What is Shylock attidude towards money in the Merchant of Venice?

3 Answers | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

The usual view of Shylock's attitude about money is a view unfavorable to Shylock. He is said to obsessed with money and unloving to his daughter, placing his wealth in jewels and ducats very far above her. One of the primary texts used to support this is spoken by Salanio and Solario in Act 2 Scene 6, who later in Act 3 Scene 1 make it clear that they are neither fans nor friends of Shylock. A serious question must be asked concerning their trustworthiness: Are they reliable?

Sorting out Shylock's attitude about money is more complicated than it appears at first glance. To start with, when he speaks of the turquoise ring that Jessica took (Act 3 Scene 1), he declares that it was given to him as a gift while he was still a bachelor by his soon-to-be bride, Leah. It's interesting to note that in the Bible, Leah, meaning "cow," had weak eys sight and was given to Jacob as a bride by an act of deceit perpetrated by her father. This shows that Shylock was devoted to Leah and valued her above any money even though she may not have been all that great a catch. Bear in mind that Shakespeare could have name Shylock's wife Rachael, Leah's fair younger sister whose name means "ewe" and whom Jacob loved and desired for her goodness and beauty.

In addition, Shylock's first concern and heartbreak is that his daughter betrayed him and rebelled against him, utterly rejecting him. It is reasonable and naturally to be expected that his actual words (as opposed to reported words) toward her, as in Act 3 Scene 1, would be less than charitable and filled with rage. The opposing opinion to this is that his only concern should be compassion and loving worriy for finding this daughter who has rejected him, stolen from him, rebelled against him and dashed his hope and joy. Jessica knew it would be true that with her action, reinforcing her rejection of Shylock's "manner," she would lose a father and he a daughter. Bear in mind that she may have rejected him but, until he was actually abandoned, he had not rejected her or even questioned her trustworthiness and loyalty.

Shylock's attitude toward toward money seems, based on known reliable evidence, to be: it is his work, and like any financier, his mode of thought and metaphor; much less important than his beloved family, including rejecting, betraying Jessica; his sole means of power and revenge against cruel, unloving Christians who have wronged and despised him as he states in his Act 3 Scene 1 " If you prick us, do we not bleed?" speech.

lizzyzxl's profile pic

lizzyzxl | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Shylock was a Jew and had suffered a great deal, being mistreated for his heritage. He had become one who valued wealth above human compassion. His contract, exacting a pound of flesh for default of a loan, illustrates this. He goes to court to demand his pound of flesh and believes it is his just due.

twilight96's profile pic

twilight96 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Shylock is a money lender. He lends money with interest to people. He is miser and his ducats are more important to him than his life and his daughter. But, at the point when he demands for the pound of flesh to the duke, his hatred for Antonio is far more important than money.

We’ve answered 317,692 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question