Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1694 Words Jul 8th, 2018 7 Pages
Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Introduction

One of the most interesting and dramatic characters in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is the rich, despised money-lending Jew Shylock.

It is impossible to judge Shylock’s character by our own modern Standards, simple because Shakespeare wrote this play for play goers in Elizabethan times. This was very different to modern times for two reasons.

Firstly, people watching the play would not find it strange to feel sorry for a character, then a few moments later, to be screaming for their blood!

Secondly, nearly everyone in Shakespeare’s time was racist, and it was common for people to dislike Jews and think of them of
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Salerio also compares Jews and Shylock to the devil.

This comparison meant that Christians believed Jews to be the most evil of creatures, similar to the Devil.

Shakespeare uses these comparisons to bring jeers, screams for blood and cries for hate from the audience. Shylock clearly distinguished as a sort of devil by theses quotations, which were designed to make viewers despise and even fear him. Antonio and Bassanio are the heroes in the play, and therefore the crowed accepts Shylock as a villain when Antonio or Bassanio speak against him, because the enemy of a hero, is a villain.

The relationship between Shylock and Antonio is one of the most interesting aspects of the play. Shylock has a deep hate for Antonio for these main reasons. Firstly, Antonio is a Christian. Jews are hated and wronged by Christians, and have had to endure much suffering at the hand of Christians.

“He hates our sacred nation.” This is spoken by Shylock about Antonio.

Secondly, Antonio often mocks and criticises Shylock, and treats him little better than a mongrel. Shylock has been waiting patiently for his chance for revenge, and will not give up his bond, not even for ducats.

Thirdly, Antonio is very bad for Shylock’s business of money-lending because Antonio lends out money without
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