“The Merchant of Venice” is one of Shakespeare’s most well known comedies and was written in the past due 1590’s. The play is set mainly in Venice, which at that time was the location of trade, and which Shakespeare’s audience would have found exotic. At this time, Jews were cared for very badly and were frequently excluded by their community. The topics of the play are revenge, mercy, and justice. Shylock, with Antonio is the major character in the play, sometimes referred to as a villain and sometimes a victim. The dictionary identifies a villain as “a cruelly malicious person” and a victim as “somebody who is deceived or cheated”. However the question still remains: Shylock sufferer or villain?

Shylock does not appear at the start of the play for one key reason I believe, which is Shakespeare sought the audience to see Shylock enter by himself for dramatic effect. Shylock’s first appearance is at Act 1 Landscape 3, which is set in Venice. Shylock is rather teasing as he makes Bassanio perspiration for a straightforward one-word answer:

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Shylock: Victim or villain?
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

“Three thousand ducats for 90 days, and Antonio bound”

“Three thousand ducats: I think I might take this connection”

Evidently, Shylock is recurring and he is handling the dialogue. The audience would not enjoy Shylock attaining ability especially over Bassanio, who is a Christian. The term “bond” is a key word used consistently through the play especially by Shylock. The term “bond” is powerful terms of the law and portrays Shylock as a dignified human being. Shakespeare’s intention here’s to show how Shylock constantly needs to maintain control, but as we see later in the play this isn’t always the case.

Shylock admittedly says he hates Christians, which is very racist:

“I hate him for he’s Christian”

Clearly this vocabulary shows that Shylock is prejudiced and this quotation would distress the modern audience, as they would be predominantly Christian. Just how this term is created is very interesting and typical of Shakespeare. Shakespeare has cleverly written this phrase so that every word, bar, Religious has one syllable whereas the word Christian has two. This stresses the Christian area of the sentence so it will stay in the audience’s heads who they’ll be not satisfied at Shylock.

Furthermore, whenever Shylock talks to either Bassanio or Antonio, he seldom uses gracious words. “Curs’d”, has unpleasant connotations which show the audience that Shylock doesn’t have any respect. Shylock’s bond comes with an extreme condition to it:

“for an equal pound of your fair flesh”

This implies that Shylock would like revenge if his money is not repaid. The terminology is simple, but effective. Shakespeare uses alliteration to help make the point “fair flesh” stand out. This expression would cause high remarkable tension.

Shylock has been called a dog, an insult for a Jew, “. . . . slash throat dog”. At this time people thought in the chain of being which was a hierarchy of beings. Puppies as family pets were at the bottom of this chain which means this insult is a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, during the play it was common for Jewish visitors to be insulted in this manner. The imagery is revolting. A “cut throat dog” advises death and execution which would make the audience shiver.

Additionally in Take action 2 Picture 2 we see an understanding into Shylock’s home life from his servant Lancelot:

“the Jew is the devil incarnation”

Shakespeare has cleverly included Lancelot in this arena therefore the audience can get a perspective of what Shylock the man is very like. Therefore when he telephone calls Shylock a devil the audience is aware that Lancelot does not have any admiration for him. The term “devil” increases the working motif in the play as Shylock is usually known as devil-like. In framework Lancelot should respect his master not deceive him. Commitment is a major theme of the play and there is none of them between both of these characters.

Lancelot wants to run away from Shylock, his grasp:

“I’ll run as far as God has any surface” which shows deep hatred for Shylock, and leaves him thinking that Lancelot is running away because Shylock is dealing with him badly

In Work 2 Field 3 we see Shylock’s girl Jessica who does nothing like her own house, “The house is hell” “Hell” is a strong phrase in the play and this image of Shylock recurs throughout the play. This simple dialect is monosyllabic which shows Jessica’s lack of delight. The audience would feel sympathetic towards Jessica as she actually is alone with Shylock who in the eyes of the audience is portrayed as a monster. Shakespeare’s goal here is to show the audience what Shylock’s own blood vessels and flesh thinks of him, evidently profound loathing. What makes this more convincing is the actual fact that Jessica says this because she’s known Shylock her whole life and she still hates him.

In the next landscape Lorenzo compares Shylock to his girl and evidently shows more lovingness towards Jessica and disrespect to Shylock:

“If e’r the Jew her dad come to heaven, it’ll be for his soft daughter’s sake”

We can easily see here how there is a contrast in the terminology used when referring to Jessica and Shylock. Firstly Lorenzo addresses Shylock as “Jew’ which is prejudiced, whereas he uses words such as “heaven” and “gentle” to portray Jessica. Shakespeare has cleverly carried out this comparison for effect because he wished to inform you to the audience who the villain is really. He also makes a spiritual joke at Shylock’s expense.

Shylock is malevolent to his servant Lancelot and intensely commanding:

“I really do not bid thee call”

“Do when i bid”

The way that Shylock said this was in a mean manner and it is harsh towards Lancelot. In both conditions the terminology is monosyllabic and commanding which shows the audience that Shylock feels he has ability over everyone.

At the finish of Action 2 Picture 5 we see Jessica privately mutter to herself the controversial real truth:

“Farewell, in case my bundle of money be not cross’d I have a daddy, you a daughter lost”

This is an extremely contentious saying in the play. At this stage, we feel extremely sympathetic for Shylock, as he does not know that he is going to reduce his daughter. That is extreme remarkable irony. Shakespeare’s dialect here’s purposeful as he has used rhyming couplets for dramatic effect and also to stress the importance of the words.

In Function 2 Picture 6 we see a different area of Jessica. Jessica when running away is very deceitful and requires all her father’s wealth:

“Here, get this casket, it is worth three aches”

This is greatly emotional for the audience because here they are seeing a child running away from home and they know that regardless of what has occurred that Shylock will be annoyed. Furthermore, Jessica is taking all Shylock’s wealth and money is a huge theme of the play, which Shakespeare exploits here.

When Solanio confirms outs that Shylock has lost his girl and his money in Act 2 World 8 he teases Shylock but not to his face:

“My ducats and my princess”

The structure of this sentence is ingenious. Firstly Shakespeare has used alliteration so the audience can plainly hear the words especially “daughter” and “ducats” as they are important here. I also found when depicting this was the layout of the words and I noticed that the word “ducats” is before “daughter”. Which means this could infer how he enjoys his money more than his little girl. The contemporary audience would sympathise with Shylock as he’s being mocked behind his rear.

Act 3 Arena 1 was occur Venice, which was the area of business. Shylock is in the street by himself, whereas Solanio and Solario are collectively. This adds to Shylock’s vulnerability as he’s alone without friends and companionship is a vital theme of the play.

Salarino says to Shylock how different he’s compared to his little girl, ‘Jet and Ivory’. Shakespeare uses an oxymoron to portray the contrast between them, which creates images in the audience’s minds which some could find funny an others ironic. This might build up pressure between the two character types and shows Shylock as dark and Jessica as reasonable.

Shylock repeats himself for revenge again and has many horrific ideas like the “pound of flesh”. Shylock also does not like how there is a major difference between Jews and Christians:

‘If you prick us do we not bleed’

Shylock has a great deal of anger in him and has indicated himself very psychologically here. Shylock’s talk is prose rendering it clear which is from the heart. He’s arguing for common mankind as he feels alienated and susceptible. Here at the finish of the talk I believe the audience would have been silenced as Shylock details on some sensitive matters. The imagery created is extremely efficacious because Shylock has an extremely valid point and has divulged this with a rhetorical question. This would own an inducing influence on the audience because this saying would leave them to answer this question in their own head. The utilisation of the rhetorical question has enabled Shylock to connect indirectly to the audience, that could influence their opinion of him.

After his speech Shylock becomes intrigued when he hears news that Antonio’s boats are sinking, “I’ll torture him”. Torture is a robust word and incredibly horrific, which ultimately shows deep need to get revenge on Antonio.

In Work 3 Field 3, Antonio has been arrested. Shylock can take the image of an dog and turns it around to the Christians. “EASILY am dog beware my fangs”. Here’s evidence of how bitter Shylock is becoming and the firmness in which he would say it would be sarcastic.

Act 4 Scene 1 is the central & most dramatic part of the play where both Shylock and Antonio negotiate their variations in a courtroom.

The Duke shows deep feeling for Antonio at the start, he identifies Antonio as “thee”. The actual fact that the Duke addresses him as “thee”, is quite significant as “thee” can be used intimately. When Shylock first enters the room he is being questioned. “Shylock the world thinks”, this shows that they want to isolate Shylock. As of this juncture the audience would have commiseration for Shylock because the compare of how he’s treated compared with Antonio, here Shylock is seen as a sufferer.

In the courtroom when Shylock replies he uses quite vengeful and powerful dialect and he uses a lot of language associated with animals. “forfeit”, “sworn”, “cat” and “rat”. These words are significant because they show his interest for revenge. The animal imagery is crude and predicated on vermin which makes Shylock seem uncanny in the eyes of the audience.

Later on in this Act we see Shylock with his knife:

“To slice the forfeiture”

The diction here implies fatality immediately and these images are quite violent and would alarm the audience. Just how Shakespeare brings the knife into this is he cleverly uses little relief from a personality to bring this about.

Whereas Antonio’s dialect is noticeably simple and the audience would look at this, “I really do”. That is significant because he recognizes that the finish is approaching, therefore the audience would feel for Antonio because they know that Shylock is eager to kill him.

During the court world, it is astonishing how Bassanio handles to insult Shylock, “cruel devil” This is a repeated motif throughout the play but what’s important about the timing of the insult is that it’s in a courtroom room which is meant to be good to all people. So they are trying to play mind video games with Shylock, these methods would be viewed as unfair by the modern audience.

Shylock only seems to keep in mind the bloody details of his bond, “I cannot find it”. That is quite ironic how Shylock was fussy about details about the “pound of flesh” but not when Antonio’s life is the problem. Evidently, this implies that Shylock will not want justice but revenge and the audience would observe that clearly.

Antonio becomes emotional, when he has learned the finish is near:

“you might as well do anything most hard”

This is a piece of rhetoric stressing the future of his cause. The atmosphere is substantially tense, Shakespeare uses hyperbolic terms to express mental sadness. The fact that Antonio is nearing fatality makes the audience feel for him as his life is on the line.

Further, on in the court docket landscape Antonio admits that he’s doomed:

“the weakest kind of berries”

This metaphor is powerful and would make the audience unfortunate to see him worried. The imagery created by this is powerful in the sense that Antonio is like a fruit which is slowly but surely dropping of the tree, this persuades the audience and reassures them who the villain is.

Portia pleads powerfully in her talk and uses two types of images to persuade him spiritual and monarchy. “God”, “mercy” and “sceptred”. This conversation is the turning point and the audience may evaluate Shylock as a sufferer or villain on the basis of this speech. That is a robust monologue for the audience who want salvation. The talk is noble and densely packed with images, ” throned monarch”. However a few of the conversation is not reasonable as it is about Christianity, but Shylock is a Jew. Nevertheless, the whole audience is swept away by this conversation. Shylock’s response to the was extremely important. This is why Shakespeare uses unrhymed iambic pentameter to stress the importance of this.

“The penalty and forfeit of my bond”

This unrhymed verse is impressive to the audience for various reasons. Firstly it contains laws jargon which really is a recurring behavior of Shylock. Then it contains 10 syllables in the routine of fragile, strong, weak which is extraordinary, the way the strong tensions are on the main element words of the expression. Such as for example “penalty and forfeit”.

Further on in the Work Shylock is absolutely anxious, that he has bought his own scales to gauge the “pound of flesh”, “I’ve them ready”. The audience would see this as quite peculiar and sickening that he has even helped bring his own scales to gauge the flesh, it is almost as if he knew that this would be the results. Getting the scales would cause huge trepidation for the audience for Antonio’s sake. The language is monosyllabic but awfully potent.

As we see throughout the play Shylock requirements for things to be achieved by regulations, “is the fact regulations?”. Shylock’s diction is brief, which is demonstrating his objective to find the trial over an finished with, the modern audience would see this as vengeful. However I really believe the present day day audience would probably understand that regulations is vital to abide by due to the modern day population are very aware about the consequences if laws are not followed.

Gratiano in the judge mocks Shylock, “O learned judge”. This would make the audience chuckle as Shylock previously was at a happy mood and said a similar phrase. Nevertheless, the power has relocated from Shylock so he is not in a good spirits any longer so Gratiano’s build would be sarcastic.

When Antonio is free to go, he makes the request for Shylock to stop his trust as a Jew. The contemporary audience, who are mainly Religious, would be happy but revealing Shylock to change his trust would seem to be unfair for some. The very last words of Shylock are actually quite heartbreaking

“I pray you give me personally”

These words suggest that Shylock is a beaten man, that has lost everything and the audience would consider what he has done throughout the play and make their own judgements to whether he’s a sufferer or villain. In the beginning of this arena, Shylock is walking into the court arena as a villain because he is getting revenge on Shylock whereas by the end of the judge scene, he is a beaten man and the audience would empathize with him.

In realization, through analysing the play, in my opinion I really believe Shylock is a villain for various reasons. Firstly he wants his “pound of flesh” and this is a recurring theme throughout of the play. Through disassembling each field in the play he will not show any morsel of mercy, whereas other personas have attempted and I’ve taken this under consideration. However, I feel the modern day audience would perceive Shylock as a victim as today we live in an equal contemporary society where no person or beliefs is alienated from a community. After reading the play I’m also able to observe how other readers would view Shylock as a victim because he has lost everything including his family and he is the only identity who ends of up with less than he began with. This play has numerous themes or templates embedded into it and possibly the most crucial is friendship. What’s quite ironic is that both main character types of Antonio and Shylock do not have a partner at the end of the play! I was extremely lucky to have the ability to see the film of “The Merchant of Venice”. Inside the film, Shylock especially in the court docket landscape is portrayed as a villain as the director shows him lurking in the backdrop as if he is drawing up a plan in the court scene. Within the film, the courtroom scene is extremely well aimed because as in the play, there is a hostile reception for Shylock and he’s constantly being jeered at.