The portrayal of Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice"

This play is set in the city of Venice about the year 1596. Venice was the main trade center in all of Europe. They traded all sorts of cargo, like human cargo (slaves.), silks and spices. The law of Venice was extremely strict and if anyone disobeys the law they would be in deep trouble. Venice is full of mixed people, wealthy people, poor people, kind people, loyal people and unloyal people. Venice’s main religion is Christianity. The main Christian in this story is Antonio.

Antonio is a merchant who loans people money without charging interest.

Venice has also got Jews (or the Hebrews). The Jews came from a place called Israel. The powerful Romans ruled Israel. At first the Jews were allowed their religion but then the Romans tried to crush it. The main Jew in this story is a man called Shylock. Shylock also loans money but has to charge interest.

Shylock – A villain who deservers his fate?

Shylock has a deep obsession with money.

Shylock cares more about money than anything else in the world even more than his daughter. When his daughter ran away with a Christian it made him intensively mad. But what was more shocking to him was that she took lots of his money and his wife’s precious turquoise. The turquoise is a valuable ring that he cared about a lot. When Shylock found out that his daughter had ran away he had very mixed feelings. This was because at the same time he found out another one of his archenemy’s (Antonio.

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) ships had gone down. But then he said, “I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewel in her ear”. These two lines tells us and the audience how low he would sink for money.

Shylock also hates the rich and the tremendously famous Antonio. The main reason he hates him is because Antonio will not charge interest on his loans, ” He lend out money gratis”. He hates Antonio for doing this because it ” brings down rate of unsance here with us in Venice”. This means that Shylock has to charge very little interest so he can stay in business, this hurts Shylocks pocket. Shylock tells the audience his true feelings about Antonio. He says ” I hate for he is a Christian”. When this speech is being said Shakespeare’s audience would have flipped in anger. The audience might have thrown stuff and definitely ” booed “. But if this play was show now-a-days the audience would still be angry but not as much as Shakespeare’s time.

At times Shylock can be really mean and harsh. Like when he was asked to come and eat with the Christians he didn’t take it at all nicely, he said “I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you and so following; But I will not eat with you, drink with you nor pray with you “. I think this speech Shylock just said was totally unnecessary but after the way he has been treated its completely understandable. When he was about to leave to go to dinner he told Jessica not to look at what was happing at the dinner and ” lock up my door “. He even said not to look at any Christians, ” nor thrust your head into public street, To gaze on a Christian fools with varnished

faces “. All these thing he says to Jessica is more bitterness towards to Christians. There

Shylock is also not nice to his Christian servant Lancelot. He treats him like he has no self respect and only rarely dose he call him buy his real name he normally calls him ” fool “. And Shylock said to Lancelot that he wasn’t allowed to speak unless he said so, ” Who bids thee call? I did not bid thee call.” I think and so would the audience that no matter how much you hate someone they at least should have the right to speak whenever they like.

I don’t actually think that Jessica really loves her father Shylock, because if she did she wouldn’t have ran away from her father. And the thing is that she didn’t just ran away with anyone she ran away with the kind of people that Shylock hates most, a Christian. She didn’t even tell her father the truth and stuck up for the servant instead. When Shylock asked what Lancelot said to Jessica, Jessica replied, ” His words were farewell, mistress, nothing else “. But what Lancelot had really said was, ” Mistress, look out at window for all this: There will come a Christian by will be wroth a Jew�s eye “. This is one of many speeches that the audience knows what is really happening and the actors don’t.

Shylock can also be a tremendously cunning and sly man. For example when the merchant Antonio came to ask Shylock for the 3,000 ducats Shylock at first wasn’t sure. But then his brain clicked in and he found a cunning idea that will enable him to get his revenge that he has been waiting so long. He had tricked Antonio into signing the most dreadful bond in the entire world. If shylock didn’t have his money back he would take 1lb ” Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken “. At a point like this the audience would be shocked at how a man like this came be so evil. He tricked Antonio into the bond be saying that he was being ” kind ” and that he was showing ” kindness “.

Shylock made Antonio think that paying a 1lb of his flesh is better than paying extra interest. He also made him think that there was no way that he couldn’t afford to pay him back so there was no way that he would have to give a 1lb of his flesh. This is another one of Shakespeare’s amazing parts were the audience knows the truth about Shylocks true feelings and Antonio and Bassanio have no idea what’s going on. This brings a sense of excitement to the audience, which would stop them from falling asleep, and would stop them from walking out of the place were the play is being shown.

Shylock at times is a very cruel and vindictive man. Like when he hears the awful news that all of Antonio’s ships have gone down and that he would be able to have his 1lb of flesh, he was delighted. But then at the same time he had got some bad news. He found out that his daughter had ran away with a Christian and she had taken most of his money. But as soon as he heard the bad news he forgot about and started talking about how his bond came true. But soon it all got to his head and he became obsessive with how he is going to kill the Christian he hates most Antonio.

When he gets to the court he comes prepared for everything. And he amazed the whole courtroom by bringing his own pair on scales and his own knife. This proved to everyone in the audience what a disgusting and evil man he really was. And to top of his evil ways, while the court case was in action Shylock was sitting on the floor sharpening his knife on his leather shoe.

All pleads of mercy towards Shylock were turned down. Even after Portia’s humungous speech about mercy he still said no. In the speech she basically said that mercy is a blessing form god and if you show mercy you will receive mercy. ” It is an attribute to god himself “. But Shylock still wanted to go through with the dreadful bond.

When Portia (Balthazar) asked Shylock if they could at least ” Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge, To stop his wounds, lest he do bleed to death “. But Shylock was on a roll being so cruel and mean; all he said was ” Is it so nominated in the bond? “. This answer that Shylock just gave is a big time villain answer.

Bassanio offered money to Shylock to spare Antonio’s life but Shylock refused all the money that was offered and said ” If every ducat in six thousand Were in six parts, and every part a ducat, I would not draw them; I would have my bond “.

Then even Antonio gave up arguing with Shylock about sparing his life. He said it was like telling the tides not to rise and not to fall. ” You may as well go stand upon the beach And bid the main flood bate his usual height “.

Shylock is quite often not a very nice man. He hates every Christian that he comes across and even the ones that he doesn’t know. Shylock is so heartless, vicious, nasty and cruel that he would go ahead and kill a man while he still alive, just because he comes from a different religion.

Shylock – a villain who deserves his fate?

Shylock is treated terribly by the Christians is especially by the evil merchant Antonio. Antonio dished out lots of verbal abuse but he still went to Shylock, and asked for money. Antonio had called Shylock ” misbeliever, cut-throat dog “. Antonio didn’t just use verbal abuse he also did disgusting things like, ” spit upon my Jewish gaberdine “. Antonio had also mocked Shylock when he was doing bad and when he was succeeding in life and work, ” laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains “. Another reason why the Christians hated Shylock is because he is a Jew. In the time when this play was set all the Christians hated Jewish people, and Jewish people hated Christians. In Shakespeare’s time the audience would have also hated shylock and would have agreed with all the insults the Antonio and his friends gave to Shylock. But the audience of the 21-century would have a totally different point of view.

The insults that were most used against Shylock were,

” dog ” and ” devil “. These words were used in the play to make the audience think the Shylock is an evil man and that he shouldn’t be liked or trusted. All the abuse that’s Shylock took made him madder and madder making him hate the Christians. He hated them so much that he wouldn’t even let his daughter look at them. ” To gaze on Christians fools with varnished

faces “. When Antonio came to ask for the money Shylock first wasn’t sure but then he found out that he could use it as a way of revenge. He said that if the money was not paid back ” pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken “. And this made Shylock turn into a mental man. When the court case had started everything had gone to shylocks head and he turned into a totally different man. And his desire for revenge became unnatural.

Shylock is never shown mercy. At the court case Shylock was asked repeatively to show mercy. ” Then must the Jew be merciful “. Portia also asked that if you be merciful then people shall be merciful to you. She also said that mercy is a blessing from God. ” It is an attribute to God himself, And earthly powers doth then show likest God “. But when it was Shylock in trouble nobody showed even the slightest bit of mercy. It was even worse when first he was able to keep half of his wealth, which is quite merciful, but then the Christian Antonio blew the mercy thing by making Shylock turn into a Christian. ” He presently become a Christian “. By saying this it canceled out any mercy that they might have shown. Turning Shylock into a Christian is the worst thing you can do and is defiantly not merciful. Shylock now has to turn against everything he believes and against everything he’s taught.

Especially Portia treated shylock terribly at the end of the court case. She the one saying to be merciful but then she turned into an evil monster. She had taken all his pride and said

” down, therefore, and beg mercy at the duke “. Everything was taken away form Shylock and there was no way he could have been treated any worse then they did that day.

My personal views.

When I got asked the question is Shylock a victim or villain I thought that he is mainly a victim. He was a victim throughout over 2/3 of this play and he wasn’t a villain a lot.

When we first started reading the play I felt extremely sorry for Shylock. The Christian Antonio and his friend always took

the mick and called him ” dog “. When Antonio asked Shylock for 3,000 ducats, Shylock said to him ” Fair sir, you spat on me Wednesday last, You spurned me such a day, another time You called me dog: and for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much monies “. I think that this speech is excellent I love the way that he put he words, which makes it down to the point while being sarcastic. What he says is, you called me dog, spat on me and for this I shall lend you money. Antonio had also called him ” misbeliever, cut-throat dog “. When I first heard this speech I felt like killing Antonio, from all the info we had so far I got the impression that Shylock is capable of every day life until the evil Antonio suddenly pops up and ruins everything.

I think that the punishment that was given to Shylock is way to harsh. The punishment is that half is wealth shall go to the city of Venice and the other half shall be his until he dies when it shall go to Jessica. But even worse is that Shylock has to become a Christian. I think that turning Shylock into a Christian is the most horrific thing you can do. Shylock will have to go Church, eat with Christian people and change his whole way of Jewish life. In the early scenes he told us how much he hated Christians and that he would never dine with Christians as long as he lived. So turning him into a Christian is making him turn against everything and everyone he ever loved and believed in.

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The portrayal of Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice". (2017, Oct 26). Retrieved from

The portrayal of Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice"
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