The Merchant Of Venice: Shylock - Victim Or Villain



In 1594 the Earl of Essex, an English Nobleman who lived during the
Elizabethan period in England, was actively involved in the persecution and
trials of Roderigo Lopez. Lopez was a Jew of Portuguese descent, who was
wrongly accused of attempting to poison the Queen of England, for reasons never
fully explained. Lopez, being the Queen's royal physician, was in no position
to defend himself once he was accused. Essex, who provided the evidence also
presided over the trial of Lopez, leaving Lopez little chance of survival. The
innocent Jew was hanged, drawn, and quartered in Tyburn, England for all to
witness.
The story of Roderigo Lopez is similar to the story of Shylock, ...

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we must understand that it was as easy for him
to make a Jewish man the villain as it would be for us to make a Nazi the
villain. According to Sylvan Barnet "The Merchant of Venice [shows] the
broad outline of a comedy (not merely a play with jests, but a play that ends
happily). . . the villain in the comedy must be entirely villainous, or, rather,
comically villainous; he cannot for a moment gain the audience's sympathy" (1).
Shylock has often been portrayed as the villain in The Merchant of Venice. From
being more concerned with his ducats rather than his daughter, to demanding his
pound of flesh, Shylock fits perfectly into the mold of the villain. However,
with reference to Barnet's comment "he cannot for a moment gain the audience's
sympathy" (1), Shylock oversteps the boundaries of his villainous character.
The audience cannot and would not have rooted for Shylock during Shakespeare's
lifetime, yet, now we do. Shylock is merely a victim of anti-Semitism.
Although ...

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is good for the three thousand ducats. Then, as any
good businessman would do, he considers how Antonio, a merchant, has all of his
ships at sea. He talks of the dangers of sea and how Antonio may not get all of
his ships back, if so, he will not have the money. It is here that we begin to
get a glimpse of Shylocks' evilness. "The man is, not withstanding, sufficient.
Three thousand ducats--I think I may take his bond" (I. i. 25-26.). Shylock
realizes his opportunity, he can profit from this venture. Shakespeare begins
to create his villain, we have no choice but to hate this man. Shakespeare
continues to build his villain by giving Shylock an aside in which he reveals
his ...

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Added: 10/29/2004 09:09:10 PM
Category: Arts
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2695
Pages: 10

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