April 26, 2017
Shylock: The True Victim
Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person.” This means that people do not naturally hate each other, but develop hatred over time, learning, and experience. Sometimes this hatred affects the hated person so much that it develops into villainy. Throughout history, in fiction or real life, many significant people who were once ordinary turned evil because of hatred. In the play, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, a complex character named Shylock is an example of this. Shylock is a Jewish man who is portrayed to be rude and bitter, who also hates every Christian. But as the play unravels, it is revealed that he is a hateful and villainous man, only because he experienced so much hatred and villainy himself. It is seen that Shylock faces religious discrimination for the reason that he is a Jew. It is shown that he is constantly insulted by his neighbours including the protagonist, Antonio. Also, he is stolen of his belongings that are valuable to him. But since he tries to commit villainous actions, such as seeking revenge onto the protagonist, he is recognized as the villain of the play, but he is actually the victim.
Throughout the play, Shylock endlessly faces discrimination for the reason that he is not a Christian but a Jew. For instance, Antonio harasses Shylock many times. When expressing his anger for Antonio, Shylock says Antonio, “hath disgraced me...laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation...—and what’s his reason? I am a Jew” (Shakespeare 3.1. 53-57). Shylock reveals that Antonio disrespects him and his money savings, and mocks his religious beliefs. This shows how unpleasant Christians treat Shylock and the discrimination against him. Moreover, Antonio is the real villain because he harasses Shylock for the reason of having different religions. Another example, is that they do not treat him like he is human. Shylock says the famous quote, “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? … If you prick us, do we not bleed” (3.1. 57-63). Shylock feels that the Christians treat Jews like they are less than human. He feels that the Christians do not know that he is human, that he does have feelings, and that he can get hurt. In short, Shylock is a victim because he is harassed and treated like he is less than human for his religion.
Furthermore, many characters humiliate and insult Shylock constantly. First of all, Antonio thinks very lowly of Shylock and shows it. When Antonio asks Shylock for a loan, Shylock says that Antonio called him a “cutthroat dog” (1.3. 121). Shylock is a victim of verbal abuse since he...