Essay on Defining Shylock from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Essay on Defining Shylock from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Length: 1613 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Defining Shylock from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

For hundreds of years, the Jews had lived in their ancestral home-
Palestine- but when they were exiled in about the year 400AD, they
scattered throughout Europe and formed a Diaspora: a community of
exiled people. When the Roman Empire deteriorated, many of the Jews
returned to Palestine, and were ruled by the Turks, then the British,
eventually got their own state in 1946.

In 1066, when Jews came over to Britain with William the conqueror,
they had to wear yellow bands to distinguish them: this was highly
discriminating and many Jews were even blamed in murder cases where
Christian children were involved, meaning that many Jews were
executed.

The play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ was written by William Shakespeare,
and he’d probably never met any Jews in his life and, unlike many
other plays written about or involving Jewish characters, managed to
create a character that was not distinctly evil.

My opinion of Shylock is that he is neither a hero nor a villain
because defining him as either of these would make him almost above
humanity. A hero is someone who has to struggle against the odds and
has to make the ultimate sacrifice but will eventually pull through to
be triumphant; on the other hand, a villain is someone who is evil and
selfish, and whose actions are for his own satisfaction and go against
the good of the people.

After reading ‘The Merchant of Venice’, I think that Shylock sees
himself as a hero because he believes he is defending his religion; he
is, of course, viewed as a villain by the Christians. The problem that
we are then faced with ...


... middle of paper ...


...
more so, because of the way that they have treated Shylock. All of
Shylocks actions were provoked in some way and he reacted the only way
he knew how in situations he was forced into. Shylock sought revenge
for the bullying from the Christians, but didn’t create the situation
himself; he simply took the opportunity that was offered to him to
satisfy his own anger. I think that Shylock is a naturally selfish
person and the situation with Antonio simply made these negative
characteristics seem much worse.

I think that the question “Shylock: hero or villain?” is the wrong one
to ask of the character of Shylock. Shylock is more than a
one-dimensional character and describing Shylock as a hero or a
villain would seem to immortalise him, which would be incorrect
because, as we can see, Shylock is simply a human being.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice Essay

- Upon an initial examination of William Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, a reader is provided with superficial details regarding the moral dilemmas embedded in the text. Further analysis allows a reader to recognize the multi-faceted issues each character faces as an individual in response to his or her surroundings and/or situations. Nevertheless, the subtle yet vital motif of music is ingrained in the play in order to offer a unique approach to understanding the plot and its relationship with the characters....   [tags: The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare, Love]

Better Essays
930 words (2.7 pages)

The Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare And Post War Maus Essay

- It is fairly obvious that marginalization can distort logic action and reason. Even if one is not inherently marginalized, trauma, whether physical or mental, may occur from unfortunate experiences. Case in point, we as a society become more aware of those living with PTSD every day, such as soldiers and victims of sexual assault, and how these people are challenged to continue living a normal life. We see veterans flock to the Artillery Club, victims of assault go to group counselling, trying to find people that share their experiences and understand how they feel....   [tags: Love, The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare]

Better Essays
1414 words (4 pages)

Essay on Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

- Homosexuality in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice With every great story line comes a theme. William Shakespeare created an art of intertwining often unrecognizable themes within his plays. In Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, one hidden theme is the idea of homosexuality. This theme might not have even been noticed until modern Shakespeare fans discovered them. According to Alan Bray’s book, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, “the modern image of ‘the homosexual’ cannot be applied to the early modern period, when homosexual behavior was viewed in terms of the sexual act and not an individual's broader identity.” (Columbia University Press)....   [tags: William Shakespeare Merchant Venice Essays]

Better Essays
1464 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Iago's Motives in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

- Iago's Motives in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Iago, having the typical attributes of a Machiavelli character; seems to be inherently evil. He revels in his ability to dissemble and destroy. Defending himself through constant reassurances- Iago claims to disgrace Cassio because of his `daily beauty' and the fact that a `Florentine' who knows nothing about battles `more than a spinster' becomes lieutenant. This seems to outrage him- a spark that sets of the fire raging in his heart. As a result, he fabricates an ingenious plan- one by one he would make everyone pay....   [tags: William Shakespeare Merchant Venice Essays]

Better Essays
768 words (2.2 pages)

The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare The "Merchant Of Venice" is a poem I have studied recently and will be going on to describe it's four themes - Love/Hate/Friendship and Money. I will go on to describe contrasting characters in the poem. The theme Love is mostly shown through Portia & Bassanio, because all she wanted was to have a choice in the man she married and the reason she could not do this was because her fathers will had forbidde. When Portia & Bassanio meet they really feel they want to be with each other but she does not want Bassanio to chose casket straight away because if he picks the wrong casket he must not see Portia again....   [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
385 words (1.1 pages)

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare Essay

- The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare was written between 1594-1596.It is classified as a comedy; it is also a work of good triumphs over evil, but serious themes are examined and some issues remain unresolved. In the play Shakespeare has woven together plots from different books. Shakespeare gets the bond story and the story of the ring from an Italian novella, LL Pecorone, in a collection put together by Sir Geovanni and published in 1558....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Better Essays
2196 words (6.3 pages)

Essay on The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

- The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice is a play full of different relationships ranging from love and friendships to hate. These relationships are affected by gossips and rumours, which due to the close community are flying around all the time. Money is involved in everything in the play; it is at the centre of work, relationships and rumours. It also holds together and makes the main tension of the play. There are many relationships in The Merchant of Venice....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Better Essays
1565 words (4.5 pages)

Essay on The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

- The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare The famous play 'The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare concerns several plot lines, including the bond, the ring, the caskets and the elopement. The bond is the main plot and usury is a key part of this. It is because Shylock is a moneylender who lends money to a Christian. Shylock is crucial because he is a crucial character to 2 plots including the main one. When Antonio first meets Shylock he is immediately unkind to Shylock because he is a Jew....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Free Essays
522 words (1.5 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

- William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare, having spent most of his youth in England, was influenced by England’s beliefs. England was going through a Christian reformation that had caused friction between Christians and Jews. Jews and Christians did not see eye to eye on almost everything and especially on usury, the practice of lending money with interest. Boyce, a Shakespearean critique, sums up the negative attitude that Christians had on Jews in the 16th Century: “Sixteenth-Century Englishmen tended to attribute to Jews only two important characteristics, both negative: first, that Jews detested Christians and gave much energy to devi...   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Better Essays
1878 words (5.4 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

- 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....   [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]

Better Essays
1254 words (3.6 pages)