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The Merchant of Venice

By satmun Feb 17, 2011 795 Words
Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice"

Summary: In "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare, Shylock is always portrayed as the villain of the play. However, a study of his strengths and weaknesses reveals how hard it is to tell whether he is a villain or a victim.

'The Merchant of Venice' written by William Shakespeare is two stories; the flesh blond tale and the love caskets tale. An important character that portrays these two stories is Shylock, an arrogant Jewish merchant. Shylock is an old man who is wealthy by lending money and charging interest e.g. 3000 ducats with Antonio. Shylock has a deep hatred for Christians and he has many strengths and weaknesses. Shylock is sadly always portrayed as the villain of the play.

In 'The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare Shylock is always made known that he is the villain. This is because people stereotype him on his religion and what he acts like. Shylock is portrayed as the villain just because he is a Jew and holds grudges. We are first introduced to Shylock in Act One, Scene Three where we learn of his usury. In this scene we hear of his hatred for Antonio. "How like a fawning publican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian" (1, 3, 37-38). This statement shows that Shylock hates Antonio. Shylock hates him because he has different beliefs than him and he hates Christians because of past abuse. Shylock also shows signs of ferociousness in his refusal to forgive 3

the Christians. "If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him" (1, 3, 43). Everybody despises Shylock because he is devious and very cunning. He shows this when naïve Antonio accepts the bond of taking a pound of flesh if 3000 ducats is not paid in three months. Although Shylock performs evil he should be treated like everyone else, not like an animal such as in Act Four, Scene One.

In "The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare, Shylock has many strengths, even though he is pictured to be a cold hearted, selfish, revenge-seeking, parochial, unmerciful, stubborn, and naïve man. In fact, Shylock has more strengths than weaknesses but they are very hard to point out. People put him down just because he is a Jew - which equals prejudism. Shylock is an extremely successful business man by lending money and charging interest, such as in Act One, Scene Two with Antonio and Bassanio. Shylock is also very optimistic and is never hurt by what other people say or think of him. I suppose you could say he is naïve then. I mean, it is just a human flaw to want revenge so why should Shylock suffer the pain and teasing? Another strength that Shylock has is that he is very cunning. Some people believe this is a weakness; it is not because through this he earns money and starts friendships.

In "The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare, Shylock has many weaknesses, these are easier to point out because he has so many of them and they are very obvious. First of all, Shylock is a very cold hearted man, especially with his treatment of his daughter Jessica. 4

"Hear you me, Jessica lock up my doors: and when you hear the drum...Nor thrust your head into the public street...but stop my house's ears...Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter my sober house" (1, 5). This is when Shylock is telling Jessica to stay locked up inside and look after his house- therefore he is overprotective. Shylock is also very naïve, he doesn't realise the strange behaviour between Jessica and Lorenzo. This is showing that he isn't an attentive father. It also shows that he is greedy and wrapped up in his own little world because he is more preoccupied in his wealth than his daughter. Another weakness that Shylock carries is that he is very revenge-seeking. Especially when he hates Antonio because of past insultment and he is a Christian. He shows this when he lends money to Antonio with an unusual bond that he know will work because Antonio's wealth is at sea. Shylock is also very materialistic and thinks money buys happiness/life.

In 'The Merchant of Venice' by William Shakespeare, Shylock is the most noteworthy figure and it is hard to tell whether he is a victim or a villain. He is portrayed as a greedy, naïve, and cold hearted man. But people don't see that, on the inside he is a good person, instead they just stereotype him on his religion and personal traits. I guess his greediness overpowers his personality.

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