Shylock – A Victim Often times, victims

 

Shylock – A Victim

            Often
times, victims and villains can be seen as one of the same, even though they
are not. In the play, The Merchant of
Venice, the character of Shylock is treated like a villain, with villain
qualities, even though he is ultimately a victim. He is a victim because of how
he is treated by Antonio, unfairly treated due to his religion and because he
lost more than any other character.

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            To
start with, Shylock is shown to have a rough history with Antonio. There are
many scenes in the play with Antonio often treating him horribly. In the
beginning of the book, when Shylock is telling Antonio all the names he was
called, Antonio replies, “I am as like to call thee so again, so spet on thee
again, to spurn thee too” (1.3, 126-127). Another example is when is giving his
famous “I am a Jew” speech, he says,
“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends,
heated mine enemies” (3.1, 50-53). Again, this quotation shows Antonio being
cruel to Shylock. The final example is during the scene where Antonio and
Solanio are in the jail cell, Antonio admits to often giving money to people
who were unable to pay him back, he says, “I oft delivered from his forfeitures
many that have at times made moan to me. Therefore he hates me” (4.1, 22-24).
Once again, this quotation shows Antonio showing cruelty towards Shylock.

            Additionally,
Shylock is often treated horrendously because he is a Jew. During his “I am a Jew” speech, Shylock says, “If a
Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a
Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.” (3.1,
63-66). This quotation is an example of Shylock expressing his unhappiness of
how himself, and Jews in general are often treated by Christians. Towards the
end of the scene where Shylock and Antonio make the deal of three thousand
ducats, Antonio says “Hie thee, gentle Jew. The Hebrew will turn Christian. He
grows kind” (1.3, 174-175). This shows how Antonio cannot fathom the
possibility that Shylock, who is a Jew, is acting nicely. In addition, at the
end of the play, Shylock is forced out of his own religion. During the court
scene, when Antonio is showing mercy towards Shylock, he asks him two favor.
One of these favors is to immediately become a Christian, he says, “He
presently become a Christian” (4.1, 385). Once again, this proves how Shylock
is badly treated as a Jew.

            Lastly,
Shylock is a victim because he lost the most. Throughout the entire play,
Shylock is often losing. To start with, Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, runs away
with Lorenzo and converts to Christianity because she is not happy in Shylock’s
home. As Launcelot is going to leave, Jessica says, “I am sorry thou wilt leave
my father so. Our house is hell, and thou, a merry devil, didst rob it of some
taste of tediousness. But fare thee well” (2.3, 1-4). Shylock also loses his
pound of flesh from Antonio because he cannot shed any blood at all or he will
lose everything he has, as Portia re-reads the contract that Shylock and
Antonio signed, she says, “This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood. The
words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh.’ Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound
of flesh, but in the cutting it if thou dost shed one drop of Christian blood,
thy lands and goods are by the laws of Venice confiscate Unto the state of
Venice” (4.1, 304-310). The final example is also during the court scene, when
Antonio is showing mercy to Shylock on court, he asks of two things, one of
these two things are to make a will in the court saying that all his property
goes to his son-in-law, Lorenzo, and to his daughter, Jessica. Both are people
who went behind his back, took his money, and left. Antonio says, “He do record
a gift here in the court, of all he dies possessed, unto his son Lorenzo and
his daughter” (4.1, 386-388). This quotation shows again, that Shylock loses
things in the play.

            In
conclusion, Shylock is ultimately depicted as a victim over a villain many
times. The main points of him being a victim are how he was treated by Antonio,
how he was treated as a Jew and the amount he loses throughout the play. A
villain can only play the victim so well.