Is Shylock a Victim or Villain

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William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ protagonist Shylock who is a Jewish money lender is frequently depicted as a victim and/or villain. There have been many accusations over time as to what Shylock is referred to, most commonly being a villain. This statement is true as Shylock demonstrates and indicates all the characteristics of a stereotypical villain. There are many events in The Merchant of Venice which is supported by evidence based on this theory. Revenge, mercy and justice are the biggest yet most important themes in The Merchant of Venice. Revenge being the most sought out theme of the play, with the protagonist Shylock. Shylock is most commonly depicted as the villain of the play as majority of the time we see him wanting revenge, which is fuelled by his hatred and loathing towards Antonio and the Christians of Venice. Once Shylock had the opportunity to get revenge on Antonio he took it, this was seen as a villainous act and Shylock was then deemed as a villain. Shylock took advantage of the situation knowing beforehand that Antonio’s boats which were full of his possessions and thousands of ducats were not to arrive on time within a period of three months. He then granted the loan to Bassanio and Antonio and when discussing the forfeiture of the bond Shylock says (Act I Scene III) “Let the forfeiture be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of the body pleaseth me.” Antonio does not realise as he is still under the impression his boats will be back in time that this is actually a cunning plan to murder him while at the same time Shylock has the law on his side as it is a bond. When first introduced to Shylock in Act I you learn of his hatred towards Antonio and the Christians. He also describes the way he has been treated, mocked and victimised by the Christians and how he yearns revenge on the
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