Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
There are many reasons how this scene is more effective than all the
others in the play for range of reasons. In this one scene it goes
through nearly every other thing that has been mentioned earlier in
the play. Also why most scenes have mainly one big point to them, this
one has five, and some more sub - plots.
Before it starts there is the aspect of Christian Justice, either way
the case goes its going to cause problems, if it goes in Antonio's
favour then there is going to be a problem from the Jews, saying he
got off just because he is a Christian, and the state needs to keep
the Jews ...view middle of the document...
Throughout the play, Antonio has always been played as the hero, by
being willing to sacrifice his life for his friend Bassanio, and
Shylock played as the typical villain, although there has been a few
times where he has gained sympathy. One example of this is where his
daughter Jessica elopes with a Christian, and he is a Jew. A famous
speech he makes to gain him sympathy is;
"I am a Jewâ€¦Hath a Jew not eyes? Hath a Jew not hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions?..."
This speech gains him a lot of sympathy, he is trying to make the
point, he is no different from everyone else, apart from he is not a
Although he gains this sympathy, Shakespeare make sure that he does
stop as the villain, by making him still go against the Christian,
which are typically the good people. A great example of this is in Act
1 scene 3, where shylock says;
"I hate him for he is a Christian:
But more for hat in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice"
Here he is shown as someone who hates Christians, and only cares about
his money, as he says he lends out money gratis, meaning he lends
people money without interest.
The approach he takes towards making Antonio the "hero" is different
though. Rather than just one big thing that makes him good, it is
composed of lots of little things, but the main one is that he is
willing to risk his life to get the money for his friend Bassanio to
try and marry Portia, a rich woman from Belmont. Perhaps the best
quote to describe Antonio is taken from the court scene, just as he is
about to lose his life, he says this;
"But little I am armed and well prepared.
Give me your hand, Bassanio fare you well!"
Here he doesn't seem to be bothered about dying, he just wants
Bassanio to be there with him when he dies, meaning Bassanio will be
left with this for the rest of his life, meaning that Antonio has gone
to his death, so he can marry Portia.
Portia plays a major role in the play, although, this part is split
into 2 in a way, Portia the rich woman everyone wants to marry, and
Balthazar, the young doctor of Rome, who steps in and saves Antonio's
life seconds before he is about to be killed by shylock, although
nobody even knows its her. The way in which she takes the court scene
is very tactical, when she first enters the court, she tries to sum up
the whole situation, and also fooling them as if she is on shylocks
side. Both Portia and Shylock are agreeing with everything the other
one says, and looking through the contract together, as if they are
both of the same side. Before she makes it clear she is against him,
and tells him that he cannot be stopped from taking his bond, she asks
him if he wishes to take trice the amount of money, but...