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Essay about How The Character Of Shylock From “The Merchant Of Venice” Is

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How The Character Of Shylock From “The Merchant Of Venice” Is
Presented To The Audience In Scenes 1.3, 3.1 and 4.1

Over the years, Shylock has been portrayed in many ways, for instance,
in the Elizabethan time, Jews were seen as the cause of Christ’s death
and were known moneylenders so they were persecuted, so Shylock
normally came on stage wearing a bright red wig and portrayed as a
comic villain due to this he was always mocked. However, after the
holocaust was brought to light, Jews were taken more seriously and
were treated with more respect than they were previously shown so when
Shylock appeared on stage, he was treated fairly and was not mocked as
he had been in previous versions of the play.

Shylock is one of the main characters in the play. He is a Jew who is
treated very badly by all Christians and wants revenge so when Antonio
goes to Shylock for money, Shylock tries to make a deal which would
give him the chance to kill Antonio the christian if the money is not
repayed. This shows Shylock to be the villain but as we go through
the play, we hear of how Shylock has been treated and we start to feel
sympathetic towards him as we hear how he has been a victim of racial
prejudice.

In act 1 scene 3, Shylock is first introduced as “Enter the Jew”. In
the first few lines of the play, we find out that Shylock is happy
because Antonio is to borrow three thousand ducats from Shylock for
his friend Bassanio to get married. We know that Shylock is happy
because he repeats that Antonio wants three thousand ducats for three
months and that he is bound to the contract. This makes Shylock seem
like a greedy man as he is excited at the prospect of gaining interest
from the money he is about to loan Antonio. The first thing he talks
about in the scene is his business and then he only talks about his
religion later, which shows that money is his main priority. We also
see Shylock as devious as he knows that the only way Antonio can pay
back the loan is if his ships that are selling goods abroad return and
Shylock talks about all the dangers for the boats. This shows him as
devious as we wonder why he is excited that the boats may sink.
Shylock is also seen as devious as he hides his true desire to trap
Antonio in a debt he may not be able to pay. Shylock highlights his
religious difference when he says “yes, to smell pork, ...


... middle of paper ...


...In Elizabethan times the prejudice shown to Shylock in the play would
be perfectly normal because Jews were banned in England since 1290 and
were seen as evil people. Nowadays we are shocked at the prejudice
because we are living after the holocaust when Hitler attempted to
wipe out the whole Jewish race and now everyone has a degree of
sympathy for Jews. The anti-Semitism shown in the play would be seen
as comedy in the Elizabethan period. Shakespeare's play was so
successful because Queen Elizabeth's doctor was executed for high
treason in 1954. He was a Jew. Shylock has been seen as both the
victim and the villain of the play. A victim because he loses all his
money and has to change his religion at the end of the trial scene.
Also he is the victim of lots of prejudice from the Christians like
them spitting on him and calling him names. But in conclusion I think
that ultimately Shylock is a villain. The way he treats those close to
him, for example his daughter Jessica exposes his evil character. He
lets his need for vengeance engulf all other aspects of his life and
his complete lack of mercy towards Antonio, renders him as a villain
in the eyes of the audience


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