Shylock, a Victim of Himself in "The Merchant of Venice"

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In Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice, the character of Shylock proves, ultimately, to be a victim of himself. Shylock brings about his own demise through his own deeds and misdeeds. Shylock begins to cause his own misfortune when Antonio approaches him for a loan to aid Bassanio in courting Portia. At first, Shylock is wary to lend Antonio the money. "I am debating of my present store...I cannot instantly raise up the gross of full three thousand ducats...Tubal...will furnish me (13)". Shylock realizes that he does not have the money on hand to lend to Antonio, and instead of turning Antonio down for the loan, he plans to borrow the money from another. Shylock is so intent upon binding Antonio, that when he himself cannot fulfill the request, he risks his own reputation simply for revenge against Antonio. He insists upon having a consequence if Antonio cannot repay the debt. "...let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me" (16). Shylock is so eager for this opportunity that he doesn't think about the specifics of the bond between he and Antonio.

Another detail that Shylock overlooks is Antonio's good reputation and trustworthiness. He panics when he realizes there is a more than likely chance that Antonio's ships will come within the allotted time of three months. In order to secure his victory, he decides to plant rumors among the local gossips of Venice.

The first rumor is of a destroyed vessel by the French and English. " the narrow seas that part, the French and English there miscarried a vessel of our country richly fraught" (38). The second rumor is of another destroyed ship carrying wealth. "...Antonio hath a ship of rich lading wracked on the narrow seas...a very dangerous flat and fatal" (43). Not only is Antonio rumored to have two destroyed ships at sea, but also they both seem to have been wrecked in the same place. The English Channel is...
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