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Shylock Is The Villian In Shakespeare’s Merchant Of Venice Essay, Research Paper

Shylock is the Villian in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice

In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice the antagonist of the play is

Shylock. Shylock is a wealthy Jewish moneylender. Shylock is probably the most

memorable character in the play because of Shakespeare’s excellent

characterization of him. Shylock is the antagonist in the play because he

stands in the way of love, but this does not necessarily make him the villain of

the play. Shylock can be seen as both the villain of the play and as a man who

is very human.

The villain that we see in Shylock is the greedy moneylender. Shylock

charges high interest rates and when he is not repaid he insists on revenge. In

the play Shylock loans Antonio money, and out of jest he suggests that should

the loan not be repaid in time Shylock may cut off one pound of flesh from

Antonio’s body. Soon after Shylock’s daughter runs away from home with Lorenzo,

a Christian, and takes her father’s ducats with her. When Antonio’s ships do

not come in and he is not able to repay the loan Shylock is no longer interested

in getting his money back. Shylock want revenge for the loss of his daughter

through the fulfillment of the bond. In court Shylock is defeated because of

his selfishness.

Shakespeare also shows the human qualities of Shylock throughout the

play. Shakespeare brings out these human qualities by causing us to feel

sympathy for him. After the loss of his daughter Shylock ran through the

streets crying ?My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!? as children followed

him, mocking him. This causes us to feel sympathy for Shylock, even though we

may feel him to be a villain. Besides the loss of his daughter and his ducats,

after the trial Shylock also looses his property and his religion. The loss of

his property was certainly a blow to Shylock but it can hardly compare to his

loss of his religion. His forced conversion to Christianity brings out more

sympathy for him.

Shakespeare’s manipulation of our feelings for Shylock show

Shakespeare’s gift as a writer. He gave Shylock the ability to make us hate him

at times, and sympathize with him at others. This makes Shylock one of the most

vivid characters of the play.


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