To what extent does Shakespeare intend the audience to sympathise with Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice"
"The Merchant of Venice" is a problem play, because it could be seen as a tragedy or a comedy. The contemporary audience would have mainly consisted of predominantly white males, they are an anti-semitic society. They would have seen this play as a comedy because of Shylocks defeat at the end of the play.
Shakespeare would have had to pander to the contemporary Christian audience, because they were arrogant and thought themselves as superior to Jews. He also would have had to do this because otherwise people would not and see his plays if they thought they were being laughed at by Shakespeare or the Jews.
Shylock could be sympathised with by the modern audience, because of all he loses in the play and how he doesn't get revenge on Antonio.
They also would sympathise with him when the Christians are racist towards him and also when Shylock says his "Hath not a Jew" speech, because the modern audience would see the Jews and Christians as equals.
How the audience perceive Shylock depends on who and how the play is directed, Shakespeare's plays do not have a lot of stage directions there for the director can perceive Shylock how they want and act it the same. The audience of the time would not have sympathized with Shylock mainly because of the way the play was directed.
Shakespeare includes slight criticisms towards the Christian audience, such as when the modern audience could see Antonio's love for Bassanio as more than friendship. To the contemporary Christian audience they would see Antonio as being very loving towards his friend Bassanio.
The modern audience see the description of Falconbridge as being a...