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Shylock & # 8211 ; Victim Or Villian Essay, Research Paper

January 21, 1994 Shylock-Victim or Villain

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In 1594 the Earl of Essex, an English Nobleman who lived during the Elizabethan period in England, was actively involved in the persecution and tests of Roderigo Lopez. Lopez was a Jew of Portuguese descent, who was wrongly accused of trying to poison the Queen of England, for grounds ne’er to the full explained. Lopez, being the Queen & # 8217 ; s royal doctor, was in no place to support himself one time he was accused. Essex, who provided the grounds besides presided over the test of Lopez, go forthing Lopez small opportunity of endurance. The guiltless Jew was hanged, drawn, and quartered in Tyburn, England for all to witness.

The narrative of Roderigo Lopez is similar to the narrative of Shylock, although, Palmer tells us & # 8220 ; It is non suggested that Shakespeare in portraying Shylock, had any political or societal purposes & # 8221 ; ( 112-13 ) . Both Jews were placed in clip where & # 8220 ; antisemitism was in manner & # 8221 ; ( Palmer 113 ) , and both thrown into tribunal where they would be tried unjustly. The narrative of Roderigo Lopez sets the tone for The Merchant of Venice. Lopez & # 8217 ; incident occurred in 1594, The Merchant of Venice was written merely two old ages subsequently. Anti-semitism was prevailing during Shakespeares & # 8217 ; clip, and therefore we must understand that it was as easy for him to do a Judaic adult male the scoundrel as it would be for us to do a Nazi the scoundrel. Harmonizing to Sylvan Barnet & # 8220 ; The Merchant of Venice [ shows ] the wide lineation of a comedy ( non simply a drama with jokes, but a drama that ends merrily ) . . . the scoundrel in the comedy must be wholly nefarious, or, instead, comically nefarious ; he can non for a minute addition the audience & # 8217 ; s sympathy & # 8221 ; ( 1 ) . Shylock has frequently been portrayed as the scoundrel in The Merchant of Venice. From being more concerned with his ducats instead than his girl, to demanding his lb of flesh, Shylock fits absolutely into the cast of the scoundrel. However, with mention to Barnet & # 8217 ; s remark & # 8220 ; he can non for a minute addition the audience & # 8217 ; s sympathy & # 8221 ; ( 1 ) , Shylock oversteps the boundaries of his nefarious character. The audience can non and would non hold rooted for Shylock during Shakespeare & # 8217 ; s life-time, yet, now we do. Shylock is simply a victim of antisemitism. Although winning in his bond, Shylock was raped of his lands, his religion and his pride. Shylock non the needfully the scoundrel, instead the victim.

Shakespeare takes his clip before presenting Shylock, nevertheless, when he does, he shows us a nice man of affairs.

Bassanio

May you stead me? Will you pleasure me?

Shall I know your reply?

Usurer

Three thousand ducats for three months & # 8211 ;

and Antonio edge.

Bassanio

Your reply to that.

Usurer

Antonio is a good adult male.

Bassanio

Have you heard any imputation to the

contrary?

Usurer

Ho no, no, no, no & # 8230 ; my significance in stating

he is a good adult male, is to hold you understand me that he

is sufficient. Yet his agencies are in guess: he hath

an argosy edge to Tripolis, another to the Indies ;

I understand furthermore upon the Rialto he hath a 3rd

at Mexico, a 4th for England, and other ventures he

hath squandered abroad. But ships are but boards,

crewmans but work forces & # 8211 ; there be land-rats and water-rats,

land-thieves and water-thieves & # 8211 ; I mean pirates-and

so there is hazard of Waterss, air currents, and stones. The

adult male is, notwithstanding, sufficient. Three 1000

ducats & # 8211 ; I think I may take his bond ( I. iii. 7-26. ) .

Through this full exchange Shylock says that Antonio is financially fit. Shylock knows that Antonio is good for the three 1000 ducats. Then, as any good man of affairs would make, he considers how Antonio, a merchandiser, has all of his ships at sea. He talks of the dangers of sea and how Antonio may non acquire all of his ships back, if so, he will non hold the money. It is here that we begin to acquire a glance of Shylocks & # 8217 ; evilness. & # 8220 ; The adult male is, non defying, sufficient. Three thousand ducats & # 8211 ; I think I may take his bond & # 8221 ; ( I. i. 25-26. ) . Shylock realizes his chance, he can gain from this venture. Shakespeare begins to make his scoundrel, we have no pick but to detest this adult male. Shakespeare continues to construct his scoundrel by giving Shylock an aside in which he reveals his hate for Antonio, because he is a Christian and he lends money without bear downing involvement, therefore conveying the involvements rates down. However, it is in this same scene that we hear Shylocks defence.

Usurer

Signor Antonio, many a clip and oft

in the rialto you have rated me

About my moneys and my usances.

Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,

For sufferance is the badge of all our folk.

You call me heretic, cutthroat Canis familiaris,

And tongue upon my Judaic garbedine,

And all for usage of that which is mine ain.

Well so, it now appears you need my aid.

Go to, so. You come to me and you say,

& # 8220 ; Shylock, we would hold moneys & # 8221 ; & # 8211 ; you say so,

You that did invalidate your rheum upon my face fungus

And pick me as you spurn a alien mongrel

Over your threshold! Moneys is your suit.

What should I state to you? Should I non state,

& # 8220 ; Hath a Canis familiaris money? Is it possible

A mongrel can impart three thousand ducats? & # 8221 ; Or

Shall I bend low and in a bondsman & # 8217 ; s key,

With bated breath and whispering unimportance,

Say this:

& # 8220 ; Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last,

You spurned me such a twenty-four hours, another clip

You called me Canis familiaris, and for these courtesies

I & # 8217 ; ll impart you lend you therefore much moneys & # 8221 ; ( I. iii. 104-127 ) ?

Why would Shakespeare give his scoundrel such an luxuriant address, and why such a good defence? It is notable that Shylock is the lone Shakespearean scoundrel, with a defence. Both, Don John in Much Ado About Nothing and Duke Frederick in As You Like It, for illustration, play nonmeaningful functions as scoundrels. Duke Frederick has small to state during the drama except to ostracize Rosalind. Don John has no motor whatsoever for trying to destroy his friends & # 8217 ; marrying. Yet, at the terminal of both dramas there is no existent understanding for them because we ne’er truly cognize them. Shakespeare doesn & # 8217 ; t convey Frederick or Don John to life, nevertheless, Shylock does come to life, in fact he is full of life. & # 8220 ; He steps into the drama, existent and single from his first word on & # 8221 ; ( Granville-Barker 55 ) . We know Shylock, we understand him, and most of all we sympathize for him. & # 8220 ; Shakespeare has humanized him [ Shylock ] to such good intent that this amusing Jew has become, for many superb and sensitive critics, a moving, about a tragic figure & # 8221 ; ( Palmer 117 ) . However these were non Shakespeare & # 8217 ; s purposes. & # 8220 ; When Shakespeare sat down to compose The Merchant Of Venice in 1594, antisemitism was in manner & # 8221 ; ( Palmer 113 ) . Knowing this it becomes clear why Shakespeare was able to utilize a Jew as the scoundrel. However what is non clear is why he gave Shylock a anchor, that is to state a defence. It is here that the narrative of Roderigo Lopez meets the narrative of Shylock. It is written that there might hold been some sort of connexion between Shakespeare and Lopez. Get down that Shakespeare was good liked and reasonably affluent, he used many of the same services as the Royal Family, rather perchance Lopez & # 8217 ; medical services. It is besides documented that Shakespeare witnessed the test and hanging at Tyburn. It is my belief that Shakespeare is demoing Lopez through Shylock. Harmonizing to L. J. Friia, & # 8220 ; it is rather possible that he is stand foring friends of his, that were Jews & # 8221 ; ( interview ) . If this is true and if Shakespeare and Lopez were acquainted, so it is really good possible that Shakespeare is sympathising for Lopez through Shylock.

Although Shakespeare alternates between Venice and Belmont, his chief concern is for developing the scoundrel. When we return to Venice we are introduced to Shylock & # 8217 ; s servant, Launcelot Gobbo. Launcelot rambles on about the battle between his scruples and the monster. This scene serves one intent, to demo Launcelot altering Masterss, from Shylock to Bassanio, and it gives

Shakespeare the chance to demo the hate that the community feels for Shylock. Launcelot labels Shylock as “the really devil incarnation” ( II. two. 25. ) . When Launcelot’s male parent offers a present for Shylock Launcelot responds:

Launcelot

My maestro & # 8217 ; s a really Jew. Give

him a present? Give him halter! I am famished in his

service ; you may state every finger I have with my ribs

Father, I am glad you are come. Give me your present

to one maestro Bassanio, who so gives rare new liveries ( II. two. 101-105. ) .

Having Launcelot talk so ill about Shylock reinforces the audiences initial ideas of Shylock.

Even Shylocks & # 8217 ; ain girl, Jessica, speaks ailment of him, go forthing the audience with negative feelings. This secures our ain sick feelings toward Shylock. Usurer shows his greed by teaching Jessica to lock up all of his money while he is off. He knows that there will be a parade, and since he will be with Antonio, sealing the bond, he tells Jessica to & # 8220 ; lock up my doors & # 8221 ; ( II. six. 30. ) , & # 8220 ; halt my house & # 8217 ; s ears, I mean my casements & # 8221 ; ( II. six. 35. ) .

Shakespeare has efficaciously labeled Shylock as the scoundrel. However, Shakespeare continue to feed his dramatis personae with antisemitic comments. He has Solanio call Shylock & # 8220 ; The scoundrel Jew & # 8221 ; ( II. eight. 4. ) . Solanio besides provides us with an imitation of Shylock:

Solanio

& # 8220 ; My girl! O, my ducats! O, my girl!

Fled with a Christian! O, my ducats! O, my girl!

Justice! The jurisprudence! My ducats, and my girl!

A certain bag, two sealed bags of ducats,

Of dual ducats, stol & # 8217 ; n from me by my girl!

And gems, two rocks, two rich and cherished rocks,

Stol & # 8217 ; n by my girl! Justice! Find the miss!

She hath the rocks upon her, and the ducats. & # 8221 ; ( II. eight. 15-22. )

The inquiry here is what or who is Shylock concerned with? When analyzed we see that Shylock references his losing girl six times, whereas he mentions his losing ducats and rocks eight times. Shylock is more concerned with his money. Again, Shakespeare is merely constructing him up so that you dislike him, while in actuality we begin to experience regretful for him. Shakespeare no longer needs to construct Usurers character up, although he does with small slurs and mentions to the Satan. It is obvious, for whatever the grounds might be, that Shylock is the scoundrel. Shakespeare, as he did earlier sets Shylock for his most celebrated address. Solanio and Salerio continually badger Shylock about the bond and whether he will take the flesh or non.

Salerio

Why, I am certainly, if he forfeit, thou wilt non take

his flesh. What & # 8217 ; s that good for?

Usurer

To tease fish withal. If it will feed nil else,

it will feed my retaliation. He hath disgraced me, and

hindered me half a million, laughed at my losingss,

mocked at my additions, scorned my state, thwarted my

deals, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies ;

and what & # 8217 ; s his ground? I am a Jew. Hath non a Jew

eyes? Hath non a Jew custodies, variety meats, dimensions,

senses, fondnesss, passions? Fed with the same nutrient,

injury with the same arms, capable to the same dis-

simplicities, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled

by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If

you prick us, do we non shed blood? If you tickle us, do we

non laugh? If you poison us, do we non decease? And if you

incorrect us, shall we non avenge? If we are like you in

the remainder, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew incorrect

a Christian, what is his humbleness? Revenge. If a Chris-

tian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by

Christian illustration? Why retaliation. The villainousness you

taught me I will put to death, and it shall travel difficult but I will

better the direction ( III. I. 48-69. ) .

Salerio and Salanio respond with nil but silence. Shakespeare needs to convey an irrelevant character into the drama, a courier of Antonio, to go on. Shakespeare, ignored any antisemitism of the times, burying that his audience expected a spineless scoundrel of Shylock, and was the most tolerant of work forces alive, when he wrote Shylocks act three address. Any feelings of love for the Jew are replaced with feelings of misgiving and hatred. If he was portraying Roderigo Lopez, so he decided to copy his destiny for Shylock & # 8217 ; s. Lopez was treated below the belt in tribunal, and was hanged. Shylock & # 8217 ; s fate does non roll far from Lopez & # 8217 ; . Whatever anchor Shylock had in the first three Acts of the Apostless, is gone for the 4th and his name is non even mentioned in the fifth. Shakespeare takes Shylock to tribunal, and slayings him.

Shakspere opens the courtroom scene by holding the Duke refer to Shylock as & # 8220 ; A stony antagonist, an cold wretch & # 8221 ; ( IV. I. 4. ) , in instance we had forgotten how Venice cares for the Jew. Though Shakespeare took great strivings at doing Shylock plausible, he put small attempt into his defence during the tribunal hearing. Shylock & # 8217 ; s merely defence is the jurisprudence. No mention to faith, or how he dislikes Antonio, how he has been treated by his enemies. Yet Brown enlightens us when he tells us & # 8220 ; yet this [ Shylock ‘s silence ] is the agencies by which Shakespeare has drawn about all the audience & # 8217 ; s involvement to him one time more & # 8221 ; ( 197 ) . Shylock ne’er mentions how Antonio has called him Canis familiaris, and ptyalize upon him. Shylock intends on maintaining this affair businesslike, he dislikes Antonio because & # 8220 ; he lends out money gratis and brings down the rate of usance & # 8221 ; ( I. iii. 41-42 ) . Usurer does touch to the fact that, like the purchased slaves of Venice, he owns the lb of flesh he has demanded, and will make with it as he pleases. Portia waltzes into the courtroom dressed as a immature physician of Padua, learned beyond his old ages. She takes the instance from the custodies of the Duke, teases Shylock by presenting him his bond, and so kills him. She explains that Shylock is to take a lb of flesh, no more, no lupus erythematosus.

Portia

But in the cutting it if thou dost shed

one bead of Christian blood, thy lands and goods

Are by the Torahs of Venice confiscate

Unto the province of Venice ( IV. I. 107-110. ) .

Shylock, recognizing he has been foiled, so asks for three times the amount. Portia refuses his supplication, stating he has denied it in the unfastened tribunal, and hence must take it.

We can easy state there is no understanding between the audience and any of Shakespeare & # 8217 ; s comedic scoundrels. Then why is it so hard for any audience non to be sympathetic towards Shylock? The ground is simple, Shylock is the victim. It happens in two scenes, the loss of his girl, and in the courtroom. Shylock was treated like a 2nd category citizen, if a citizen at all. There was no respect for his motivations, or his personal feelings. Antonio slapped the punishment on as if he was simply directing Shylock to his room. The loss of individuality felt by Shylock does non even phase the presumed & # 8220 ; legal bird of Jove & # 8221 ; in the room, the Duke of Venice. Shylock is the victim for no other ground than he was treated below the belt. He was duped, mocked, and destroyed by a female, who would be ostracized every bit much as a Hebrew if she were caught in that room, & # 8220 ; and what & # 8217 ; s his ground? I am a Jew & # 8221 ; ( III. three. 55. ) .

& # 8220 ; A life of poorness and the outward credence of his girl & # 8217 ; s hubby and his enemies & # 8217 ; religion. & # 8221 ; ( Brown 197 ) . Shylock is dead. Portia has stabbed a knife into his dorsum, and Antonio turns it by coercing Shylock to go a Christian. Shylock was & # 8220 ; murdered & # 8221 ; in an unfastened courtroom for all to see, yet cipher will of all time state he was killed, instead that he committed self-destruction.

592

Barnet Sylvan. & # 8220 ; Introduction. & # 8221 ; The Merchant of Venice Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. , 1970. 1-10.

Brown, Russell John. & # 8220 ; The Realization of Shylock: A Theatrical Criticism. & # 8221 ; Major Literary Fictional characters: Shylock Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: St. Martins Press, 1961. 187-209.

Granville-Barker, Harley. & # 8220 ; The Merchant of Venice. & # 8221 ; Shakespeare Ed. Leonard F. Dean. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947. 37-71.

Palmer, John. & # 8220 ; Shylock. & # 8221 ; Major Literary Fictional characters: Shylock Ed. Harold Bloom. London: Macmillan, 1946. 53-61, 66-91.

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