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merchant of venice essay

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Is shylock portrayed as the villain or the victim in the play?
The play ‘Merchant of Venice’ is about a man called Bassanio who needs another loan of his good friend Antonio. He guarantees a loan of the Jew, Shylock. Shylock is both the villain and the victim in this play. He is the villain when he sees the opportunity to take revenge on Antonio for the way he has treated him and makes a bond to take a pound of his flesh. His anger is fuelled even more when his daughter runs away and steals his money to go marry a Christian. In the end Shylock is the victim, he loses his money and is made to become a Christian by the Court.
Shylock becomes a villain when Antonio comes to him for a money loan and Shylock makes the bond a pound of flesh. This means if he does not pay the sum plus interest in three months shylock can take a pound of flesh. “An equal pound of your flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me.” Page 20 Shylock wants to take Antonio’s life for all the times Antonio mocks him, spits on him and torments him every time he sees him. This decision to make the bond a pound of flesh makes Shylock even more enemies and hated by Antonio’s friends.
Shylock and the Jewish people have always been made out to be the enemies, but really they are the victims. Shylock is tormented and treated with no respect every time he steps out of his walls, by Christians and especially Antonio “you call me cutthroat dog, and spit upon my Jewish gabardine.” Pg. 19 “and what’s his reason? I’m a Jew” pg. 49 Shylock makes his money by lending out money and makes them pay interest on the money. He is ridiculed by the Christians for doing this even though many of them loan money of him.
Jessica, the daughter of Shylock is in love with a Christian Lorenzo, Shylock is tricked into going to a ball by the Christians and his daughter steals his money and some of his possessions. Shylock is left angry and sad that he lost his daughter but most of all that he lost some of his wealth. He knows that Antonio’s friends had something to do with it “you knew none so well, none so well as you, of my daughter.”pg. 48 the loss of his daughter to a Christian only fuels his anger towards killing Antonio “And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?” pg. 49
The final blow to Shylocks pride and his wealth is the loss of his money to Antonio and having to become a Christian. Shylock is about to have his revenge on Antonio when Portia stops him on a techniquality meaning Shylock can only take a “pound of flesh” but no blood. “If thou dost shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods are by the laws of Venice confiscate” pg. 83 Shylock is put in the mercy of Antonio and he delivers Shylocks fate. He has to give half his things to Jessica and the other half goes to her when she dies. He then shoots the last bullet to destroy Shylock completely, “that for his favour he presently become a Christian.” Pg. 86
Shylock likes most Jews is made to sound evil and a villain, but really he is a man who tries to take revenge on a person who was robbed his business deals, tormented him in the streets, spat on his face and turned his friends against him. Shylock is the victim in this play and has been robbed of his life.

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