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Villian Or Victim? Essay

852 words - 4 pages

Shylock: Tormented or Victim?
What makes a villain? How would villainy be defined? Villains may have a desire to kill, to steal, or to cause suffering. To define a villain is not done by just evaluating their actions but by looking at the circumstances and their intentions. In "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare, Shylock would appear to be the obvious villain showing cruel and cold-hearted traits. However, Antonio creates an emotionally complex personality in the character of Shylock. A villain is someone in whom pain is inflicted upon them by another, someone who is victimized unreasonably with no purpose for it, and someone who is not capable of changing the actions towards ...view middle of the document...

Antonio is no stranger to Shylock. They are business rivals with a firm dislike for each other. Antonio has shown Shylock even less courtesy than everyone else. “You call me 'misbeliever', 'cut-throat dog', and spit upon my Jewish gabardine” (Shylock, act 1 scene 3), says Shylock, “He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated my enemies - and what's his reason? I am a Jew” (Shylock, act 3 scene 1). This listing technique emphasises Shylock's fury and distress. Antonio has clearly gone out of his way to cause Shylock trouble in the past, therefore providing Shylock with many reasons to despise him and seek revenge. Shylock's insistence towards their bond is understandable.
The recent events Shylock has been through are certain to have intensified his mounting hatred. His only servant Lancelot leaves him, and works for a new master, the Christian Bassanio. Furthermore, his only daughter, “Jessica” leaves him to be wed to Antonio's friend, Lorenzo. This would largely greaten Shylocks hatred for Antonio, as Jessica stole Shylock’s money and jewels; she was also changing her religion. Shylock regards religion as being very important, and he strongly despises Christians. When Shylock discovers the fate of his ring he is furious. “It was my turquoise, I had it of Leah when I was a...

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