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Shylock: A Character Sketch

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Alexandra Brillinger

on 12 January 2015

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Transcript of Shylock: A Character Sketch

Shylock: A Character Sketch
Shylock is one of the most memorable characters in The Merchant of Venice. He is the play’s antagonist. In the play Shylock has many different roles. He is the obstacle, the man who stands in the way of his daughters relationship (Jessica and Lorenzo). He is the man who wants revenge (on the Christians) and he is the man that attempts to murder a Christian (Antonio). Shylock is meant to be seen as both the villain and the victim. We sympathize with him because we feel compassion. But we also see him as a vile man attempting to commit murder to satisfy his need for revenge.
Conflicts
In they play the Christians and the Jews discriminate each other for their religious beliefs. This results in the conflict between Antonio and Shylock to begin with. The Jews are seen as inferior compared to the Christians. The main plot begins when Antonio asks Shylock, a usurer, to give him a loan. This is so that Antonio's best friend Bassanio can try to claim the heart of a rich heiress. Unfortunately, when they arrange the bond Antonio makes a life threating deal with Shylock. If Shylock isn't paid back on time, he will cut off a pound of Antonio's flesh from wherever he please.
Appearance
-He is an older widowed man with a beard.

-He wears a jewish gaberdine.

-Tradition clothes from that time.

Social Standing
-Anti-semitism creates a low social standing for Shylock.

-Especially because he is a moneylender. (Collecting profit from money lending is seen as a sin in the eyes of Christians)

-He is wealthy because of his job.

-Christians believed Jews were inferior.
Definitions of relevant words
Prejudice-
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.
-Jewish people mainly lived in Rome, Venice, Padua, Mantua, Florence, and somewhat later in Livorno (Leghorn).

-During the time of the renaissance the Jews were encouraged to move to Italian cities. This is because they provided valuable financial services.

-This explains Shylock being a successful usurer.

http://www.ushmm.org/confront-antisemitism/european-antisemitism-from-its-origins-to-the-holocaust
"For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe. You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, And all for use of that which is mine own. Well then, it now appears you need my help: Go to, then; you come to me, and you say 'Shylock, we would have moneys:' you say so; You, that did void your rheum upon my beard And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur Over your threshold: moneys is your suit What should I say to you? Should I not say 'Hath a dog money? is it possible A cur can lend three thousand ducats?' Or Shall I bend low and in a bondman's key, With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this; 'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;You spurn'd me such a day; another time You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies I'll lend you thus much moneys'?"
History
 "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed withthe same food, hurt with the same weapons, subjectto the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. 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. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."
(III.i.54-68)
(I.iii.106-125)
"Thou call'dst me dog before thou hadst a cause; But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs: The duke shall grant me justice."
(III.iii.6-8)
Speaker: Shylock
In the begining of this quote Shylock reminds the Venetians that all people, even those who are part of a minority, are human. As a Jew, Shylock believes he is no different than a Christian. This is represented when Shylock explains that he feels the same pains and comforts and emotions as a Christian. Shylock delivers a monologue that at first makes us sympathize with him. But as he continues on he promises to take revenge and behave vile and immoral. The speech brings up many emotions whether you are watching it or reading it.

In this quote Shylock is mocking the Chritians. They disgrace him as a human being and in return want him to lend them money. They do not respect Shylock as a man, they call him names and spit upon him.This makes him appear less human in the Christian eye. Shylock is questioning the Christians. They want nothing to do with him,yet when they need something Shylock can only provide, they act as if they never disrespected his beliefs or occupation.
In this quote Shylock is warning Antonio. Shylock prepares to take revenge on him because he did not stick to the bond. Therefore Shylock cautions Antonio to beware of what Shylock will do to get revenge. Which is bringing him to court to have justice.
Speaker: Shylock
Speaker: Shylock
Shylocks Role In The Play
Vengeance- infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by another who has been harmed by that person; violent revenge:
Anti-semitism- discrimination against or prejudice or hostility toward Jews.
Discussion Questions
Do you think being forced to change your religion is better or worse then death?
Do you think that Shylock is a villain or victim? and why?
The Christians look down upon the Jews. Do you think this is influencial in Shylocks behaviour in the play?
After Jessica runs away and elopes with Lorenzo Christian this makes it all worse. Shylock now has an even bigger need for revenge.
Seven Devils can be interpreted many different ways. But this song can relate to our topic because it relates to someone who is wanting to get revenge on a Christian.
"Holy water cannot help you now
A thousand armies couldn't keep me out
I don't want your money
I don't want your crown
See I have to burn your kingdom down"
These lyrics represent Shylock and the way he feels. He doesn't want any amount of money when in court. He wants revenge on the christians.
http://www.ushmm.org/confront-antisemitism/antisemitism-the-longest-hatred

http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/merchant/summary.html

www.articlemyriad.com/character-analysis-shylock-merchant-venice/

Sources
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