Uncompleted- the Merchant of Venice Text Response Essay

Topics: The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, Portia Pages: 9 (3954 words) Published: September 21, 2011
In the play ‘The Merchant of Venice’, there are several characters who behave in villainous ways but Shylock is the most villainous character out of all of them. Do you agree? Throughout ‘The Merchant of Venice’ there are many examples of villainous acts performed by the characters. Although the character of Shylock may perhaps stand out in the mind of the reader, these acts are not solely limited to him individually. shylock cannot be considered the only villain in the play, for he shoulders much undeserved ridicule for his religion Shylock cannot be considered the most villainous character in this play, for he shoulders much undeserved ridicule for his religion. Nearly every character in Shakespeare’s famous play behaves in malevolent or unjust ways at one point in the story, whether it is predominantly as selfishness, cruelty, or vindictiveness. But does this pronounce them villains? Whilst Shylock is portrayed as a villain in more than one aspect, does this not warrant that Portia, being unjustly biased and unlawful, also be given the title of villain? Should not Shylock’s daughter Jessica be labelled a villain for her deceptive and larcenist actions and Antonio for his bigotry and obstinacy? And what of Bassanio; does he not selfishly and irresponsibly borrow money from Antonio, unable to afford to repay him, in order to further his personal wants? Each of these characters exhibits wanton villainous behaviour, with some performing more acts than others. They execute deceptive and vengeful acts in different forms, with most also being prejudiced in one way or another. Shylock could well be the ‘supposed’ villain of Shakespeare’s play, for he is Antonio’s enemy, and Antonio, being quite obviously the plays most prominent and most famous character, is quite possibly made out to be the main character of the play, rather than Bassanio, or even Shylock himself. The title page of the first quarto of ‘The Merchant of Venice’; ‘the moſt excellent Hiſtorie of the Merchant of Venice. VVith the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Iewe towards the ſayd Merchant, in cutting a iuſt pound of his fleſh: and the obtayning of Portia by the choyſe of three cheſts’ appears to state that the Jew, Shylock, performs deeds of cruelty unbefitting to Antonio, who appears to be the ‘Merchant of Venice’. But, although this seems to dub Shylock as the villain, perhaps delving deeper into the deceptions of the other characters may help us to determine if this is truly the case, or if instead this is just how Shylock was portrayed by Shakespeare and is acting in response to others and their misdeeds. Shakespeare’s famous play ‘The Merchant of Venice’ embodies many characters that perform acts of deception. Whilst Shylock comes across as an important villainous character due to his repeatedly taking advantage of people in vulnerable economic situations and making a handsome living in this way, he is also presented as a villain simply because Antonio, the character the play is primely based around, is a Christian, therefore Shylock, being a Jew and nemesis to him, is labelled a villain right from the early pages. But this does not seem to be a fair earning of the title ‘villain’ on Shylock’s part. Shylock himself does not outwardly present the amount of deception as other characters. For example Portia; ‘When we are both accoutred like young men, I’ll prove the prettier of the two, and wear my dagger with the braver grace, and speak between the change of man and boy with a reed voice, and turn two mincing steps into a manly stride, and speak of frays like a fine bragging youth’ (Act 3, Scene 4, Lines 63-69). This quote shows us that Portia persuades her maid Nerissa to help her deceive an entire courtroom of persons, in order to save her husband’s dearest friend Antonio. While her dressing up as a male doctor of the law and deceiving the court ‘that they shall think we are accomplished’ (Act 3, Scene 4, Line 61) in order to save another’s life may be...
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