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Please give me suggestions on how to improve this essay based on Shylock from The...

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rainbow224 | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted May 1, 2013 at 3:17 PM via web

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Please give me suggestions on how to improve this essay based on Shylock from The Merchant of Venice.

Body Paragraph 10:

I am hated by Venetians, the anti-Semites; despised for my religion, culture, and occupation; betrayed by my own daughter and ultimately undone. Therefore, I coldly attempted to avenge the wrongs done to me by doggedly pursuing my bond and wanting to murder my persecutor, Antonio.

Body Paragraph 11:

Yet, I was humiliated in the court, stripped of much of my wealth and forced to convert to Christianity; I became a broken man, rejected by everyone. However, I believe that my punishment is hypocritical for it seems to mimic the very crime of which I am being accused, and that crime is a lack of forgiveness. My sense of decency has been fractured by the persecution I endured.  I have been made the hard, savage, relentless creature by long and cruel oppression.

Conclusion:

Now I know that I was wrong, I was made blind by my loathing. I am truly apologetic and beg of you to show pity. Forgiveness is a Christian value so please reconsider the conversion of this repentant sinner. I am more sinned against than sinning.

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 1, 2013 at 4:57 PM (Answer #1)

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Depending on what the requirements are for this assignment, consider what has been left out of the argument. Shylock was given the chance to reconsider how the deal was to be brought to justice. First, the full sum of $3,000 ducats were offered to him on by Antonio's friends who tried to save his life. Then, Portia told her husband, Bassanio, to offer Shylock $6,000 ducats to appease the contract. Then, during the court scene and climax, Shylock was asked numerous times to reconsider. Thinking that he had the law on his side, he was merciless. When the law was not on his side, then he knew that he couldn't beg for mercy because that would undermine his whole argument in the first place. If Shylock asks for the judgment against him to be softened, then he is also submitting to the Christian principle which he fought so much against. It can be argued that Shylock would never ask for the sentence to be dropped or modified because he would then be asking for mercy. On the other hand, which is worse? being forced to live a religion he doesn't believe or beg for mercy.

During the debate, Shylock says, "An oath, an oath, I have an oath in heaven:/Shall I lay perjury upon my soul?/No, not for Venice"(IV.i.231-233). This shows that Shylock upholds his oaths to heaven more important than the ones dictated in the laws of Venice. Therefore, it can be argued that Shylock would never seek mercy from a Christian or the Christian state.

Shylock later says, ". . .by my soul I swear/ There is no power in the tongue of man/To alter me: I stay here on my bond"(IV.i.244-246). This statement would suggest that even after losing everything, no man could alter his thoughts about what he believes. Granted, however, that his thoughts may change after losing everything, but there is no evidence from the text that supports that. Shylock, a devoted Jew, would probably be more content to suffer the consequences of Christian law than sacrifice his Jewish beliefs and oaths with heaven--even if he is forced to be convert to Christianity. His heart would still worship the laws of the Old Testament, no matter what.

It is, therefore, very difficult to write an essay on Shylock asking forgiveness of Christians. If the essay must be written as such, however, focus on the preachings of Portia during the court scene and apply those to how Christians should not be hypocrites by forcing such tough consequences on Shylock, even though they may completely justified by the law to do so. What the Christians asked of Shylock, they did not give in return and left him to suffer mentally and emotionally. Shylock would attack them in an authoritative way, not in a weak-minded, victim sort of way.

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