Merchant of Venice Shylock Analysis Essay

1044 Words Oct 30th, 2011 5 Pages
Robert F. Kennedy stated, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Shylock is the core of all ripples. He lashed out against the prejudice that was thrust upon him and is considered evil for doing so. The Merchant of Venice brought together different characters of different religions. Shakespeare used characters in this play to reflect sixteenth century views on Christianity and Judaism. The character Shylock wass …show more content…
This duality of Shylock being portrayed with positive points as well as bad was developed further at the end of act 1. Early on in the play Antonio described Shylock as the Devil and stated, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose” (Act1 scene 3 line 107). The 'devil' is described in the dictionary as, the supreme spirit of evil and nowhere in the text or in Shylock's actions does it suggest this. Clear resentment and tension was shared between Shylock and Antonio. In one of Shylock's monologues he explained, “I hate him for he is a Christian” (Act 1 scene3 line 42). A contemporary audience during Shakespeare's time would have been deeply offended at this attempt to degrade a Christian and this would have easily made Shylock evil in their eyes. Due to Shylock's lower status in this scene he spoke in prose, whereas Antonio spoke in verse. This showed the difference in position between the two characters and the wide gap linking Judaism and Christianity. Respect for Shylock may be less easily attained when he doesn't offer any to Antonio. When the bond was made between Antonio and Shylock it is easy to see how Shylock’s character can be considered the devil as he binds Antonio to contract, “An equal pound/ of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken” (Act 1 scene 3 line 161). Requesting a pound of flesh was possibly a little too extravagant; it suggested that he was capable of and willing to take a life. Making Shylock more a butcher of animals than of
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