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The role of Shylock in "the Merchant of Venice."

Uploaded by teacup_1 on May 08, 2004

Shakespeare’s portrayal of Shylock in “the Merchant of Venice” is more complex than is originally thought. He is not only seen by the audience as the traditional stock villain; “I hate him-p13,” but he also evokes the audience’s empathy such as in his famous speech: “hath not a Jew eyes? -p47.”
Shylock is caricature to fit the profile of a typically villainous character in the eyes of an Elizabethan audience; his career in usury, his Jewish religion, and his attitude towards money and the Christians for instance, are all traditional stereotypes of a villain. Shylock’s introduction to the audience in Act1 Scene3 is typically miserly and sinister; “three thousand ducats, well,” and in his soliloquy on p13 “I hate him…” this conjecture is confirmed, when he reveals his true feelings over his Christian associates. The audience is therefore deeply suspicious when Shylock proposes a bond out of “kindness” in which he asks for a pound of flesh if the money is not repaid by three months. Although Antonio is convinced of the Jews sincerity, the audience is constantly reminded of the suspect circumstances by Bassanio, and remains sceptical; “I like not fair terms in a villains mind.”
When Antonio’s misfortune is heard of by the Jew, he openly expresses his contentment; “Good news, good news!” and the audience feels contempt for him as a result. Shylock later has Antonio arrested and the continual repetition of “the bond” constantly reminds us of Shylock’s trickery in Act1 Scene3. In the following act, Shylock demands his pound of flesh and takes the matter to court. His intentions are seemingly more brutal when compared to Portia’s sentimental pleas for “the quality of mercy.” As Shylock rejects every opportunity to withdraw and show mercy, the audience begin to despise him even more, and all previous sympathy is lost, especially when he refuses the presence of a doctor; “’tis not in the bond.” We are therefore lead to believe that Shylock is justly punished, when he is caught out by Portia; “thee here no jot of blood,” and sentenced by the Duke to convert to Christianity and to leave his possessions to his daughter and son in law.
Despite this, the audience does feel sorry for him to some extend, as he is seen as both the victim and as humane at different points in the play. Both his money and, his daughter are lost when Jessica elopes...

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Uploaded by:   teacup_1

Date:   05/08/2004

Category:   Shakespeare

Length:   3 pages (650 words)

Views:   2147

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