Does Shylock Deserve What He Gets?

1262 Words6 Pages
Is Shylock a victim or a villain? To what extent does Shylock deserve what happens to him in the Merchant of Venice? William Shakespeare’s, ‘Merchant of Venice’, is essentially a drama about money, betrayal and revenge. Set in 17th century Venice, it tells the account of a dispute between an affluent Jewish money lender, Shylock, and a hasty Christian Merchant, Antonio. Antonio seeks assistance from Shylock by securing a loan from him for Antonio’s good friend, Bassanio. This was foolish of Antonio because, for years, he has persecuted Shylock and both of them share a hatred for each other. Shylock agrees to this loan, however states that if he is not repaid, he is allowed to cut off a pound of Antonio’s flesh. All is resolved when Portia, Bassanio’s wife, interferes and, disguised as a law clerk fools Shylock out of his “bond”. Originally, we understand Shylock to be quite a vengeful character because of the “bond” he makes with Antonio. However, once we acknowledge the reasons why Shylock made such an agreement, we believe him to be quite reasonable. Shylock lives in an environment where Jews are despised, especially by Christians, and in Act 1, Scene 3 he makes it clear to the audience why he is cruel to Antonio: “Many a time and oft In the Rialto you have rated me About my moneys and my usances Still I have borne it with a patient shrug, for sufferance is the badge of all our tribe. You call me misbeliever, cut- throat dog and spit upon my Jewish gabardine.” This extract reveals that Shylock has been victimised and bullied by Antonio, and the phrase “many a time”, suggests that it constantly takes place. He continues to say the he has “borne it with a patient shrug” which conveys that he has a good side because he has tolerated the abuse and has

More about Does Shylock Deserve What He Gets?

Open Document