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Shylock In William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

1754 words - 7 pages

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

'I am a Jew' a famous saying from Shylock in 'Merchant of Venice' that
clarifies the merchant brotherhood of a wealthy city. 'Merchant of
Venice' contains rascals and heroes. The audiences will soon realise
that Shylock, the Jewish money lender, is shown as a villain within
the wealthy city. Is this really what Shakespeare had intended? This
testimony given 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 quotation shows that the Christians think the
Jewish people are 'Cut-throat' and operate in a way the audience would
not expect. Shakespeare's audience relate to him as an 'alien' because
the Christians believe Jewish people were shown as evil people.

The next point to why Shylock could be seen as a villain in the
society is because he is shown as a Jewish money lender. This means
Shylock makes money by adding interest to the money he loans to
Christians. I know this because Shylock says 'He lends out money
gratis, and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice'
(Act 1 scene 3 line 39). This quotation shows us that Shylock explains
his hatred towards Antonio, a valuable Christian, by lending out money
without adding interest on to the loan. Shylock shows rivalry towards
Antonio by exploring why he uses usury to make him a wealthy
tradesman.

Another reason why Shylock can be seen as a villain is because of his
daughter Jessica, wanting to become a Christian. This is going to
bring shame on Shylock in front of everyone. This is shown by Jessica
saying 'Our house is hell' (Act 2 Scene 3 Line 2) and Shylock saying
'She is damn'd for this' (Act 3 Scene 1 line 29). These quotations
tell you that Jessica thinks that the rivalry of Jews and Christians
is tedious. While Shylock is telling Salanio and Salarino that if
Jessica runs away with Lorenzo, a Christian trader, it will bring
shame on the Jewish people. The reason for this is because Shylock
believes in his Jewish roots that Jews will be Jews and Christians
will be Christians.

A further reason why Shylock is shown as a villain is because he is
intending on revenge against Antonio. The reason for this is because
of the loan Shylock gave Antonio. I know that Shylock wants revenge by
saying 'The pound of flesh which I demand of him' (Act 4 Scene 1 line
99) and 'I'll have my bond…' (Act 3 Scene 3 line 4). I choose these
quotations because it shows you that Shylock set a three-month
...

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