The play The Merchant Of Venice was written in a time of anti Semitism. There was a great divide between the Jewish and Christian religion when Shakespeare wrote this play. He wanted to put these religions together and predict a miscellaneous ending. He does this by punishing Shylock for choosing law over love and mercy. There are two different ways of looking at this play. The modern audience would have different views and opinions of the play and it would have been acted out differently.
I am looking at a modern point of view, so Shylock is presented with a more human side to an alternative of a stereotypical Jew. Shakespeare teaches us the values he believes in, through the character Portia. Throughout this play shylock is shown as both victim and a villain. I have pin pointed the scenes in which this has happened, giving quotes, explanations and backing my answers up . I will then try to justify how far shylock is perceived as a victim or a villan. Act 1 scene 3 holds many points to show shylock as a victim and a villain. We begin to see these factors.
In act 1 scene 3 when shylock says “fair sir, you spat on me Wednesday last, you spurned me such a day, another time you called me dog” this presents Shylock as a victim as Antonio has “spurned” “spat” and “called me dog” to shylock. We are made to feel sympathy for Shylock. We then see shylock as a different character when he asks for a pound of Antonio’s flesh. ” Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken” we see Shylock as a villan in this piece shown above, but small parts of this contradict this as all of the things Antonio has done to Shylock.
Shylock is now presented as a villain as he goes against his religion and retaliates. Also in this scene Shylock doubts the security of Antonio’s ships but is willing to lend the money. we then see shylock as a victim until he tells the audience that he hates Antonio and intends to harm him if he can. ” I hate him for he is a Christian” In act 2 scene 3 Shylock is perused as a villain. We get this impression from his daughter Jessica. Jessica wants to move away from Shylock and elope with Lorenzo “our house is hell” She cant stand staying with shylock and only stays because she has nowhere else to go.
She is ashamed of him being a Jew and is ashamed to be his daughter ” to be ashamed to be my fathers child” this presents Shylock as a villain as even his closest relative can’t stand him. Shylock is presented as a villan but we are made to feel sympathy for him in view of the fact that of his daughter leaving him with nothing. Even though Shylock isn’t in this scene we get varied impressions of him. Shakespeare did this to make the audience form an opinion about Shylock and I think the opinion that the audiences form is that Shylock is a villain.
In Act 2 scene 8 there are many aspects showing Shylock as a victim. An example of this is when Salarino says, ” why all the boys in Venice follow him” This displays him as a victim as it illustrates that Venician children have a higher status than a Jewish man. Although in this scene Salarino and solanio are mimicking Shylock. The main content of what they are saying could portrait him as a villan. “My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter” Throughout this speech when Solarino is mimicking Shylock there is more reference to his riches than to his daughter.
This suggests that he is more hurt about the loss of his riches then his daughter. This makes Shylock look like a villain, even though he has lost everything. Shylock isn’t featured in this scene but we are able to see aspects related to him being a villan. In act 3 scene 1 Shylock is displayed as a victim. Jessica has just taken his wife’s ring, which was Shylocks only Precise possession and meant a lot to him. “I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the jewels in her ear” this presents Shylock as an heartless person who doesn’t care for his own flesh and blood.
Solarino and Solanio taunt Shylock about Jessica running away with a Christian ” that’s certain; I for my part knew the trailer that made the wings she flew withal” In contrast Shylock is showed as a villain as he said he would look as a Christian and seek revenge. ” To bait fish withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge” he is viewed as calculated character but has a point about Christians being treated the same as Jews so we get mixed opinions about Shylock in this scene.
In act 4 scene 1 Shylock is portrayed as a villan. We get this impression as Shylock was given the chance for mercy ” thou’lt show thy mercy and remorse most strange” but chose to go against his religion and demand the pound of flesh” the pound of flesh which I demand of him” He believes he is right and should have the bond that Antonio signed for. ” to have the due and forfeit of my bond” Shylock feels no sympathy for Antonio at all as he believes that the pound of flesh is his by law.
This doesn’t make us think very highly of Shylock as he is happy to take a pound of flesh no matte what it takes. Though parts of the play affect our views as Shylock was driving to act like this by the Christians poorly treating him Shylock implacably refuses to show mercy until he is given no choice as blood is not mentioned in the bond ” This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood” This means Shylock has to show mercy ads you can not take a pound of blood without shedding blood.
We now see shylock as a victim as he didn’t get his revenge and is left with nothing, not even his dignity. To conclude I would say that Shylock is too controversial a character to be a victim or a villain. , There are different Factors to show Shylock as a victim or a villain like his is portrayed as a villain when he wants to take Antonio’s life but is displayed as a victim when his daughter Jessica takes his possessions. In perspective I would say that Shylock is rather a villain then a victim as we have seen more evidence of him being displayed as a villain.