Essay PreviewMore ↓
It is believed that that Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice,
between 1596 and 1589. At the time Englandwas a Christian country, and
the Jews were a misunderstood, prejudiced and marginalised people.
They were often forbidden to own land or engage in trade in England so
the only occupation open to them was money lending which they
exploited to the full, Christians were forbidden to practice usury and
the Jews were constantly portrayed as greedy misers and money-lenders.
So before the plot even starts, Shylock is condemned by the audience
for being a Jew and a vicious moneylender.
Shakespeare took a big risk in this play; if he portrayed Jews well,
so that the play offended the queen or if the audience disliked it and
took offence, he could have lost his life! Luckily for Shakespeare, he
was able to time invoke the audience's hatred for the "most
impenetrable cur", but at the same capture sympathy and understanding
from the audience towards Shylock. A measure of Shakespeare's
achievement is that the play allowed a range of different
interpretations of Shylock; people left the theatres with mixed
emotions about Shylock. He is one of the most complex characters in
English literature and scholars today still debate whether Shylock is
more a villain or a victim. In the course of this essay I will explore
the idea of Shylock being a man more sinned against than Sinning, a
villain or a victim.
Shylock's first line in the play is "Three thousand ducats." This can
be interpreted in two ways; as a man making a living at one of the few
occupations open to him, or a greedy, cold, materialistic man. I am of
the opinion that Shylock better fits the cold greedy character, as he
makes such a big deal about locking up the house (Act 2, Scene 5),
thus making the point of protecting his possessions. This shows him as
both a victim and a villain, scared of the outside world and
mistreated so much that he feels he has to emphasis at length the
How to Cite this Page
"Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Oct 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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]
768 words (2.2 pages)
- 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]
385 words (1.1 pages)
- 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]
2196 words (6.3 pages)
- 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]
1565 words (4.5 pages)
- 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]
522 words (1.5 pages)
- 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]
1878 words (5.4 pages)
- 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]
1254 words (3.6 pages)
- William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare is the story of a man who wishes to wed a woman, in order o do so he needs to borrow money from his good friend. The play is that of an anti-semitic one. The play is an anti-semitic one because the Jews are looked upon as evil and untrustworthy. For the entire play the Jew is never meant to look as a good person, and he is abused by almost everyone in the play. When the Jew does have his sympathetic lines, they were actually meant to be comedic.... [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]
678 words (1.9 pages)
- William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice In this piece of work, I am to discuss whether Portia is a modern woman of the sixteenth century. I am aiming to discuss many of her elements, relating and comparing them with the time in which the play is set. I will be looking at what aspects mark her out as a ‘modern’ woman and those that mark her out to be a ‘renaissance’ woman. When William Shakespeare wrote, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, he included a female character that leads the play dramatically.... [tags: Free Merchant of Venice Essays]
1190 words (3.4 pages)
- William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice In many ways, shylock is a more difficult character for a modern audience than for an Elizabethan audience. With close reference to Act 1 scene 3, Act 3 scene 1 and Act 4 scene 1 show how an actor might reveal the human being behind the stereotype. The merchant of Venice is a play written in Elizabethan times by William Shakespeare. The play is set in Elizabethan Venice. The play starts with Antonio, a rich merchant, who is depressed without any obvious reason.... [tags: Merchant of Venice Essays]
2277 words (6.5 pages)
Shylock is soon to be left alone, with no other family, his only
daughter Jessica elopes with the Christian, Lorenzo, (a friend of
Bassanio's.) Shylock gains pity from the audience when we learn of
Jessica apart of his "own flesh and blood" has gone, meaning that with
her gone it is as if a part of him has been taken too, however he soon
emerges as a villain when he screams in rage showing his emotions and
"My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter! Fled with a Christian! O my
This shows his hatred for Christians, that his property has more value
to him than his daughter.
Soon after Shylock pleas for equality in Act3, Scene 1, we can't help
but see his point of view and pity him.
"â€¦what's his reason? [Antonio's reason for hating Shylock] I am a Jew.
Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands organs, dimensions, senses,
affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same
Shylock is trying to say that we are all the same as one another, but
just have different religions. It surfaces that Antonio has gone
bankrupt, as all his wealth was invested in his ships which have been
sunk out at sea. Shylock's bond has now been activated and he demands
his rightful pound of flesh under Venetian law. Antonio is arrested
and brought before a court for Shylock to have his bond.
Right from the outset, the court is very one sided in favour of
Antonio. The Duke calls for Shylock saying, "Go on, and call the Jew
into the court" This shows the Duke as being biased against Jews and
Shylock, before they even start. He is obviously influencing the
court, with his own prejudiced view; and as a result Shylock is having
an unfair trail. He is being judged in a Christian court, not a court
of his peers. This earns Shylock some sympathy but when he enters the
court he quickly looses it through his words and actions.
He takes out his blade and starts sharpening it on his shoes, quelling
any doubt that he will show mercy. He is ready to cut into Antonio's
flesh when Portia (Bassanio's new wife in the guise of a lawyer) stops
"The bond doth give thee here no jot of blood"
Shylock's insistence that the bond is carried out to the letter, has
foiled him, his words are expressly a pound of flesh. Portia reveals
the flaw in the bond; Shylock is allowed his pound of flesh but not a
drop of blood, which would surely come if he enters his skin.
"If thou doest shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
are, by the laws of Venice, confiscated unto the state of Venice".
The bond that Shylock had created has ruined his plan for revenge. The
one thing that Shylock cares for more than anything will now be taken
from him if he takes his revenge. The tables have turned, the Venetian
law says that a penalty must be paid, because this "alien" has
attempted to murder a Venetian citizen. (Shylock is classed as an
alien in his home!) His possessions are confiscated because of the
attempted murder of Antonio, and the merchant now makes two conditions
for the Jew's life: firstly he must become Christian, and, secondly,
he must make a will leaving all of his possessions to Jessica and
Lorenzo. Not only has Shylock been converted to a Christian and
humiliated in court, he has not been returned his bond nor had
justice. The circumstances invoke a profound sympathy for the Jew, in
stark contrast to the hatred we had been feeling only moments before.
So without his revenge, wealth, or daughter, Shylock (now a Christian)
is alienated from his fellow Jews. Ironically he is left alone with
nothing but what ruined him - his new found Christianity.
Shylock can be seen as both a comic character, because of his
quick-wittedness replies throughout the play, and tragic because of
the loss of his daughter, friend and possessions. I think he has been
driven to the very edge of insanity, from the torment and prejudice
forced upon him throughout his life by his own Venetian community.
That has led him to such misfortune and bitterness and I am left
feeling that Shylock is both villain but more so victim.