lit essays rev - Merchant of Venice In William...

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Merchant of Venice In William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, the stereotypical and archetypal villain, is indeed a complex character and has suffered through demeaning accusations from the Antonio. Although being Anti-Semitic is against the social norms today, it was quite normal in Shakespeare's time. At the time, Jews were not given equal opportunities; they were unable to own land and had to wear distinguishing clothing. However, Shakespeare is able to gain audience’s sympathy through the adroit use of symbolism, monologues, unexpected asides, irony, and pathos in order for the audiences to understand characters and their motives beyond the stereotypes. Being a Jew in the Christian dominated society portrays him as humiliation to society and a victim of Christian prejudice. They had a great and active disdain for Jews. He was largely scorned for his religion and his moneylending behaviors. Despite such, Shakespeare made clear that Christians “hath disgraced” him and “laughed at his losses.” This depicts him as a helpless individual who is left with no choice but to be a suppressed moneylender in order to collect interest and live by. Shylock explained to Salanio and Salarino as to why he has the motives to take Antonio's flesh, making his famous monologue “'I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew's eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?” His monologue helped us come to the realization that Shylock’s actions have been stirred up by the negativities of the Christians around him, explaining that his actions are no different from the Christians’. Here, Shakespeare employed a genuine pathos and contrast between the melodramatic language that Shylock used and the insulting and mocking language used by the other two characters. This will help the audience sympathize with him as the audience can now understand why Shylock might have been the way he is or why he might seem like a villain the play— he has been trying to fight back. Human’s ability to revenge or get even with our adversaries is encrypted in us. When Shlock expresses “If you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” it shows the malicious game that Christians have been playing. Shylock stated that Antonio has called him a “misbeliever, cut-throat dog” who has “spit upon his Jewish gaberdine.” He believes that if Christians can seek revenge, then Jews will also have the ability to do so as well.

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