Shakespeare's Presentation Of Shylock In The Merchant Of Venice

662 words - 3 pages

Shakespeare's Presentation of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

In every play or story, you need a villain, someone you can hate - in
Cinderella you have the evil stepmother, in Harry Potter you have Lord
Voldermort, and in the Merchant of Venice you have Shylock. In this
scene, I see Shylock not as the comical buffoon or villain but as the
outsider. The scene opens with a conversation between Basanio and
Shylock. Basanio wants to borrow three thousand ducats from Shylock
for three months, but Shylock is reluctant. Antonio is then introduced
into the conversation, and Shylock takes more interest in the

Eventually, Shylock agrees to lend the money to Basanio, interest
free, on one condition - if the money is not repaid within three
months Shylock will be entitled to a pound of Antonio's flesh from the
part of his body which pleases Shylock the most. ...view middle of the document...

By the end of the scene you
can get the impression that he is ready to kill Antonio. This is when
he draws up the bond.

Shylock's character develops with the scene from being, at the start,
an innocent and vulnerable man who we (in modern times) feel sorry
for, although the Elizabethans would have seen him as an evil
murderous Jew; whilst we feel sorry for him, the Elizabethan audience
would have hissed at Shylock and praised Antonio for what he did to
Shylock. His character develops slowly until he becomes a bitter,
hateful man until at the end of the scene the change in his character
is more apparent. Shakespeare's presentation of Shylock's character
has not been typical of the way he is presented in the play as a whole
until this point. It is only from the point in his speech where
Shylock recollects Antonio's wrongs that his character changes into
the dangerous and obsessive villain that is typical of the rest of the
play, although Shylock sees himself as the tragic hero.

People are most likely to feel sorry for him in the middle of this
scene, during his speech, because you can almost relate to the pain he
is feeling. People are least likely to feel sorry for him when at
first Antonio walks in and he starts saying "how like a fawning
publican he looks. I Hate him" as Antonio is a Christian and a popular
character. Shylock is also unpopular when he proposes his bond.

I think that the way Shylock was presented in this scene was fairly
typical of the way he is presented as a whole only when he is the
villain. However, I also think that he is at his "most gentle" in this
scene. As the play moves on Shylock's hatred grows and grows until at
the end of the play he feels so much loathing towards Antonio that the
conclusion of the trial devastates him so much that he must leave the
court. It is sad that a man should feel so much hatred towards another
human being; although the story is only a play and the characters
fictional, I feel the hatred was real.

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