Merchant Of Venice Essay

Submitted By Kyra-Phillips
Words: 857
Pages: 4

In the play Merchant of Venice written by William Shakespeare, the main antagonist Shylock is often portrayed as a cold-hearted villain. Shylock is actually not the villain but a victim of society. In defense to the above statement, Shylock was legally entitled to collecting his bond, Antonio deserved the punishment that Shylock was looking for and lastly, Shylock receives nothing and loses everything while his enemies gain all. Venice was the trading center of the world at this time and one’s word to a contract was required to all parties involved. Imagine a world without consequence. A place where people can run uncontrollably and do as they please without fear of being punished. This is the world that the character of Antonio is living in. Antonio is in desperate need of money to assist his friend Bassanio, so he reaches out for financial aid from the Jewish money lender, Shylock. Shylock graciously agrees to lend his enemy money which is legalized in a bond. Both characters agreed to the rules of the contract. "If you repay me not on such a day, In such a place, such a sum or sums as are express'd in the condition, let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your fair flesh,-" (I,iii,143-146). The stipulations of the bond as stated by Shylock are that if Antonio does not return the sum borrowed within three months’ time, he owes Shylock a pound of his flesh. However, Antonio still lashes out at Shylock when he cannot repay his loan. It seems obvious and only just that Antonio agrees to the contract. Venice had laws in place to protect non-Venetian traders, by upholding contracts as they supported the city's economic prosperity at the time. Shylock warns against the requirements of the contract when he states “..have I sworn to have the due and forfeit of my bond: if you deny it, let the danger light upon your charter and your city’s freedom.” (IV,i,36). However, as always, Antonio being a christian ends up walking away free. Secondly, when Antonio was not able to pay his loan, Shylock had every right to a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Antonio knew exactly what he was agreeing to and had every opportunity to deny or make amendments to the conditions of the bond. It is for that reason that Shylock is a victim who was robbed of justice as he did not receive his share of the bond. These are the reasons why Shylock had a legal right to his pound of flesh. Throughout the play Antonio is described as a loyal friend and respectful businessman person, however he is cruel and disrespectful of all Jews, especially Shylock. On the surface Antonio seems like a generous man, but in reality he very rude and aggressive towards Shylock on the Rialto. Antonio calls Shylock a “..misbeliever, cut-throat dog,” (I,iii, 107) and then proceeds to spit upon Shylock. It is clear that Antonio is not always the good person he is believed to be. Not only has Antonio physically and emotionally damaged Shylock but he also has cause. Antonio has been making this way of life very hard for Shylock by giving out loans free of interest, thus taking business away from Shylock and lowering his interest rates.