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Shylock Essay question Merchant of Venice

How is Shylock presented at different points in the play? [25 marks]
Shylock is the main antagonist in the Merchant of Venice shown by his desire to get revenge on ‘The Merchant’ who is Antonio. Throughout the play Shylock is mistreated by Christians due to Shylock being Jewish and Antonio being Christians, showing the audience the religious divide between the two. Shylock is also created to be an opportunist and intelligent character in the play.

During act 1 scene 3, Shylock is introduced as the major antagonist and reveals his hatred towards Antonio due to the religious divide between them and the racism directed at Shylock, “I hate him for he is a Christian”, Shylock says this in his aside to make it clear the audience he is the antagonist and Shakespeare uses of soliloquies and asides are for only heroes and villains to make their intentions clear to the audience . This carries on when Shylock criticises Antonio for not following Jesus’ teachings as he was taught to “neither lend nor borrow upon advantage”, this scene also highlights the historical feud between the two, where Antonio “lends out money gratis” threatening Shylock’s occupation as a money lender. Antonio lending out money “gratis” links to the theme of religious divide where Christians are portrayed to be giving and generous whereas Jews are greedy and selfish. Up to this point in the play, the audience was inclined to pigeonhole Shylock as the villain but now Shakespeare has started to justify Shylock’s reasoning to be the villain within his speech Antonio is now created to be the villain for modern audiences and Shylock to be the victim creating sympathy for him, “You call me misbeliever, cut throat dog and spit upon my Jewish gaberdine”, Shakespeare’s mention of the “Jewish Gaberdine” symbolises Shylock’s Identity and religion by spitting upon it emphasises the disregard and degradation towards Jews. Shakespeare’s presentation of Shylock being the victim toys with their feelings as the audience are unsure whether he is really portrayed to be the antagonist of the play.
Could someone tell me on where to improve on this question, I've only done the first paragraph and introduction. But by knowing where I could improve will help me later on, my English lit is tommorow and I really will appreciate any help. Thank you!
(edited 1 month ago)

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