Topic:"Shylock emerges as a blood-thirsty and vinidictive man, crippled by his feelings of persecution and focused on his own interests." Do you agree?
'The Merchant Of Venice' focuses upon the relationship between Christians and Jews in Venice and the fictional Belmont. The anti- semitism and prejudice towards Jews are shown multiple times during the play, and at many times makes the Jewish Shylock look like a blood-thirsty and vindictive man, who is blinded by his hatred for the Christians,especially Antonio. Firstly, Shylock learns about his daughter Jessica's elopement and Antonio's wrecked ships, and he displays his cruel and malicious personality. Secondly, Shylock shows the audience his most unattractive side in the courtroom, where he is merciless and is obstructed by his bitterness towards Antonio. However, Shylock's actions may have justification, as Shylock is simply treating Antonio the way Antonio would treat him. Whether Shylock is a ruthless man, focusing only on his own interests or whether is he is just an innocent man, doing only what anybody else would do is discussed throughout the next paragraphs.
To begin with, Shylock shows how cruel and malicious he can be when he hears about Jessica's elopement and Antonio's wrecked ships. Jessica, Shylock's daughter, elopes with the Christian Lorenzo, and takes many valuables from Shylock. This obviously makes Shylock hurt and upset for many reasons: his daughter runs away from him, steals his money and worst of all, she leaves with a Christian. The fact that Solanio and Salarino help Jessica escape adds fuel to the already burning hatred Shylock feels towards the Christians, especially Antonio, who is bound to the contract that they have made. Tubal, a friend of Shylock's, informs Shylock of Antonio's wrecked ships and that Antonio will not be able to pay him back as he is broke. Shylock's inequity comes over him, as he takes advantage of the situation to exact revenge on the Christians. "I am very glad of it. I'll plague him. I'll torture him. I am glad of it." This scene and his words show how Shylock chooses to be vindictive and have blood on his hands instead of showing mercy. Shylock's role in this scene exposes him as a relentless person, focusing only on the prosecution and killing of Antonio.
In addition, Shylock shows his most unattractive side in the courtroom; he is merciless and blinded by his bitterness towards Antonio and his Christian friends. The Duke is the first to ask Shylock to show mercy. Shylock resists, answering that it will be against the laws of Venice to prevent him from collecting his bond. Here, Shylock insists on the bond and pound of flesh, even using the laws of Venice as blackmail towards the Duke. Shylock will do anything to ensure that Antonio suffers, and by Shylock as well. Portia enters and she also asks Shylock to show mercy, mentioning that mercy "blesseth him that gives, and him that takes" and also that mercy "'Tis mightiest in the mightiest." Portia is trying to argue that only strong men show mercy, and that Shylock would be doing a good deed if he does show mercy.
However, Shylock fixates viciously on trying to kill Antonio and taking his bond, that he blatantly refuses and declares that he will take responsibility for his own actions. This displays how Shylock just cares about the killing of Antonio, that he does not care how he will be judged, he only desires Antonio's death. During this scene, Shylock's true character and identity are revealed, one that is ruthless and vindictive. He is only wanting the blood of Antonio and is fuelled by his hostility towards him.
In contrast, many may view Shylock's actions as innocent and by no means vindictive nor blood-thirsty. Shylock's actions can also be viewed as nothing more than normal, as he is just simply receiving the penalty, and it is not Shylock's fault that Antonio cannot pay what he owes. Shylock argues that he is simply doing what any other Christian would if a Jew wronged them. Shylock says that "If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why revenge!" Shylock is mentioning here that he is only doing what a Christian would do if the roles were reversed. He also mentions "the villainy you teach me I shall execute". This displays Shylock's knowledge of what the Christians have done to him in the past, and he acknowledges that and he will do the same to them. These scenes may be the reasoning that Shylock is actually an innocent man, rather than a hurtful and vindictive one.
In conclusion, Shylock has no excuse, as he is as a ruthless and blood- thirsty man, and is his dark personality is shown multiple times throughout the play. The cruel and malicious intentions of his when he hears of Antonio's ships lead on to him not being able to show the slightest bit of mercy in the courtroom. However, Shylock can be viewed as an innocent man, with his actions based upon what the Christians would do if they were in his shoes. Therefore, Shylock is a vindictive and blood-thirsty man, who is crippled by his feelings of persecution and focused on his own interests.