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Shylock In William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

2249 words - 9 pages

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

The above statement suggests two assumptions. Firstly, that Shylock is
an unattractive character in the play. I agree with this assumption,
but only to a certain extent. Secondly, the statement assumes that all
the other characters in The Merchant of Venice are not unattractive,
but kind and good. I disagree with this statement to a large extent.

This essay will put forward reasons why I agree and disagree with
respective assumptions, as well as why I disagree with the question
overall. It will also consider arguments supporting or opposing
earlier assumptions.

It is true that Shylock is an unattractive character, the villain of
the play, because he sought to kill Antonio in order to avenge
himself. Therefore, I agree with this assumption.

Firstly, Shylock was taunting Antonio, and luring Antonio into a trap
as he said, "O would be friends with you and have your love,/ Forget
the shames that you have stained me with,/ Supply your present wants,
and take no doit/ Of usance for my moneys, and you'll not hear me./
This is kind I offer." (1.3) He also continued to explain, "A pound of
man's flesh taken from a man/ Is not so estimable, profitable
neither,/ As flesh of muttons, beefs or goats." (1.3.160-2) Antonio,
having been convinced by Shylock, agreed to the bond.

He was bloodthirsty as well. When he heard that Antonio's ships had
sunk, Shylock said, "I am very glad of it. I'll plague him; I'll
torture him. I am glad of it." (3.1.108-9) The quote shows his
viciousness and his thirst to kill. During Act 4 Scene 1, Bassanio
asked Shylock, "Why dost thou whet thy knife/ so earnestly?" Shylock
was confident of victory, and he was going to enjoy cutting of
Antonio's flesh.

Next, he was bent on seeking revenge. Even when faced with money and
the great merchants of Venice, he refused to budge. "Twenty
merchants,/ The Duke himself, and the magnificoes/ Of greatest port
have all persuaded with him,/ But none can drive him from the envious
plea/ Of forfeiture, of justice, and his bond." (Solanio/3.2.280) "If
every ducat in six thousand ducats/ Were in six parts, and every part
a ducat,/ I would not draw them. I would have my bond."
(Shylock/1.3.110-8)

Furthermore, he himself swore on his religion that he would have his
bond. "And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn/ To have the due and
forfeit of my bond." (Shylock/4.1.36-7) However, when Portia tried to
plead with his religion by saying, "We do pray for mercy,/ And that
same prayer doth teach us all to render/ The deeds of mercy."
(4.1.99-101), he would not budge. In this way, the adamant Jew was
going against his own religion, because in the seeking of revenge, he
was breaking a Jewish law, and further supports that he is an
unattractive character.

Shylock...

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