Was Shylock A Victim Or A Villain

Topics: Shylock, The Merchant of Venice, Portia Pages: 4 (1703 words) Published: August 16, 2001
The late sixteenth century play "˜The Merchant of Venice', one of Shakespeare's more popular comedies, is one that is portraying various peoples lives throughout Venice and Belmont. During the course of the play there is a concentration of thoughts and emotions towards the character Shylock, a Jewish usurer, this is the very character that we shall be concentrating the question in the title on. In most scenes the character Shylock has to deal with a lot of racial discrimination, which has at modern times become unacceptable to most people. Elizabethan society was largely anti-Semitic and as such the audience would have been unsympathetic towards his character. In addition to their anti-Semitic ways they also had a strong dislike of moneylenders, and the audience would have had a certain loathing for the character Shylock, which would no longer occur at present times. There are two very different opinions of Shylock that we will be discussing, victim or a villain. Both sides of Shylock's personality are portrayed throughout "˜The Merchant of Venice.' Many of the characters in the play look upon Shylock as a villain, but this indeed might just be a biased opinion because of the love that they have for a fellow friend, who's life has been put at stake due to a bond connecting the two. This then leads to the key question: is Shylock a mean spiteful moneylender with no intention of mercy or is he a victim to severe racial abuse, which in turn is a severe victimization.

Although there is a great amount of evidence from other characters accusing that Shylock is a villain there is a small amount that shows Shylock to be a perfect victim to severe racial abuse from most characters that are in the play, that even includes his daughter to some extent. The first impressions that we get of Shylock are important because they tend influence the audiences opinion of the character from the first few lines. For Shylock, unfortunately, his first line doesn't engender a very...
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