Sympathize with Shylock

Topics: The Merchant of Venice, Portia, Shylock Pages: 4 (1014 words) Published: October 10, 2009
Do you sympathise for Shylock? - Give reasons for your answer

Should Shylock be shown pity or did he deserve how he was treated? Ever since Shylock was shown as a character by William Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice there have been many interpretations about him all throughout history. Some of these opinions are of the time are biased. Even different groups of people throughout the centuries have a different point of view about this man.

In the 19th century (Elizabethan times) Shylock had been portrayed by Shakespeare an outcast, both as a villain and a clown. This was believable to his audience because at the time Jews were persecuted as a lower class in society and isolated. They would of have a much simpler view that Christians were always more intelligent. There were not really any Jews living in England at this time. However, society has changed throughout the centuries, where different religions, race, etc., are no longer discriminated against, and Shylock in the modern day world may be seen as a victim.

Set in Venice, the most important trading centre in the world in Shakespeare’s time. The Jews were segregated from living alongside the Christians and under curfew for their movements at night. They were easily identified by the different clothes they wore. Many were moneylenders who charged interest for the privilege; this was considered to be a sin by Christians, who despised them for it.

Shylock, a devout Jew and moneylender, had always received ill-treatment from Christians. He appears to the audience in Act 1 Scene 3 when Bassanio and Antonio ask for the loan of 3,000 ducats. Firstly, we learn of his hatred for Christians and that of Antonio.

"I hate him for he is a Christian; / But more, for that in low simplicity / He lends out money gratis." (Act 1, Scene iii)

Shylock has the upper hand and is in control. The deviousness and slyness of his character is shown, the money is given through friendship, a bond but with...
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