Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock in the Merchant of Venice

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Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock in the Merchant of Venice

In the Merchant of Venice, Shylock is continually involved in the bond plot. This plot is probably the most intense story-line in this Shakespeare play. Bassanio borrows money from Shylock in Antonio's name in order to impress Portia, however after a tragic incident involving all of Antonio's ships crashing; the money has failed to be returned. According to their bargain Antonio must now give Shylock a pound of his flesh. Shakespeare uses Shylock is this play in order to provoke feelings of sympathy but also of hatred towards the villain in this play- the Jew.

However you can't help but feel compassion for his situation as he is
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When Shylock accuses Antonio of spurning him, Antonio replies with 'call thee so again' and 'spit on thee again'. This, is my opinion, justifies the revengeful side of Shylock. Shylock talks down the forfeit of a pound of flesh but Shylock really wants to profit from Antonio's death, as he will be able to charge higher interest rates when Antonio can no longer undercut him. By the end of this scene we find Shylock bitter, greedy and also intelligent, however his eloquent description of Antonio's abusive language and behaviour redresses the balance a little in his favour.

His daughter's elopement with a Christian and the theft of his money and jewels also give us pause for thought about our attitude towards him (Act 2 Scene 5). Shylock leaves the house he gives Jessica the responsibility of being in charge of the house. He strictly instructs her to keep the house and goods secure. This is quite ironic as whilst he is gone, she takes his wealth and disguises herself in order to elope with Lorenzo. This isn't surprising as in Act 2 Scene 3, Jessica talk about how unhappy she is living with her father. Jessica is ashamed of Shylock, which congregates feelings of compassion for him because of the fact that she is ashamed of him. However, the comic way in which he is displayed as reacting to this event and his cry of
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