Examine the Extent to Which Shakespeare Presents Shylock as Either a Villain or Victim of the Society Which He Lives

Examine the extent to which Shakespeare presents shylock as either a villain or victim of the society which he lives

In the Merchant of Venice…Bassanio, a Venetian nobleman with financial difficulties, wishes to complete the hand of Portia, a wealthy heiress of Belmont in order to restore his fortune. He asks his friend Antonio, a successful Merchant of Venice, to loan him the money necessary to undertake such an attempt. Antonio agrees, but as all his assets are tied up at sea, he will have to use his credit in order to obtain the money for his friend. They go to shylock a Jewish money lender and enemy of Antonio’s. Shylock agrees to lend them 3000 ducats, but only if the loan is paid back in three months, if not a pound of flesh will be taken from shylock.

Examine the extent to which Shakespeare presents shylock as a villain or a victim of his society. However in order to understand Shylock’s actions, it is important to appreciate the society in which he lives. During the time that this play Merchant of Venice was written, Jews were viewed as the weaker race; they were hated for their biblical role in the crucifixion of Jesus and European countries from the twelfth century onwards had used this as pretext for expelling them from their shores.

An example of prejudice which Jews suffered during the time the play was written was that they were forbidden marrying a non-Jew and forbidden to seek converts.

In addition, Jews could not own land and often worked as jewellers and moneylenders. Though Jews lent money to the king, they provided a useful but disreputable service.

Therefore I intend to show that shylock is portrayed as victim because shylock being a Jew he would have been treated like all the other Jews beaten and made to where distinctive clothing. This shows that Jews were not as equal as Christians; Christians were shown has the dominant stronger race.

To some degree, shylock is shown to be a villain, for example when he agrees to lend...