"The Merchant of Venice" What is Shylock shown as? Why is he made to seem this way? Is he good or Evil?

Essay by little_crudenB+, June 2003

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In William Shakespeare's play, "The Merchant Of Venice", the character of Shylock is portrayed mainly as an evil Jew. He is based on the typical stereotype of a Jew from Shakespeare's time. They were despised and mocked in most places. However at times Shylock can be pitied.

Shylock's evil is emphasised with the repetition of "the evil Jew", which is said by several other characters throughout the play. This is well used as it constantly reminds us of the "evil Jew" all the way through the play.

From the commencement of the play Shylock's strong disgust of Antonio is shown. We are first told of this hatred when Shylock says, "I hate him for he is a Christian."

(I iii) L39). This unambiguous and straightforward statement not only tells us that Shylock hates Antonio but it simply tells us the main motive, of many, for his hatred of Antonio. I feel that Shylock cannot be blamed for his strong loathing towards Antonio.

I think this because Shylock says:

"Fair sir, you spat on me on Wednesday last,

You spurned me such a day, another time

You called me dog; and for these courtesies

I'll lend you thus much moneys'?"

(I iii) L123-126)

This dialogue clearly states, with the use of a simile, the reasons why Shylock feels so much disgust towards Antonio.

When Shylock is introduced into the play, Antonio is attempting to borrow money from Shylock to allow his friend Bassanio to go to Belmont and try to win Portia's hand in marriage. Bassanio requires "Three thousand ducats".

Antonio intends to repay Shylock with the money from his fleets of ships.

"he hath

an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies; I

understand moreover upon the Rialto, he hath a

third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and...