Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice Essay, Is Shylock a Victim or Villain? Grade a

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In The Merchant of Venice how does Shakespeare present both Shylock as both victim and villain? Throughout the play, ‘The Merchant of Venice’, Shylock reveals many personalities; therefore making him such an emotionally complex and detailed character that shows elements of being both a victim and villain; and to come to my decision to whether Shylock is either of the two, other characters language towards him and his reactions will perceive different ideas from different era’s in time to determine my answer. The first time Shylock is introduced into the play is in Act 1 Scene 3 where Antonio is to lend Bassanio 3,000 ducats to allow him to meet his love, Portia, in Belmont. However Antonio’s money is tied up at sea; which is why…show more content…
He says: “and what’s his reason? I am a Jew”. Here Shakespeare has shown great sympathy for Shylock, and rightly so as in most respects he is correct, yet the Elizabethan audience never gave the Jew a chance. Reading the play its as if Jews are completely different to Christians, as if they are aliens. Here Shylock mentions this as he says: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? ...” . Shylock is basically saying that Jews are humans, not hell-born alienated humans. However Shakespeare has been very clever here; reading the play the first time you could say he has possibly made Shylock look the villain by making the bad points stand out, yet if you look deeper the play shows great sympathy towards the Jew. He has hidden the sympathy towards Shylock so it pleases the crowd. Bringing all this speech together it shows all of Shylock’s anger again, and he expresses this in a very powerful and emotive speech.

On the other hand I believe that Shylock can react wrongly, and is too adamant to get his revenge which I think is a harsh revenge. An example of Shylock acting a villain is when losing his daughter Jessica; who then runs off with Lancelet and eventually changing her religion to become a Christian. As parents should unconditionally love their children regardless of what they chose to do with their life; Jessica has committed the ultimate crime against Shylock, to change religion from being Jewish, and religion is
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