The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespear Jennifer McLaren
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? If you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
This extract is taken from Act 3 Scene 1 of “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespear. The speech above is Shylock trying to tell Antonio that just because he is a Jew doesn’t mean he is any different from him. In my essay I plan to discuss to what extent we feel sympathy for Shylock, There is complicated evidence
This drama by William Shakespear is about a man named Antonio who is a merchant; he is a successful seller of luxury goods but he is depressed. His good friend Bassanio has a plan but needs money and so he turns to Antonio to fund him. Antonio’s money is all in investments and he cannot raise the cash alone. Antonio asked Shylock who is a Jewish money lender to lend him money for Bassanio. If Antonio does not get the money back to Shylock, He may claim a pound of his flesh. In the final act Shylock is about to claim his pound of flesh but cannot because of Portia (who is disguised as a man). Portia brings up the bond in detail and finally denies Shylock his pound of flesh.
In Act 1 scene 3 Shylock agrees to lend Antonio the money with the forfeit of the bond, this is what Shylock states when he is approached.
“You call me misbeliever, cut throat of dog. And you spit upon my Jewish gaberde and for use of that which is my own.
In this quote Shylock is basically saying after everything Antonio has done to him he now expects him to lend him money. He accepts the offer in forfeit of the bond. This makes me feel sympathy for Shylock because of the way Antonio has treated him. But Shylock then asked for a pound of flesh if Antonio fails to return the money. I was horrified to hear such a cruel forfeit from Shylock, How could a man ask for such a cruel and non-humane punishment. Antonio’s behaviour had being despicable to Shylock, But Antonio does not deserve the penalty of death.
In Act 2 Scene 6 Jessica reveals that she will be running away with Lorenzo.
“I will make the fast doors and gild myself with some more ducats, and be with you straight”
In this extract Jessica promises to run away with Lorenzo who is a Christian. And plans to take Shylock’s fortune with her. This makes me feel sympathy for Shylock because he cannot work and the only way he can make money is by lending out loans and demanding interest, And by Jessica taking Shylocks money he is unable to give out loans.
In Act 3 Scene 2 Shylock discovers that Jessica (his daughter) has stolen his ring along with taking his ducats and also running away with a Christian
“Out upon her! Thou torturest me, tubal; it was my turquoise; I had it Leah when I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for wilderness of Monkeys.
In this quote Shylock is outraged because his daughter stole and sold the ring he gave to his wife before she died for a monkey. He says he would have never sold the ring for loads of Monkeys. This makes me feel sympathy for Shylock because the ring meant a lot to him and his daughter stole it and sold it for Monkeys. It really shows that Shylock has feelings and that we do not know what he is like yet, but this reveals that he is not all bad and he does care about things.
In Act 3 Scene 2 Antonio sends a letter to Bassanio to confirm that’s all his ships have been miscarried.
“Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried my creditors grow cruel my estate is very low”
In this quote Antonio’s is basically explaining to Bassanio in the letter all his fortune has being lost and he must let the Jew (Shylock) claim his bond.
In Act 3 Scene 3 in the statement by Shylock he threatens to claim the bond from Antonio.
“I’ll have my bond, speak not against my bond; I have sworn on oath that I will claim my bond”
In this quote I have mixed feelings towards Shylock he is right in claiming his bond but for it to be such a cruel punishment I do not understand, Yes Antonio has been disrespectful towards Shylock because he is a Jew but no one deserves such a harsh penalty.
In conclusion I think Shylock is a very balanced character. I have answered my question to what extent can we sympathise with the character of Shylock in William Shakespear “The Merchant of Venice”. Antonio treated him in a bad manner which no human should be treated like just because of their religion so therefore Shylock does deserve sympathy reason being that he was no respected by Antonio because he was a Jew. My feelings towards Shylock changed when he asked for a pound of Antonio’s flesh in forfeit.