Merchant Of Venice Shylock Character Analysis

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Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, although chiefly described as a comedy in consisting of light fantasy and courtly romance, has an underlying plot of considerable moral dimension in the development of Shylock’s character. The Romantic conception of Shylock as a victim-hero of the play has been satisfactorily demolished, as has been the other conception of him by Stoll as a ‘bottle-nosed’, ‘red haired’ and ‘red bearded’ grotesque villain. Modern criticism, however, tends to hover in and around the question of the play’s being a specimen anti-Semitic text. In context of this anti-Semitism, therefore, Shylock is portrayed as being more sinned against than sinning, with a pious, lovable and respectful character like Antonio, voiding his rheum upon the ‘Jewish Gabardine’ of Shylock, besides kicking and calling him a ‘cur’. It is therefore but natural that such a person who has been thus ill-treated will jump to any opportunity he can avail of, in order to revenge himself upon the person who has so ill-treated him. This anti-Semitic tradition of ‘Jew baiting’ finds further support in today’s era, because of the Holocaust or the mass genocide of Jews in the Nazi Germany. In fact, the very play of The Merchant of Venice, as evidence suggests, was frequently staged in the Nazi Germany for almost about thirty times between 1934 and 1939, as the justification for their hatred towards the Jews (qtd. in Watts 10). That Shakespeare probably had in mind Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta as

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