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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 stereotypical Jew would be portrayed as, a villain and an antagonist.

In Act 1 Scene 3, Shylock is presented as clannish and austere because of Antonio’s and the Christians unfair and ill treatment towards him, Shylock accuses Antonio for calling him a ...view middle of the document...

In Act 2 Scene 5, Shylock’s hatred towards the Christians is more obvious, as he only wants to go to the dinner with Antonio, Bassanio and the Christians to “feed upon the prodigal Christian”, this implies that Shylock isn’t going for a friendly dinner to feed upon his hatred for the Christians, also the phrase “prodigal Christian” implies that Christians are very wasteful and spend money extravagantly, also Shylock previously said is Act 1 Scene 3 to Bassanio that he will not “dine with you, drink with you, nor pray with you” and here Shylock is going to contradicting himself by going to dinner with them, this emphasises how vengeful Shylock is as he overlooks his religious principles and even ignores his premonitions of evil just because of his vengeful nature . Shylock is proven to be money-minded as he “did dream of money bags tonight” this emphasises Shylocks obsession and greed with money as he thinks about it all the time even in his sleep.

In Act 3 Scene 1, Shylock’s “to bait fish withal speech” is a key moment in this play as this portrays Shylock a victim even thought earlier on in the play he was presented as a villain. Shylock’s uses pathos in his speech where he states how similar a Jew and a Christian are “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands?” Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?, he uses this to prove that a Jew and a Christian are still the same but it proves not to be as effective so he changes to logos If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” The repetition of “if” shows Shylock’s frustration and aggravation for all the ill-treatment he was a victim of, Shakespeare uses anaphora to evoke a sense of anger which creates a tense atmosphere which makes the audience think about how this relates to the world we live in where there is no equality between humans and this speech is deliberately used to prove that all human should be treated equally no matter how we look or how act as in the end we are all the same, we are all equal. Shylocks speech is a powerful and moving speech in this play, as it holds so much meaning and it’s a speech that almost everyone can relate to and it also makes the audience see Shylock in a whole new light, a victim motivated by his vengeance towards the Christians who have caused him pain emotionally and physically

In Act 3 Scene 3 after Shylock has found out about Antonio’s ships not returning, Antonio comes to speak with Shylock however Shylock who is excited as he will finally get revenge on Antonio refuses to speak to Antonio however utters this monosyllabic statement “I’ll have my bond”, this bond is the only thing Shylock has left as he has lost his daughter and his money bags and Shylocks use of limited words emphasise his anger and he fact that this bond is all he has....

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