A discussion of Shylock's portrayal in the court scene and the rest of the play, in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Essay by zooplankton September 2004

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In this scene, Shylock is portrayed as a hateful man. He wishes death on Antonio, preferring to accept a "weight of carrion flesh" to three thousand ducats. Previously, in Venice, he wished that his "daughter were dead at [his] foot", and that his "jewels [were] in her ear".

He is also portrayed as an unmerciful person. After Portia asks him to "render the deeds of mercy", he replies that he is not compelled to do so, and refuses to. Earlier in the play, he is unmerciful to his daughter, cursing her for converting to Christianity. He wishes that she were "hearsed at [his] foot" and "the ducats in her coffin".

Furthermore, he is presented as a hypocrite. While he refuses to show mercy to Antonio, he begs for mercy, falling upon his knees when Portia reveals her trump card, the vital flaw in his argument.

He is also seen as materialistic and greedy.

He seems concerned about his money, as shown from the way he demands for Portia to "give him his principal, and let [him] go" after Portia reveals the flaw in the bond. (That not one drop of Christian blood could be shed, while shedding blood would be inevitable in cutting the flesh) This money-mindedness of his is also shown when he is more concerned about his ducats than his daughter after she ran away with his money. He talks endlessly about his "diamond gone that cost him two thousand ducats in Frankfort", his "precious, precious jewels", hardly sad at the loss of his daughter.

He is pictured as crafty and opportunistic. He makes use of his power to decide Antonio's fate as he has sworn on "[his] holy Sabbath" to have the "forfeiture of [his] bond". Earlier in the play, he makes use of...