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Merchant of Venice - Shylock: Villain or Victim

Uploaded by Scott_Ingram on Sep 19, 2006

In the play Merchant of Venice, there is always a lot of controversy about whether Shylock is a victim or a villain. The definition of victim is a person who dies or suffers as a result of voluntarily undertaking some enterprise or pursuit. Meaning someone who dies or suffers as a result of his or her own actions is still a victim. In accordance with the definition, in my opinion Shylock is a victim.



When we first start to read the play, as a Jew Shylock is put at a huge disadvantage. 400 years ago when Shakespeare wrote the play, racism was commonplace. Shylock was written to be hated! As a result the audience and characters were prejudice towards Shylock as he tells us in Act 1 Scene 3

“Signor Antonio, many a time….….…thus much moneys’?”

You could say he was a victim of society’s discrimination and bigotry. He was indeed a victim as he was looked down on and had to under go hardships put on him by the community.



Antonio was one those citizens in the community who tormented Shylock. Antonio constantly insulting Shylock as shown in Act 1 Scene 3

“I am as like to call thee so again….….…Exact the penalty”

Shylock simply replies saying he would have Antonio’s friendship and forgive him for what he has done

“Why look you….….…This is kind I offer”

But Antonio still rejects Shylock for he is a Jew, but never the less Shylock is still willing to lend the money. If Shylock was truly a bad person he would have not even listened to the proposal of Bassanio and Antonio and would have wanted nothing to do with them, but as we can see from the above quotes, Shylock is actually a good person and is willing to forget and forgive Antonio for how he has mistreated him.



Not only does he suffer abuse from the local community and society as a whole, his own daughter Jessica steals from him before running away with her lover Lorenzo, a Christian and good friend of Antonio. Jessica not only stole ducats she also took the ring he received from his now departed wife Leah. He has lost his only daughter to a Christian and he has lost the ring in which he kept in remembrance of his deceased wife. This has put him through even more pain as we can tell by how he describes his agony and sorrow in...

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Uploaded by:   Scott_Ingram

Date:   09/19/2006

Category:   Shakespeare

Length:   4 pages (838 words)

Views:   9158

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