Imagine being a part of a religion that was discriminated solely for having different beliefs and lifestyles, but who worked just as hard as others to get by. In the play, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Antonio, a Christian merchant helps his beloved friend, Bassanio, by giving him three thousand ducats to woo Portia, the beautiful and intelligent heiress of Belmont.
Devoid of money at the moment, Antonio makes a risky move and asks Shylock, a Jewish usurer, for the needed ducats. However, Shylock manages to slip a bond within the deal. The bond states that if Antonio does not pay the three thousand ducats in three months, Shylock is permitted to cut off a pound of flesh from any part of his body. Unfortunately, Antonio’s ships do not come on time. As a result, Shylock pushes for justice and his bond. Being an outsider in Venice, Shylock is pushed to his limit by society’s oppression which in return, slowly transforms him into a heartless villain.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
Shylock is continuously mocked and harshly judged by Christians in the place where he worships and works. In Venice, Bassanio meets Shylock to sort out a deal for Bassanio to borrow three thousand ducats for three months under Antonio’s name. When Bassanio talks to Shylock about borrowing ducats, Antonio joins in the conversation. Antonio joining in makes Shylock lash out with strong feelings about Antonio’s wrong doings. Shylock then starts to list a couple incidents he goes through because of Antonio.
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft/ In the Rialto you have rated me/ About myMoneys and my usances./ Still have I borne it with a patient shrug/ (For suff'rance is the badge of all our tribe)./ You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,/ And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine,/ …. You spurned me such a day; another time/ You call'd me 'dog'; and for these courtesies/ I'll lend you thus much moneys"? (Act 1.
Scene 3. Lines 116-139.)Suffering through Antonio’s hateful and spiteful criticism, why would Shylock want to help Bassanio and Antonio in return? Shylock has every reason to hate them considering Antonio spits on his clothes, insults on his religion and calls him names. After all the barbaric comments and actions that Antonio does to him, Shylock still can disregard it like it never happened and still live life through these hardships.
When Antonio crosses the line,, Shylock cannot take it more and fights back with the feelings he is holding inside of him because of all the Christian hatred. Readers are enlightened that Jews are discriminated against, but they live and act the same. The difference is just that Christians and Jews have different beliefs and customs. Shylock is your average man just trying to make a good living by being a usurer, but yet is pulled down by Christians because their beliefs and religion say that Jewish usurers are unacceptable. Even though Shylock is also a human being, he is only seen as a Jew and not as a person, which makes it easy for people to judge him because of his religion but not his personality.
This makes Shylock an outcast in Venice, along with other Jews. Christians see Jews as outcasts just because of one thing, their religion. There are many differences between the beliefs of a Christian and Jew, but there are no differences of what they can accomplish, bodily systems, and personal feelings. The bond between Antonio and Shylock being set, all that was holding back Shylock from getting his pound of flesh from Antonio was time and the news that Antonio’s ship would all be wrecked. When walking around Venice, Shylock stumbles into Salerio and Salarino. Then, Salarino asks Shylock why is the pound of flesh good for him. Shylock responses with a justified answer for his desire of a pound of Antonio’s flesh.
It will feed nothing else,/ it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me and/….scorned at my nation/…. and what’s his reason because I am a Jew. Hath not/ a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimen-/ sions, senses,affections, passions?/ …. If you prick us do we not bleed? …. And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? ….
/. 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 villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. (Act 3. Scene 1.
Lines 52-72)All that Shylock wants is his revenge on Antonio for talking negatively about the religion he devotes his life to. Shylock is tired of Antonio for.