Merchant Of Venice / Shylock Essay, Research Paper
In the play The Merchant of Venice, the character of Shylock is really the inhuman monster that the audience may believe that he can be, although he is somewhat forced into his actions by the way that the Christians in the play treated him. Shakespeare compels the character to follow through on the debt owed to him because the Christians in the play have pushed him too far in the past. The debt then becomes a form of revenge for Shylock and thus his motivation to become a villain in The Merchant of Venice.
Throughout the play Shylock has been spit on, discriminated against, and thought to be an awful indecent creature because he is Jewish and not the Christina norm of the rest of the characters. And one of the real blows for him is when people told Shylock that they would do it all over again if they were given the chance. And a man, Antonio, who wants to be lent money from Shylock, is telling this to him.
Antonio. I am as like to call thee so again,
To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends, for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of hi friend?
But lend it rather to thine enemy,
Who if he break, thou mayst with better face
Exact the penalty. Act I.iii.130-136
And it is because if such treatment from Antonio, and the other Christians, that Shylock becomes so enraged that he is obsessed with finding a way to act out of revenge against them. This is something that can best be seen in the aside that Shylock has in Act I.iii. 41-51, where his true feelings are told.
Shylock. How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him for he is a Christian;
But more, for that in low simplicity
He lends money graits, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bare 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. Coursed be my tribe
If I forgive him!
Shylock here even speaks in terms of wrestling moves when he speaks of catching the Christians ?upon the hip?. And he is further motivated to be villainous by the way that the Christians do not allow him to collect interest on the loans that he has given out. Money is seen here as something that is incredibly important to Shylock, so much so that it outweighs the hatred that he feels because of the way he has been treated by the Christians. Shylock even goes as far as to curse the rest of ?his tribe?, or family, if he forgives the Christians for everything that they have done to him. Thus further proving that he is a villain and there is motivation for Shylock to act out towards the Christians but it does not mean that his actions are excused. The audience also knows that this is how Shylock truly feels because the entire thing is said as an aside, therefore his true feelings are being let out.
When Antonio says that he will pay Shylock back in a pound of flesh if he cannot return the money borrowed in full, it was Antonio?s idea and Shylock even remarked as to what value would the pound of flesh have to him. However, what Antonio does not know is the amount of hatred that Shylock has for him. The taking of the pound of flesh would thus mean that Antonio would die, and Shylock would be able to have his revenge against the Christians. This is the chance that he has been waiting for all of his life.
Shylock?s own daughter, Jessica, is even seen as a monetary gain for him. Although this is something that was also taken away from him. Shylock lost his daughter when she ran off and married a Christian man who was not someone as wealthy as Shylock had planned on his daughter marring.
Shylock. I am bid forth to supper, Jessica.
There are my keys. But wherefore should I go?
I am not bid for love, they flatter me,
But yet I?ll go in hate, to feed upon
The prodigal Christian. Jessica my girl,
Look to my house. I am right loath to go;
There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest,
For I did dream of money-bags to-night. Act II.v.11-18
Lorenzo, Jessica?s new husband, also had her convert to Christianity, thus further enraging her father and giving him more motivation for the revenge against the Christians. It is again the call for Shylock to take in more vengeful feelings and act out as the villain in the play. The way that Shylock feels about Jessica as monetary gain can be seen again in Act II.viii.15-22, where he sees her and money as one in the same, as Solanio retells what Shylock was uttering in the streets.
?My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
Fled with a Christian! O my Christina ducats!
Justice! the law! my ducats, and my daughter!
A sealed bag, two sealed bag of ducats,
Of double ducats, stol?n from me by my daughter!
And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones,
Stol?n by my daughter! Justice! find the girl, she hath the stones upon her, and the ducats.?
Shylock is even given the chance in court to take the money that is owed to him by Antonio and forget about the pound of flesh that the contract calls for Antonio to give to him. However, it is to late, and Shylock has become obsessed with revenge upon any Christian that he can and no loner cares about the money. He has become overtaken with the vendetta that he has with the Christians and wants to take the chance to claim the life of one of them, or at least as he sees the situation. And in his mind this is all something that is legal because of the contract that was signed by both men when the loan was given out. This all takes place in the courtroom scene where Portia was in disguise as the judge and presented Shylock time and time again with the chance to show mercy to Antonio, and still receive three times the money that was owed to him.
Portia. Why, this bond is forfeit,
And lawfully by this the Jew may claim
A pound of flesh, to be cut off
Nearest the merchant?s heart. Be merciful,
Take thrice thy money, bid me tear the bond. IV.i.230-234
It is not until after Shylock denies Portia?s plea for mercy that the loopholes in the contract are told to him. And unlike what he had believed to be a legal way of killing a Christian, Shylock cannot and forces consequences under the law for the plotting of killing Antonio. All of Shylock?s plans for revenge blowup in his face because he loses his money, cannot get revenge on Antonio, and is forced to become a Christian.
These were all instances showing that Shylock was the inhuman monster and villain in the play. While in the beginning he was able to at least care for money, in the end his need to take revenge upon the Christians even pushed the greed aside and took control of Shylock?s life. He was given the chance to show mercy to those that wronged him and was unable to do so because of his blind mission of revenge. At in the end it is that same quest for revenge that proves him to be villainous and leaves him with nothing at all, only a life in Christianity, which he is to loath.
A 3 1/2 page paper on Shylock as a villan in the play