Merchant of Venice: Is Shylock a Victim or Villian?

Topics: The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, Portia Pages: 4 (1824 words) Published: August 25, 2010
Merchant of Venice Essay

I have been studying the play The Merchant of Venice written by William Shakespeare. The play genre is drama and it is set in the late 1590s. It is set in two cities Venice and Belmont. The play is about usury between a Christian and a Jew. The Christian is a man named Antonio, who is The Merchant of Venice. The Jew is a wealthy man called Shylock who is facing a lot of religious rivalry at the time. Antonio’s friend Bassanio comes to him to ask for money. Antonio agrees, but now has to borrow money himself, as all his money is invested in his ships and trade. Bassanio wants the money so that he can sail to Belmont to his love Portia, a rich and beautiful heiress, and ask for her hand in marriage. Shylock and Antonio are already enemies, but Shylock agrees to lend 3000 ducats on Antonio’s bond. Shylock then offers a ‘fake’ bond, being a pound of Antonio’s flesh if the loan wasn’t repaid in 3months. Antonio agrees to this despite Bassanio’s wishes. This essay will look at whether shylock is a villain or a victim. A reason to argue that shylock is a villain is when he hears news of one of Antonio’s ships crash on the rocks. Shylock almost celebrates. Here shylock is illustrated as cheerful that Antonio will lose money, Shylock now has the feeling he will win the bond. He starts to make plans for Antonio’s forfeiture. “I am very glad of it, I’ll plague him, I’ll torture him. I am glad of it.”(Act3, Scene1) When Shylock is speaking here his dark side is revealed. He shows he is jubilant that his bond taking place nicely and Antonio, a Christian, will go into ruin. Shakespeare is trying to highlight Shylock’s hate for Antonio and how anxious he is to get ‘his’ pound of flesh. A second reason to think that Shylock is a villain is in Act4 Scene1. Shylock makes it clear that he no longer wants repayment of Bassanio's debt of 3000 ducats or Bassanio’s offer of 6000 ducats. He would prefer his pound of flesh from Antonio instead,...
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