Merchant of Venice


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Merchant of Venice

In this coursework I will be answering the question “Shylock gets what
he deserves” by taking into account how William Shakespeare makes the
audience despise of Shylock or sympathise Shylock.

Shylock is a Jew, and he is not welcome in Venice, he has especially
got hatred for Antonio. He wanted revenge so Shylock put on a bond
with Antonio; the punishment being for Antonio is that if he doesn’t
pay back the money, which Shylock lent him, in 3 months time Shylock
has the right to cut off a pound of his flesh.

The ridicule and mistreatment that Shylock gets makes the audience
sympathise with him because he can’t do anything about it. Shakespeare
has made the audience sympathise with Shylock by making the Christians
such as Antonio call him a “dog” and refer to him as a “Jew” giving
the audience a sense that Shylock didn’t get what he deserves from the
courtroom scene. This would only apply to modern audiences though,
when Shakespeare wrote his plays Jews were hated by the people that
lived then and therefore didn’t have the same opinion as modern day
audiences would.

The running away of Shylock’s daughter (with some of his wealth as
well) makes the audience sympathise with him because by doing this
Shakespeare makes the audience think that everyone is turning on
Shylock and he is lonely. By including lines like “my own flesh and
blood to rebel” and “I say my daughter is my own flesh and blood”
Shakespeare shows the audience how much he loved his daughter and how
much he wants her back, this also makes the audience sympathise with
him and it gives them a sense of injustice that he didn’t get what he
disserved from the courtroom scene.

The fact that Antonio has stolen Shylock’s customer’s by producing
unfair competition. That makes the audience sympathise with Shylock
because what Antonio was doing was unfair and cruel. By including
lines like “I am as like to call thee so again” and “I spit on thee

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again”. Shakespeare is showing the audience that Antonio has no
respect for Shylock and it gives the audience a sense that Shylock
doesn’t get what he disserves from the courtroom scene. Again this
only applies to modern audiences because in the days Shakespeare wrote
hid poems Jews were hated by people that lived then and therefore
didn’t have the same opinion as modern day people who have different
views.

The fact that the law, unfairly, is put across Shylock makes the
audience sympathise with Shylock because the court judged him by his
religion and not the law. In the end Shylock has to convert to
Christianity or face death, which also makes the audience sympathise
with Shylock because it is unfair and undermines the law. Shakespeare
uses the line “A Daniel come to judgement” to show how much Shylock
thinks that the court is unfair, this also gives the audience a sense
that the court used the bond to force this on Shylock, and that
Shylock didn’t get what he disserved from the courtroom scene.

The fact that Shylock chooses death rather than money makes the
audience despise Shylock because he is trying to kill a Christian and
it shows he is bloodthirsty and takes the bond to far. When
Shakespeare uses the line “If every ducat in six thousand ducats were
in six parts I would still not draw them” it makes the audience think
that he gets what he disserved from the court scene because of his
desperate attempt to kill because of someone that is innocent in their
eyes, a Christian. He is innocent in their eyes because in
Shakespeare’s days people hated Jews and had a bad opinion of them,
which adds to the despised opinion.

The fact that Shylock shows no mercy during the courtroom scene makes
the audience despise him because it shows that he wont forgive Antonio
and make things right. When Shakespeare includes the lines “the flesh
nearest his heart” and “wherever pleases me” to make Shylock sound
like he wanted revenge by killing. This would give the audience a
sense that he gets what he disserves in the courtroom scene.

The fact that Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, was imprisoned in her
father’s house makes the audience despise Shylock because by
Shakespeare doing this the audience would think that he isn’t allowing
his daughter to do what she wanted and is allowing her no freedom at
all. Shakespeare includes the line “She is my flesh and blood” which
makes the audience think that he is dependent on her and doesn’t want
her to disturb him. It is no real surprise that she ran away. This
gives the audience a sense that he does get what he disserves in the
courtroom scene.

The fact that he cared more about the money and jewellery makes the
audience despise of Shylock because they will think that he doesn’t
care about his daughter running away, he just cares about the money
which she ran off with! By this the audience will think that he is
uncaring and greedy, also selfish. Shakespeare includes the line “She
is damned for it” to make Shylock sound like he wants revenge on his
daughter now. This gives the audience a sense that he gets what he
disserves in the courtroom scene.

The way that the audience (modern or Old (Tudors)) interprets the
things that happen in the play plays major part in how the audience
judges Shylock because of the evolution from Shakespeare to modern
day. Nowadays people don’t have hatred for Jews because of the
evolution of the religion all over the world, but then people didn’t
understand religion and interpreted it wrongly, which was an unfair
disadvantage for Jews, individually and generally.


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