Merchant of Venice Essay

Submitted By zachpetropolis
Words: 1124
Pages: 5

“Oh Shylock, you villainous, poor, comedian”

In the play Merchant of Venice written by William Shakespeare, the main character, Shylock is a wealthy, local Jewish man who goes about his day like any other Jewish man in Venice. He makes a living by loaning money to the Christians in need, but then charges them much extra in interest. The Christians of course, do not approve of this one bit, but they cannot argue with him or else he will not lend them money! Shylock is one of the main characters in this play. He plays the role of the bad guy, who wants way too much in return after lending a Christian man money. An extremely unfortunate and unlucky man when his daughter runs away from him, his only family. He also can be considered a comic, in the eyes of the Christians. The Christians thought they were above the Jews, and the Jews were laughed at when compared to Christians. Shylock, is portrayed as a comic figure, a villainous figure, and also a character for whom we feel sympathy for throughout this one play.

In the beginning of the play, Shylock ends up lending a very wealthy Christian man, three thousand ducats, but in return, asks upon the man to, “Be nominated for and equal pound. Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken. In what part of your body pleaseth me” (1.3. 145-147). He is considered a villainous character for this action towards the Christian man. The man agrees with this almost instantly. Since he is a very wealthy and has his money invested in many places, he has all faith that he will have his money back in time. Shylock and this man have a bad history. Antonio (the Christian man dealing with Shylock), had treated Shylock like a piece of dirt in the past, stated by Shylock. (1.3.122-125) “Fair sir, you spat on me Wednesday last ; You spurn’d me such a day ; another time you call me dog – and for these courtesies I’ll lend you thus much moneys’?” By this line we know that Shylock isn’t a friend of Antonio and he will charge him an arm and a leg (or a breast) in interest with his money, just to get back at him. This is why Shylock is viewed as a villainous character in the play. In the Christians’ eyes he looks like a greedy Jewish fool who is screwing Antonio over. However, we as the reader can see that Shylock has a good reason for charging Antonio this price, why shouldn’t he? Its not like Antonio has done anything for Shylock!

Also, Shylock experiences more than his fair share of misfortunes too. During the play he lives with his daughter, Jessica. However, she runs away in the play to go live with another man whom she has fallen in love with. She wants to go away where nobody knows her and adopt the Christian ways. When she leaves, she sneaks away at night, dressed as a boy, and to even sharpen wound to her father, she takes all of his money lying around the house! When Shylock wakes and sees his daughter and money gone, he is completely heart broken, but strangely, he expresses more devastation towards his money being taken than his daughter running away. Shylock also is heartbroken in court when he is testifying against Antonio for not paying him in time. The judge originally awards Shylock his pound of flesh from Antonio, but right when Shylock is about to cut into Antonio like a pig on Thanksgiving Day, the judge stops him. He says that he can take no blood from Antonio because the agreement just stated for flesh. Shylock was appalled. The judge then takes Shylocks land, crops, and most importantly, his Jewish culture. He is forced to convert to Christianity. This is Shylocks worst nightmare. He was so close to his dreams coming true, then to have them ripped away and then more taken from him. He was dumbfounded. As for everybody else in the court room on Antonio’s side, they were hooting and hollering in celebration, just rubbing it into Shylock’s face. Shylock will never be the same, and he spent his life now aimlessly wandering the streets, wondering what would become of him. All of