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Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare

1062 words - 4 pages

In the Dukes opinion (Act iv, Sc.1) Shylock is ?? an inhuman wretch.? Do you agree? Do you feel that Shylock receives, ?justice? at the end of the play? The Merchant Of Venice was written by William Shakespeare, between 1596 and 1598. It was first published in 1600. Although this play is described as a romantic comedy, there is an underlying plot of moral dimension in the development of Shylocks character.Shylock is a Jew and at this time Jews were the focus of much racial prejudice and repression. In fact the Jewish community in the middle ages suffered huge prejudice. Jews were associated mainly with money lending, as Christians could not lend money at interest to other Christians. Shakespeare?s portrayal of Shylock and Tubal is based on common prejudice and ignorance tempered by his own liberal tolerance. This racial prejudice is relevant within the play because is justifies the behaviour of shylock. It is this prejudice that sets the plot and is a major theme within The Merchant Of Venice.Antonio who is supposed to be a hero is portrayed as a self- righteous prig at times. Portia who might be expected to play a timid heiress is in fact shown as a strong-minded woman, and Shylock is represented as a tragic outsider.Shylock is a moneylender. He follows the Jewish religion and has a house in Venice. He lives with his daughter and is a widower. It is not easy to see Shylock as a straightforward villain though, despite the fact that when we first meet him, this is what he appears to be. The Duke calls Shylock an ?inhuman wretch.? The Duke?s greeting for Antonio is warm, but he damns Shylock with great forcefulness. What The Duke does here is enforce the audience?s views of Shylock. Notwithstanding his jaundiced view of Shylock, the Duke tries to reason with him, and attempts to play upon his feelings of comparison and mercy for a fellow human being.Everybody including Tubal hates Shylock. In Act 3 SC.1, Tubal winds up Shylock about his daughter leaving him for as Christian, and taking the families treasures.Any sympathy that the audience may have for Shylock as a result of his impassioned speech quickly evaporates as they listen to him rail against his daughter. His only concerns are for his Ducats, his jewels and now more ominously, his revenge.?Thou stick?st a dagger in me. I shall never see my gold again- Fourscore Ducats at a sitting! Fourscore Ducats? This tells us that he is extremely greedy and he has more concerns over his wealth than his own daughter. Is this the act of a human being or of an inhuman wretch? We learn that even Jessica despises her own father. Jessica acquaints us with her unhappiness at home because of her father. The fact that Shylock is a lone figure in the play is underlined by the fact that even his own daughter is ashamed of him. Jessica is ashamed because of the way that Shylock acts towards everyone in the play. As I have said, everyone hates Shylock but even his own daughter...

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