Shylock Essay

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Complex characters can be very difficult to relate to. Their split personalities can be very misleading and cause the reader to make inaccurate assumptions. One moment he or she could be a positive, innocent individual, and then they could suddenly reveal themselves as a devious, evil mastermind. William Shakespeare created several of these complex characters in literature over the years including Macbeth, Hamlet, and Romeo. In another one of Shakespeare’s plays, “Merchant of Venice”, the antagonist, Shylock, is often labeled as a complex character as well. He works as a Jewish moneylender in the predominantly Christian, Italy. During this time period, Shylock and his fellow Jews are treated as second-class citizens. In one of Shakespeare’s most powerful and memorable soliloquies, Shylock addresses Salerio and Solanio on what its like living openly as a Jew and all the injustice he has endured. Through Shylock’s diction he reveals personal traits such as logic, passion, cruelty, and a never-ending thirst for revenge, which all contribute to him being labeled a complex character. The diction in this soliloquy provides a perfect example of why Shylock’s character is commonly known as one of the most passionate characters in any Shakespearian play. In this case, Shylock shows his passion through pride for Jewish people and culture. Living in a place where his kind are not accepted, he shows he does not let others maltreatment affect his self-image. Shylock proudly states, “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” (3.1.55-57). It is very uncommon for a Jew to be so open about his religion during this time period. Shylock’s bold statement really says a lot about his true character and the pride he takes in being a Jew. Although, he lets his passion exceed its bounds a bit by going off at a tangent for revenge, in lines 55 through 57 he still show it is his way of showing he cares for his...
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