Shylock: Victim or Villain?

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.

Villain:

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.

Villain:

“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.

Villain:

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.

Victim:

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”.

Victim:

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.

Victim:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

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37 Comments
  1. shylock
    Posted February 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    good work

  2. Antonio
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Very Good.

  3. badman
    Posted March 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Nice. Very helpful and well structured.

  4. stephen
    Posted March 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I think that Shylock is a villian because even thought he has been dicriminated he is still a villian ragadless of his religion

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  24. Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Well written!!! I love Shakespeare and Merchant of Venice was one of the first plays that I read and studied. Share the same points of view as you on this character sketch….

  25. Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

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  27. My conclusion:
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 10:24 am

    In the end I believe that Shylock is a victim of his own villainous acts, and everything that caused his downfall, was a reproduction of what helped with his success. For example, had Shylock not asked for a pound of Antonio’s flesh, he would not have been in court and lose everything. Another case is if he did not sign the bond at all, Bassanio would never have met Portia who single-handedly ruined everything Shylock had.

  28. Posted December 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

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  29. sawal
    Posted December 22, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    thanx m8, helpful 4 ma essay

  30. Posted February 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

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  32. Posted April 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    tee hee he is a villan

  33. Tara
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I think shylock is a victim, there is more than meets the eye, shakespear always makes the plot of the story deeper than you may think. Shylock is the way he is because of Antonio.

  34. Posted November 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    yessss thanx aish this rely helpd me a last min essay

  35. abdi
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 8:27 am

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  36. FRUITY
    Posted July 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    VILLIANNNNN HIS A BLOODYY VILLIAN JOKE HIS A BOOK CHARACTER ROFL.

  37. Posted August 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    ….wow

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