English Literature » Notes » Merchant of Venice: Shylock as a Villain

Merchant of Venice: Shylock as a Villain

We all have a mind of our own and with that we can make the choice to do good or evil. So it is not our enemies that lure us to evil ways. It is our own minds that decide to do so. In the play, The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, Shylock is a villain because in the play Shylock uses deception and his knowledge of Antonio to exact his revenge, Shylock also shows that anger, revenge and hate has clouded his mind and so he chooses to show no forgiveness or mercy towards Antonio. Finally Shylock manipulates others to get his way and to not raise further suspicions.

In the play Shylock and Antonio make a bond. Shylock is expecting Antonio would come to him for a favor sooner or later because Shylock knows Antonio lends money without interest. Proved when Shylock says to himself, “He lends out money gratis and brings down the rate of usance here with us in Venice. ”(I , iii 39-40) Shylock also feels that Antonio is quite desperate since he is coming to him for help. The deal was if Antonio doesn’t pay the ducats back in this amount on this day, Shylock gets to cut off a pound of Antonio’s flesh. Shylock knows that Antonio relies on his ships for income.

He also knows the risks and factors the ships encounter. Shylock uses Antonio’s desperation against him and he uses deception to throw in a fatal condition that Antonio agrees to. This is true when Shylock says: This kindness will I show. Go with me to a notary, seal me there. Your single bond, and, in a merry sport, If you repay me not on such a day, In such a place, such sum or sums as are Express’d in the condition, let the forfeit Be nominated for an equal pound Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken In what part of your body pleaseth me. I , iii 139-147) This truly proves that Shylock uses his knowledge of Antonio and deception to exact his revenge. The only way a villain can stay true to his plan of revenge, his mind must first be clouded with anger and hate. This is what happens to Shylock. Proved when Shylock says, “I’ll have my bond; I will not hear thee speak; I’ll have my bond, and therefore speak no more. ”(III, iii 12-13) At this point Shylock is just ready to explode. The amount of anger built up in Shylock makes him stay true to his plan of revenge against Antonio.

Only a villain would let anger, revenge, and hate cloud his mind. Since Shylocks mind is clouded with all those things, he can no longer make the easy choice of showing forgiveness and mercy towards Antonio. This is true when Shylock says, “My deeds upon my head! I crave the law, The penalty and forfeit of my bond. ” (IV, i 204-205)And when Portia says, “Be merciful: Take thrice thy money, bid me tear the bond. ”(IV, i 231-232) Therefore Shylock is a villain because he chose to let anger, revenge and hate cloud his mind and he also chose to show no sign of mercy or forgiveness.

The final reason that supports and proves that Shylock is a villain is because when Portia finds a loophole in Shylock’s bond with Antonio, Shylock realizes that his life is not worth risking for revenge. So Shylock chooses to take the money and to let Antonio go. Proved when Shylock says, “I take this offer then. Pay the bond thrice. And let the Christian go. ”(IV , i 316-317) Portia also tells Shylock the consequences of direct and indirect attempts to murder a Venetian citizen. The consequences are half of Shylocks wealth goes to Antonio and the other half goes to the government.

Antonio offers that his half goes to Lorenzo and Jessica. Also Shylock must become a Christian and when he dies all he posses goes to Lorenzo and Jessica. Shylock agrees with no protest or back talk. Shylock also says he is content and to send the deed and he will sign it. Proved when Shylock says, “I am content. ”(IV, i 390) and, “I pray you give me leave to go form hence; I am not well. Send the deed after me. And I will sign it. ”(IV, i 393-395) Shylock didn’t take the opportunity to harm Antonio legally. And Shylock takes Antonio’s offer without protest or back talk.

The only reason for this is Shylock not only realizes it’s no longer worth it when his life is at risk but he can have future opportunities to exact his revenge on Antonio without risking his life in the process. Shylock agrees to Antonio’s offer without protest or back talk and he also says he is content. This because he wants them to think that he will no longer plan any more evil plots and to make them think he is ok with what’s going on. These are the true reasons why a man that wants revenge would do such things when he faces this type of situation with this type of evil mind.

This says that Shylock is very manipulative and a true villain. A true villain uses his knowledge of his enemy to devise a plan of revenge. Villain will use deception to put their plan into action. For villains to stay true to their plan they must choose to let their mind be clouded with anger, revenge and hate. They must also choose to show no forgiveness or mercy. And when villains are caught they use manipulation to protect future evil plots. Therefore that is why Shylock is a villain in The Merchant of Venice because he does exactly that.

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