice” examine these diverse

reactions to the complex characterisation of Shylock.

Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock is unconditionally evil, and a

stereo-typical villain. Studying the “Merchant of Venice” has made me

realise that Shakespeare has not only written for an Elizabethan

audience when writing the play, but written in a style which a modern

audience would find interesting as well, dealing with issues such as

prejudice, racism and religion. The message put across by these

topics would get different reactions within the two contrasting

era’s. A modern audience would have different views concerning

prejudice, racism and religion, because we are now more aware of what

such issues can cause and we are a multi-ethnic society. An

Elizabethan audience would be more intolerant when compared to a

contemporary audience as the viewers were very much anti-semitic. In

my view I feel that an Elizabethan audience would be biased because

they are all Christians, therefore making them against Shylock for the

religion he is associated with (Judaism), hence the reason this

certain congregation would take Antonio’s side. As a modern viewer

however my sympathy for Shylock increases throughout the play, as he

is separated from the rest of the human race just because he has

different beliefs.

Shylock has a series of...

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From analysing the play it has come apparent that Antonio and Shylock

are two totally opposite strong characters. Shylock seeks revenge for

a number of different reasons one of which being culture. ‘He hates

our sacred nation’ suggests that Shylock has acted on behalf of his

Jewish nation and not just upon the personal grudge between himself

and Antonio.

Shakespeare has written Shylocks character in order to impress two

different eras, which I feel he succeeds in. He raises a series of

different issues which enable audience to express there contrasting

views. He creates Shylock in such a way he is portrayed as an

Elizabethan scoundrel but a modern case to pity. I believe it is the

racism and prejudice Shylock undergoes which adds to the drama of the

play and creates more sympathy for his character.
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