Merchant of Venice – Essay Planning

Notes from class.

·      Shylock is a victim when

·      His daughter runs off with the Christians

·      We see him as a victim when he says

·      “Oh my daughter, fled with a Christian

·      This helps the audience to see him as a victim because

·      His only family has betrayed him and he is left alone.

·      The audience also sees him as a victim when

·      The Christians spit on him.

·      “you call me dog and spit on my Jewish gabardine”

·      Show he is being badly treated because he is Jewish – racism? Prejudice?

·      We feel sympathy for Shylock when the Court takes all his goods.

·      “Nay, take all… Thou doth take my house when thou takest the prop that doth support my house”

·      If the Christians had not treated him so badly, he would not have tried to take them to court

New Para

·      Shylock is a villain when

·      He attempts to cut his pound of flesh from Antonio

·      “I shall have my bond”

·      This is cruel because it will mean Antonio is killed

·      This is part of Shylock’s plan – his intention is to have revenge

·      Also a villain when he locks Jessica in

·      “Clamber not ye into the casements to gaze on Christian faces”

·      He is denying Jessica any freedom – odd when she is his own daughter.

·      The first act of cruelty is when he agrees the bond with Antonio

·      “for a pound of your fair flesh”

·      This is cruel because Shylock knows it will mean Antonio’s death


1. State whether you think he is a victim, villain, or both.

2. Briefly give your main reasons for thinking this.

3. Explain that this ambiguity is what makes Shylock such a memorable character. 

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