Robert F. Kennedy stated, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Shylock is the core of all ripples. He lashed out against the prejudice that was thrust upon him and is considered evil for doing so. The Merchant of Venice brought together different characters of different religions. Shakespeare used characters in this play to reflect sixteenth century views on Christianity and Judaism. The character Shylock wass used to embody the religious conflicts of the Elizabethan era. Throughout the play, Shylock’s character fluctuates on the fine line of villain and victim.
Shylock’s villainy began in the early stages of the play. In the first act, one aspect of Shylock's nature was clearly revealed. In act one scene three Shylock exclaims, “I hate him for he is a Christian;/ But more for that in low simplicity/ He lends out money gratis, and brings down/ The rate of usance here with us in Venice.” In this quote he complains that Antonio, by lending out money for free, brings down the interest rate at which he can lend money. Shylock's greed was especially apparent towards the beginning of the play, and statements like these help illustrate of what Shakespeare’s audience would recognize as the stereotypical Jew. Shylock’s tendency for unreasonable and selfish behavior was demonstrated once again in act one scene three when he states, “Be nominated for an equal pound/ Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken/ In what part of your body pleaseth me.” This quote shows the epitome of Shylock’s evilness. It can be assumed that Shylock intends to seize Antonio’s life from his addition of “In what part of your body pleaseth me.” The only true victory...
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