The Aspects of Shylock in Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'
There are many aspects of Shylock; in Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of
Venice’ he is seen in many different forms. In Medieval Venice Shylock
the Jewish banker is persuaded to lend three thousand ducats to
Antonio a Venetian merchant who had cursed and ridiculed Shylock for
years. The condition for the loan is that if Antonio did not pay back
the three thousand ducats he would forfeit, ‘a pound of flesh, to by
him cut off nearest the merchant’s heart.’ Through the course of the
play Shylock is portrayed in many different ways. Shylock tends to fit
the villainous type: he has no wife, no friends and later on in the
play he loses his money and his daughter.
Shylock is continuously presented as the enemy. He comes between many
lovers: Bassanio and Portia, Jessica and Lorenzo and the friendship
between Antonio and Bassanio. The only love Shylock seems to have is
for money: ‘I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels
in her ear: would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats in her
coffin.’ Shylock shows lack of compassion and loyalty to his daughter.
Shylock shows immense intolerance for Christians and this increases
when his daughter runs away to marry Lorenzo a friend of Antonio’s.
This produces a motive, and provokes Shylock and makes him more set on
You can sympathise with shylock’s cruel temperament and unmerciful
nature, as he has been excluded from Christian society and mocked for
his religion. He is continuously scolded and ridiculed by the not so
perfect idealists, ‘hie thee, gentle Jew. The Hebrew will turn
Christian, he grows kind’. He seems in modern day terms an average
person, money seeking and focused on bringing people down, one would
think that Shylock is ideal for modern society and that he suited for
a co-operate company. Although in Venetian society he is recognised as
a Jew through the work he does. He seems quite successful in that he
has gained money through hard work and he is cunning in his approach
to the bond. His attitude towards it is one in which he will not be
humiliated, ‘to buy this favour, I extend this friendship. If he will
take it, so; if not adieu.’ Antonio then accepts Shylocks bond through
the intension of extending a false friendship.
The Christians are continuously represented as the ‘perfection’. When
the Christians cease to withhold this image and Shylock starts to over
power the Christians, they start to unravel and reveal themselves. The
audience sees Bassanio fall apart when he hears the news of Antonio:
‘I freely told you all the wealth I had ran through my veins: I was a
gentleman. And then I told you true, and yet dear lady, rating myself
at nothing, you shall see how much I have braggart.’ Bassanio here
confesses to Portia just...