William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

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William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

"The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare features, Shylock a

very controversial character due to his religion, profession and

personal traits. Professionally Shylock lends money to people in debt,

in order to gain interest and profit. Although, this is very much

central to our modern way of life, in the Elizabethan period, money

lending was not accepted as an acceptable profession. Throughout "The

Merchant of Venice" Shylock is portrayed as menacing, inhumane and

slightly eccentric, yet at times misunderstood and induces sympathy

from the reader. His personal traits and beliefs evoke complex

emotions. We cannot decide whether Shylock is an unforgiving, menacing

character or is in actual fact in the right and extremely hard done

by. Consequently, I propose to discuss the view that Shylock is as

much sinned as sinning.

When his daughter lies and steals from him Shylock is seen as a poor

and sinned against character. His daughter, Jessica, falls in love

with a Christian and plans to elope. Strong religious prejudices are

established at this point in the play. In order to elope, Jessica

steals from her father by conning him. Dramatic irony is used in this

scene. The audience and Jessica are aware, that as soon as Shylock

leaves Jessica alone in his house she will steal from him. However,

Shylock is not aware of this. Shylock is deeply grieved at his loss of

money and his daughter. Shylock's own daughter running away and

stealing from him contributes to the mockery that Shylock suffers from

the other characters in the play.

"Solanio: As the dog Jew did utter in the street:


... middle of paper ...

...lock as he had treated

Bassanio and all present in court.

"Shylock: I take this offer then; pay thrice the bond and let the



Portia: He shall have nothing but the penalty".

Shylock learns the error of his ways by leaving court penniless,

homeless and stripped of his religion. Although Shylock appears to

have suffered, his suffering is a result of the sins that he committed

and an example of how Shylock is more sinning than sinned.

From the evidence present it is clear that Shylock, although a very

complex character, had many bad traits. However it is also apparent

that for these mean characteristics, Shylock had just cause. Shylock

offers no kindness towards fellowman and in return is treated with the

disrespect he deserves. In conclusion, Shylock is as much sinned

against as sinning.
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