"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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