The mercheant of venice - is shylock the victim or vilian of the play?

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GCSE English coursework.

Merchant of Venice: - Is Shylock a victim or villain of the play?

The merchant of Venice is a tragic-comedy play written by William Shakespeare in the Elizabethan period. It was set in Venice in the late 15th century. One of the main characters of the play is Shylock, who was a Jew.

Throughout his five scenes in the play he is looked down upon, betrayed, deserted, punished and humiliated by Christian society. His faith and his way of making a living are the Christians only justification for this treatment. Shylock is trying to make a living and survive in a country that despises and alienates him. In this period the Christians hated the Jews, because of their profession in lending money, which the Christians by religion were unable to do. The Jews were often forbidden to own land or engage in trade in England so the only occupation open to them was money lending, which they exploited fully.

One of Shylocks first few lines in the play is,

"Three thousand ducats for three months, and

Antonio bound."

This can be seen in two ways; as a man making a living at one of the very few occupations open to him, or a greedy cold materialistic man. With the words that he uses and the way he says it he seems more like a greedy cold materialistic man. From what he says we can also see how badly he hates Christians and how he wants revenge on Antonio.

Before the plot even starts, Shylock is condemned for being a Jew and a moneylender. Shylocks first appearance in Merchant of Venice is act 1 scene 3 where Bassanio is talking to Antonio about taking out a loan on his behalf. Shylock seems jovial in this first...