Is Shylock A Victim Or A Villain?

565 words - 3 pages

Shakespeare first introduces Shylock in Act1:Scene3. With no stage directions we have to decipher what a character is like only through what they say. “Three thousand Ducats-well.” His first line is about money. Shakespeare instantly gives us the impression that his only interest is money. This is also the case when he is at home with Jessica, his daughter and away from work. He explains how he dreamed of money bags yet does not acknowledge his daughter or show her any affection. However we later find out that money is not the only thing on his mind but his longing hatred for Antonio. Shylock hates him for he is a Christian but more because he lends money with no interest.
Antonio’s hate is reciprocated as he compares ...view middle of the document...

Shylock mutters “Cursed be my tribe, if I ever forgive him.” He will show no mercy towards Antonio and he does not in the trial scene in Act 4: Scene 1.
It hard to decide whether Shylock is a victim or villain when he is first introduced as we learn about what he has had to put up with, being called a misbeliever, cut throat dog and others spitting on his beard for the reason that he is a Jew. We feel pity and sympathy for the things he has had to endure which means we cannot cling to a unique view of Shylock as a villain. He wants people to respect him and like him yet he cannot show any affection or respect towards his own daughter. He shows the same hatred back towards Antonio and if he catches him once upon the hip he will take his revenge. Coiling up all the hatred he has inherited has caused him to pass on the mistrust and hatred to others without being totally aware he is doing so. Moments later he talks about being Antonio’s friend and charging him no interest. This sudden change of feeling and thought gives the audience a suspicion that he is planning something. We no longer think of him as a victim alone, he has shown us through his speech and actions that he has a villainies way about him. He hates him for he is a Christian just as the way Antonio hates Shylock for he is a Jew. Should we now feel sympathy for Antonio? We don’t and I think Shakespeare has decided to portray Shylock as more as a Victim in this scene is to capture the Elizabethan audience alone. A victim is the opposite to what they would have thought of him yet Shakespeare is trying to send a message. They would have though of him to be a stereotypical villain yet he is not Shakespeare has added complexity to his character.

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