Shakespeare's Merchant Of Venice: Was Shylock A Victim Or A Villain?

784 words - 3 pages

The persecution of specific races has always been existent, and throughout history, the Jewish religion has suffered most from it. They were convicted of heresy, and often killed because of their beliefs. Such is the kind of racial discrimination toward Shylock, the Jewish character in "The Merchant of Venice." Some believe that the character as a greedy, coldhearted villain, which is not the case. In Shakespeare's play, "The Merchant of Venice," Shylock was a victim of years' struggle against discrimination toward his religion.One of the most persistent charges against Shylock was that he was cruel and bloodthirsty. Antonio says in act 4 scene 1 that it is impossible to soften "his Jewish heart." Bassanio constantly calls him a cur and insults him; how can he call Shylock coldhearted when he and many other characters constantly jeer at Shylock. This also added reason for Shylock's revenge. He wasn't a bloodthirsty miscreant, but a Jew fighting for revenge against years of being spet upon, being treated like a dog, being a victim to Christianity. In his "I am a Jew" speech, he gives these precise reasoning, saying "to bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge" (Act 3, Scene 1). He doesn't seek revenge personally against Antonio, but against the Christians that have jeered at him and his religion for so long. He explains how since he is a human like any other Christian, he may seek revenge like any other Christian has. The constant repetition in his speech is the word: revenge. Shylock is accused of being bloodthirsty and barbarous, when his quest for revenge differed none from the vengeance any other human would seek and deserve.Another reason Shylock was criticized was for not showing mercy toward Antonio. In no way was Shylock impelled to let Antonio off easily. On the contrary, the agreement had been made very straightforwardly. Shylock says in act 4, scene 1, "Wouldst thou have a serpent sting thee twice?" Shylock uses a metaphor to describe the discriminatory acts against him as a serpent's sting. He had been stung before by this, and now, when he has a chance for revenge to slay the serpent, he would not back down and let the serpent sting once more. But unfortunately, the serpent evaded his sword on a technicality, and in fact did sting once...

Find Another Essay On Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice: Was Shylock a Victim or a Villain?

Shylock; a Villain or a Victim?

1036 words - 5 pages Venice, it is easy to see why one would think of Shylock as the symbol of the devil, but perhaps William Shakespeare intended for Shylock to be portrayed as the misunderstood victim. It is evident throughout the play that Shylock is a victim of a form of racism, namely anti-Semitism. At the start of The Merchant of Venice, it is revealed in Act 1, Scene 3 that Antonio mistreated him in the past. Shylock recalls how Antonio “rated [him] About [his

William Shakespeare's Shylock: Villain or Victim

3449 words - 14 pages William Shakespeare's Shylock: Villain or Victim In "The Merchant of Venice" Shakespeare confronts a considerable issue of his time, known as Anti Semitism. "Shylock", his stereotypical Jew lends money to a Christian in an agreement that flesh would be cut from the Christian's body, should it not be paid. Looking at the history of Jews in England, it is evident that Jews were persecuted and murdered up until 1290

Shylock Villain or Victim

851 words - 3 pages contemporary audience's view would be less prejudiced and more sympathetic towards Shylock than an audience in Shakespeare's time. This is so because now, there is much more religious toleration compared to the past such as Shakespeare's time. Since this play is written from a point of view from Shakespeare's time, Shylock is portrayed more as a villain then a victim. While Shylock was tortured by Christians, this is no excuse in wanting to murder another, even if it was for revenge. Shylock can be considered as a villain not for his religion, but for his personality.Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare

Shylock - Victim or Villain

1365 words - 5 pages prejudice that the minority of Venice suffers, but it is very hard to class Shylock as simply a victim or villain for he is a complex character who can be interpreted in many ways.A Shakespearian audience would have regarded Shylock as a villain, as usury was condemned by the Christian religion in this period, and this means that he was portrayed unsympathetically. The play is a comedy, meaning that no one dies, and that the "good guys" always win

Shylock A Ruthless Villain or A Persecuted Victim

1501 words - 7 pages A villain in a play is a “character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot” and a victim in the terms of this play is “a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment”. Shylock in Merchant of Venice is a Jewish moneylender and Jewish people during Shakespearean time were looked down upon, treated unfairly with no respect. Shylock in Merchant of Venice is portrayed as how a

Shylock as the Villain in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

3053 words - 12 pages Shylock as the Villain in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare wrote 'The Merchant of Venice' in about 1597. It was first performed by The Chamberlain's Men at the Theatre Shoreditch. The Merchant of Venice was in the repertory of Shakespeare's company before they took up residence at the Globe in 1599. The play was written as a comedy, but has become a serious drama. In order to answer

The Tragedy of Shylock, a Critical essay on Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice

1998 words - 8 pages Raymond Schmit PAGE \* MERGEFORMAT 6 ShakespeareThe Tragedy of ShylockI had not read the Merchant of Venice before this class. All of my familiarity with the play was based on hearsay, and for some reason I got the idea in my heads that it was a tragedy. I thought that Shylockdid receive a pound of flesh from Antonio, but that it was just skin removed from his back. This gruesome image was what I was waiting for during my entire reading of the

In your opinion does Shakespeare present Shylock as a victim or a villain

878 words - 4 pages In Your Opinion Does Shakespeare present Shylock as a Victim or a Villain? Shylock’s greed is displayed through his resentment to people against him. The wickedness of Shylock’s character is demonstrated in Act 3 Scene 1 line 43, where Shylock is thrilled with Antonio’s failures, and desires him to be even more troubled by wanting Antonio “look to his bond”. Shylock purposefully reiterates this, so that the people around him will realise how

Shylock : a Villain in appearance, a Victim at heart

2070 words - 8 pages , Shakespeare wrote this play as the Lopez case was fresh in people?s minds, and he knew that a play about a detested Jew would be of great interest. (Shylock in William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice:2 ) Shylock as a villain: If we want to talk about Shylock in the role of being a villain. A lot of people would agree. During the play, from the beginning we might excuse other Christians especially Antonio. Shylock says: ?How like a fawning

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1754 words - 7 pages proposes that Shylock is more of a deceitful character than what the Christian colony wants us to comprehend. In my essay I intend to explore if Shylock is really a villain or a victim of his society. Shylock is a Jew, which is why the Christians of Venice dislike him. This is shown by 'If it be proved against an alien' (Act 4 Scene 1 line 345) because in Shakespeare's time Jews were seen as outsiders within the city. This

Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1272 words - 5 pages Shylock of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Shylock is one of the main characters in Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice", he starts in the play as an outcast of society because he is Jewish. Shylock has been forced to become a banker in his life as an inhabitant of Venice, for the fact that his religion is seen as wrong. Although Shylock is forced to become a banker he plays a vital role in the city

Similar Essays

The Merchant Of Venice: Is Shylock A Villain Or A Victim?

1061 words - 4 pages In this essay I will try to discover is Shylock a villain or a victim, in the William Shakespeare play “The Merchant of Venice” It is difficult to say if Shylock is a complete villain or a victim, as his character is complex and ambiguous. However, it is difficult to view Shylock as anything other than a devious, bloodthirsty and heartless villain in the majority of the play. There are a few points in the story where he can be viewed as

The Character Of Shylock As A Victim Or Villain In The Merchant Of Venice

2740 words - 11 pages The Character of Shylock as a Victim or Villain in The Merchant of Venice Do you consider the character of shylock to be a victim or villain in the play The Merchant of Venice? Shylock is one of the most interesting, memorable and debated characters in the play “The Merchant of Venice”. In many ways this is because he is both a victim and a villain. Shylock was made a laughing stock of and is ridiculed by the

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

Victim Or Villain? How Is Shylock Presented In 'the Merchant Of Venice'?

1956 words - 8 pages The merchant in 'The Merchant of Venice', by William Shakespeare, there appears Shylock. As the play unfolds Shylock is seen to be the villain. He is portrayed as being cold, unbending, and evil. But is he? Is Shylock really the antagonist in this play or can he also be viewed as a persecuted individual who resorts to revenge only after he has been pushed too far. To fully understand the character of Shylock we must first look at Elizabethan