This essay will be based around the question, Is Shylock a Victim or a Villain? I will be looking into further detail within the book to decide the most appropriate answer. I will also be giving evidence such as quotes to back up my judgements.
One reason that makes me think Shylock has evil lurking within him is the bond that he makes. However cruel Shylock may have been treated, I think he still went overboard with Antonio’s penalty. “Let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body pleaseth me.
“I would my daughter were dead at my feet”, Shylock said this soon after his daughter Jessica, ran away with Lorenzo to get married and change religion. Jessica also ran away with many ducats and some of Shylocks most valuable possessions. This shows that Shylock is very malicious. Although what Jessica did must be very stressful for Shylock to deal with, he still shouldn’t have said that.
When Antonio begs for his mercy, Shylock pays no attention, even when offered 20 times the sum of the loan. This states that Shylock wants revenge, no matter what he will lose to get it. This provides more evidence towards the conclusion that Shylock, is in fact a villain.
Some events and phrases change the fact that Shylock is a villain. For example, when Antonio approaches Shylock to request a loan, Shylock expresses his thoughts. This is a quote from his speech, “In the Rialto you have rated me about my moneys and my nuisances…..and for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much moneys”.
When Jessica runs away with Lorenzo, a Christian, Shylock is very stressed out. Also the fact that she is changing religion to Christianity encourages Shylock to have his revenge. Also the turquoise ring that Jessica stole, which was Shylock’s most valued possession makes us more sympathetic towards him.
Near the end of the play, Portia, Bassanio and Antonio fool Shylock. This was very embarrassing for Shylock. Although he might have deserved it because he was just about to cut Antonio’s flesh and didn’t have a changer of heart. However this shows that Shylock is a victim because they gang up on him.
My general opinion is that Shylock is a victim. One reason why I think this is because he lives in a society, where Jews are simply rejected. Therefore any Jew in Shylock’s position would have done the same thing, to get back at the people that make his life and others alike, miserable.