Shylock: The Victim of Merchant of Venice
Uploaded by Grand_Pooba on Dec 03, 2007
Shylock: Victim or Villain?
I believe that Shylock is a Victim of what I feel are the tragic events and unfairness that has befallen him in this play, The Merchant of Venice.
My first point is that Shylock was probably portrayed as a villain when this play was first written by Shakespeare between the years 1596 and 1598. We must keep in mind his audience usually had anti-Semitic views so their way of interpreting Shylock as a villain is based entirely upon the culture that they were brought up in. However I feel Shakespeare was a writer ahead of his time who wrote not only for the general public but for much more philosophical minds. These are in my views the definitive points of Shakespeare’s distinctive writing style – the interpretation the reader has is usually different, writing not only for the general audience but for great minds and of course being a writer ahead of his time I feel he knew we would interpret it differently to the audience in his time of living which is what interests me. Many great minds use Shakespeare’s works to refer as ‘proof’ of their theories, a good example is the psychologist Sigmund Freud who often referred to Hamlet in his explanation of the oedipal complex. I strongly feel Shakespeare was attempting to subtly show the unfairness and anti-Semitic views of people in his time.
A famous part of the play where Shylock delivers his speech ‘Hath not a Jew Eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions…’ ; asked rhetorically it emphasises that Jews are just as human as Christians and that when they have been abused their lust for revenge is no different to a Christian’s lust for revenge when he has been wronged. Yes it’s true if he wasn’t Jewish this story might have been very different but another way to look at this is that if Antonio, Bassanio and their party did not have such a strong fascist view on Shylock. Shylock could have easily been part of the community and would not have been the ‘villain’ he is portrayed as at points if he was just treated like a human being and not like an outcast of society.
It is proved repeatedly that Antonio and has no remorse for his scornful actions against Shylock. In a certain two lines during the trial it listed:
Shylock: You called me dog.
Antonio: And I...