Merchant Of Venice And Shylockes Essay Research

Merchant Of Venice And Shylockes Essay, Research Paper In the play the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, the character Shylockеs portrayal changes a great deal. This manеs image goes from that of a cruel

Merchant Of Venice And Shylockes Essay, Research Paper

In the play the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, the character Shylockеs

portrayal changes a great deal. This manеs image goes from that of a cruel

and evil murder to a pitiful and helpless beggar of mercy. These circumstances

raise the question of what kind of man Shylock truly is, and whether or not the

reader should feel pity for him. There is no doubt that Shylock is a man with

faults, but there is evidence to suggest that his intentions though cruel and

heartless are the result of years of unjust provocation on the part of Antonio.

Shylock reveals a very dark side of himself once he has Antonio at his mercy.

Out of context, Shylockеs actions would be perceived by most people to be

savagely unmerciful. Shylock refuses twice the bond which is owed to him by

Antonio, and upon seeing his determination to have Antonioеs life, the

Duke asks him вHow shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?г (IV,I,

88) Shylockеs response to this is вWhat judgment shall I fear, doing

no wrong?г. (IV, I, 89) In this he is clearly saying that he believes his

actions to be completely justified. In order to make a reasonable argument on

Shylockеs behalf, a reader must see this exchange as more than the simple

collection of a debt. There is a bitter past and a history of problems between

Shylock and Antonio. Some of these problems become clear to the reader when

Shylock states to the reader: How like a fawning publican he looks! I hate him

for he is a Christian,But more for that in low simplicity He lends out money

gratis and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice.If I catch him

once upon the hip, I will feed the fat that ancient grudge I bear him. He hates

our sacred nation, and he rails, Even there where merchants most do congregate,

on me, my bargains, and my well won-thrift. Which he calls interest. Cursed be

my tribeIf I forgive him! (I,III,38-49) In other words he is accusing Antonio of

being a vicious anti Semite whose practice of loaning interest free money is a

great threat to his livelihood. This quote indicates that Shylockеs

motives against Antonio stem both from a desire to gain personal revenge as well

as revenge for the injustices of Christians suffered by the Jewish people.

Clearly Antonio and Shylockеs relationship is not on the best of terms

when Antonio comes to Shylock with a request for a loan of 3,000 ducats. In

response to this request, Shylock replies: You call me misbeliever, cutthroat

dog,And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, And all for use of that which is mine

own. Well then, it now appears you need my help. (I,III,109-112)He goes on to

say: вFair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last , You spurned me on such

a day, another time You call me dog, and for these courtesies Iеll lend

you thus much moneyг? (I,III,124-127) One would think that Shylock is at

this point able to look past these humiliating acts that Antonio had committed

against him, and is willing to lent him a helping hand in his time in need, but

rather than accept this help as a generous offering, Antonio replies:I am as

like to call thee so again, To spit on thee again, to spurn thee again. If thou

wilt lend this money, lend it not As to thy friends, for when did friendship

take A breed for barren metal of his friend?But it rather to thine enemy, Who if

he break, thou mayest with better face Exact the penalty. This is a very clear

case of provocation. Antonio knows exactly the risk he is taking, and rather

than attempt to foster any kind of peace with Shylock, he embraces hate and

encourages Shylock to do the same. Under these circumstances it would take a

very pious man to offer Antonio mercy. Shylockеs inability to find this

mercy for Antonio becomes forgivable. As a result Shylock becomes a man whom the

audience sympathizes with at the end of the play.