An Attitude Toward Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Even in the sixteenth century, people were treated with disrespect and unfairness. In Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is a Jewish money lender, and the play’s antagonist. Throughout the play, Shylock has his daughter run away, is treated with lack of respect for being Jewish, and has everything taken away from him. By the end of the play, Shylock does not receive fair and just treatment, despite how he has been treated.

The way Jessica treats her father, Shylock was not treated fairly and deserved to have better treatment. The audience never saw how Shylock really treated Jessica, so she may be just overreacting and saying he treated her poorly. This is unfair due to the fact that Shylock raised her for most of her life alone, and she repays him by running away and taking most of his ducats and possessions. While Jessica was away from Shylock, she sold his engagement ring, which was very important to Shylock. When he is taking to Tubal, he expresses how hurt he is by saying, “Out upon her! Thou tortures me! Tubal it was my turquoise; I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.” (III,I,113-116) Shylock was so hurt by Jessica’s actions because the ring was the only thing he has left of his wife, who passed away. Not only did Jessica run away, but she ran away with a Christian; something she knows Shylock would have never approved of. Shylock felt betrayed and heartbroken, to the point that he was shouting on the streets that his daughter, “Fled with a Christian!”(II,VIII,16) Due to the way Jessica had treated her father by taking his ducats, selling his engagement ring, and marrying a Christian, Shylock was treated unfairly by the end of the play.

Most of Shylock’s life, he has been treated with disrespect because he is a different religion. Christians spit on him due to the fact he is Jewish. Antonio spits on Shylock and calls him names in the beginning of the play, and when he asks Shylock for money he says he will still, “call thee so again, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.” (I,III,127-128) If Shylock were Catholic, he would not be treated this poorly. This play was written at a time when only the Jewish people were treated with lack of respect by Christians. Shylock never treated anyone badly before for being Christian, so that gives them no right to treat him poorly. By getting spat on and treated with disrespect, Shylock still did not receive fair treatment by the end of the play.

Shylock deserves to have just treatment considering he got everything taken away from him. At the end of the trial, Shylock did not receive Antonio’s penalty, even though Antonio promised he would take the punishment if he did not have the money in time. If this were the other way around and Shylock owed borrowed money from Antonio, the court would most likely be cheering Antonio to cut Shylock’s flesh, but since Shylock is Jewish, the court was trying to prevent Antonio from dying. For no reason other than Antonio getting revenge on Shylock, he had to be converted into Christianity by force. This is unfair because Shylock already lost half of his wealth and his daughter, and there was not a valid reason for Shylock to lose his religion also. Money meant a lot to Shylock, and he had to give half of his wealth away because of a law that did not apply to him. Portia says, “ If it be proved against an alien that by direct or indirect attempt he seek the life of any citizen the party ‘gainst the which he doth contrive shall seize one half his goods.” (IV,I,348-352) This is especially unfair because Shylock was born in Venice; he is not a foreign resident, and he lost half of his wealth over a law that is not directed towards Venetians.

Evidently, after being hurt by his daughter, disrespected by Christians, and lost everything at the end of the trial, Shylock was not treated fairly by the end of the play. Jessica ran away with a Christian and his ducats and sold Shylock’s engagement ring. Shylock got spat on and got called names by Christians. He did not even get his penalty from Antonio and had to convert to Christianity.

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