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Merchant of Venice

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A villain is someone who has the desire to kill, inflict pain, or cause suffering on others. Villains are also defined by their circumstances and actions. In Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Shylock is portrayed as the villain from the beginning. He shows cruel and cold-hearted traits that rightfully earn him this title. Some of Shylock's actions can be connected to the loss of his ducats and daughter, but none of his decisions are justified.

When Antonio agrees to the bond, he knows that Shylock will fight for his pound of flesh if he fails to produce the three thousand ducts. When the 3 months are over Antonio does not have the ducats, so Shylock goes to court to receive his end of the contract. Even though Antonio begs for a compromise and Portia strongly suggests mercy, Shylock pushes for the pound of flesh he thinks he deserves. In the third act, Shylock says to Antonio:

I'll have my bond. I will not hear thee speak. I'll have my bond, and therefore speak no more. I'll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool to shake the head, relent and sigh, and yield to Christian intercessors. Follow not. I'll have no speaking. I will have my bond. (3.1.12-17)

Even when Bassanio offers over two times the original amount borrowed, Shylock refuses and won't take anything but the pound of flesh from Antonio. In the court, Bassanio says "Yes, here I tender it for him in the court--Yea, twice the sum. If that will not suffice, I will be bound to pay it ten times o'er, on forfeit of my hands, my head, my heart. If this will not suffice, it must appear that malice bears down truth" (4.1.198-203). Shylock knew that he had the right to one pound of Antonio's flesh, and he was going to stop at nothing to get it. He used the bond as the basis for his argument, but in the end, it was the bond that cost him his ducats and more importantly his religion.

Shylock's unique circumstances played with his emotions. Throughout this story, Shylock is looking for revenge. When Shylock is talking with Salarino and Salanio, he says "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" (3.1.60-63). He is driven by his hatred of all Christians and Antonio especially. Antonio abuses Shylock daily, which eventually leads to Shylock developing a deep disgust towards Antonio. When Shylock learns that Antonio's ships were lost, he said "I am very glad of it. I'll plague him. I'll torture him. I am glad of it" (3.1.98-99). He is also driven by the loss of the two most important things in his life: his ducats and his daughter. Salanio and Salarino mock Shylock when he says "'My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter, fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats! Justice, the law, my ducats, and my daughter! A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,



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