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Is Shylock Victim Or Villain In William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

1243 words - 5 pages

Is Shylock Victim Or Villain in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare wrote the Merchant of Venice in the Elizabethan
period. The play is about Shylock, a Jewish money lender¡: trying to
make a living and survive in a community that despises him and
marginalia's him. Before the plot even starts, Shylock is condemned
for being a Jew, and a moneylender. Jews were forbidden to be
successful businessmen in Venice, so the only occupation open to him
was money lending which they exploited to the full, this gave
Shakespeare an opportunity to capture sympathy and understanding from
the reader towards Shylock.

One of Shylock's first phrases in the play is "Three thousand ducats".
This can be seen in two ways: as a man making a living at one of the
very few occupations open to him, or a greedy cold materialistic man.
I think he fits the cold greedy character more, because he makes such
a big point about locking up the house and protecting his possessions.
Also this shows him as a victim scared of the outside world.

Shylock is left alone with no family, as Jessica, his daughter, elopes
with Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio's. Shylock earns pity from the
audience when he tells Bassanio that, "My daughter is my flesh and
blood", meaning that with her gone it is as if a part of him has been
taken too. He turns into a villain when he screams in rage showing his
emotions and strong views "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! Only Christian ducats" This shows his hatred
for Christians, and that his property has more value to him than his
daughter's life.

Shylock's famous plea for equality in Act three, shows him as a
victim. He says, "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 weapons". Shylock is trying to say that
we are all the same as one another, but just have different religions.

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. Shylock is represented as a villain, in the court scene in Act
Four, Scene One. He walks in and places the scales of justice, on the
table taking off his Jewish gabardine. The court scene is Shylock's
only chance for some justice, if not in the bond then as a way of
revenge for how he has been treated all his life. The court is very
one sided from the minute Shylock is ordered in by the judge. "Go on,
and call the Jew into the court" This shows the judge as being biased
against Jews and Shylock, even before they start. He is blatantly
influencing the court, with his own prejudiced views; thus Shylock is
having an unfair trail. He is being judged in a...

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