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The Merchant Of Venice Essay

1209 words - 5 pages

Comparison and Contrast of Shylock and Claudius
Introduction
This essay looks into the lives of Shylock and Antonio. These are two of Shakespearean antagonists of all time. They are alike in more ways than one. Shylock in Merchant of Venice is a Jewish moneylender based in Venice. He has been tormented and repressed mainly by the Christian population. One finds it easy to sympathize with him mainly because he has his own reasons to be loathing, greedy, and miserly. This ends up making the entire ‘Merchant of Venice’ bittersweet. This was when Shylock was forced to give up all that he owned and further converted it to Christianity. This meant that that Jewish community would no longer accept him. It also meant that he would be shunned by a Christianity community that would not see him as a true convert (Merchant of Venice 3).
Discussion
Antonio is a merchant of Venice. He is the play’s titular protagonist. He is close to forty years of age and lives his life to the fullest. He is also a successful businessman who owned a fleet of several trade ships. One surprising thing is that Antonio appears in few scenes in the play. He is the driving force behind several actions. Comparing him to Shylock portrays Antonio as a Christian defined by Elizabethan society. Character wise, he represents among several other things the ideal of friendship and nobility. He is also a kind and generous human being both to his friends and to the poor Venice. He however sometimes appears as a hopeless depressive and someone who cannot find the accurate reason for his melancholy. Throughout the entire play, Antonio devolves into someone who is unable to muster all the energy required for him to defend himself against being executed. He never names reasons for his melancholy. Evidence however seemed to point out that he was in love. This was despite his denial of being in love in Act I scene I. The object of affection as seen is Bassanio who goes ahead to take full advantage of this merchant’s feelings for him (Wright 45).
The main principles of Antonio do not support borrowing or lending money for profit. He purely reflects a medieval attitude for money that needs to be lent for Christian charity. When he lends to Bassanio, this made him to cast aside his principles and take a loan from Shylock. He then pledges his flesh as bond. When Antonio’s ships are lost at sea, this meant that he could not repay the loan and therefore he accepts to pay Shylock with a pound of his flesh (Shakespeare 61).
Shylock on the other point is a focal point of the entire play. There is a traditional stereotype of Jews found in the Elizabethan times. He is comically put out as a greedy minister who wears a traditional Jewish gabardine. As a middle-aged man, Shylock has a keenness of observation, a memory of several details as well as a strong energy amount. Unlike Antonio, he is portrayed as someone with a strong amount of energy who is well versed with the Bible. He often draws...

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