What I’ve learned from 30 years of teaching The Merchant of Venice

However, the discrimination took its toll on Shylock, until he began to hate all Christians.

Shylock's job is as a moneylender.

Kean and Irving presented a Shylock justified in wanting his revenge; Adler's Shylock evolved over the years he played the role, first as a stock Shakespearean villain, then as a man whose better nature was overcome by a desire for revenge, and finally as a man who operated not from revenge but from pride. In a 1902 interview with magazine, Adler pointed out that Shylock is a wealthy man, "rich enough to forego the interest on three thousand ducats" and that Antonio is "far from the chivalrous gentleman he is made to appear. He has insulted the Jew and spat on him, yet he comes with hypocritical politeness to borrow money of him." Shylock's fatal flaw is to depend on the law, but "would he not walk out of that courtroom head erect, the very apotheosis of defiant hatred and scorn?"[6]

They seek a loan from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender in Antonio’s name.

The scene opens with a conversation between Basanio and Shylock.

Tied in with his anti-Semitism is an apparent supremacy Antonio feels over Shylock, expressed in his ruthlessly complacent expression of superiority,


I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too; [I.

One of which is for Shylock’s daughter to elope with Lorenzo, a Christian....

What was clear was that these students felt sympathy for Shylock—and more than that, they identified with him to the point that they supported his case. And here is where things began to get complicated. Because now the most powerful speech in the play, according to my students, was Shylock’s in Act IV, scene I, that deals first with the hypocrisy of his antagonists and then with the justice of his claim:

Shylock is an older, Jewish money lender who has one daughter named Jessica.


Shylock in Merchant of Venice :: Merchant Venice Essays

Teaching the play in recent years, I also began concentrating discussion on Portia and Antonio. Was Portia’s subjection to her dead father’s will and her need to dress as a man in order to argue the case connected to her “meanness”—her stripping Shylock of his money and forcing him to convert? As for Antonio, what was to be construed from his confused feelings at the beginning of the play?

30/01/2018 · Shylock in Merchant of Venice ..

Even if Shakespeare did not intend the play to be read this way, the fact that it retains its power on stage for audiences who may perceive its central conflicts in radically different terms is an illustration of the subtlety of Shakespeare's characterizations.

Shylock Merchant of Venice – Sample Essays - New York essay

The initial notion that my job had become easy, since I no longer had to defend Shylock, began to change as I realized that the all-encompassing, reflexive sympathy my students felt for him was perhaps even more insidiously wrong than the earlier prejudice toward him. In an odd reversal, I, the Jewish teacher, now be­came the only person in the classroom to argue that Shylock was still a villain, despite the abuse he had suffered, and that his stubborn call for a pound of flesh was the emblem of his villainy.

The Merchant Of Venice - Shylock: Villain Or Victim

Further duplicity on Shylock's part is seen in the fact that he himself acts as if he does not take the pound of flesh seriously, when he imparts to Antonio the perfectly reasonable contention, "If he should break this day, what should I gain?" [I.

Shylock in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice Essay

One reason for this interpretation is that Shylock's painful status in Venetian society is emphasised. To some critics, Shylock's celebrated "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech (see above) redeems him and even makes him into something of a tragic figure. In the speech, Shylock argues that he is no different from the Christian characters. Detractors note that Shylock ends the speech with a tone of revenge: "if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" However, those who see the speech as sympathetic point out that Shylock says he learned the desire for revenge from the Christian characters: "If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge! The villainy you teach me I will execute. It will go hard, but I will better the instruction."