Character Sketch Of Shylock

Write a character sketch of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice that has at least 4 negative and 3 positive traits.

Asked on by shah211

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the play "The Merchant Of Venice" by William Shakespeare, the author shows us a character with plenty of negative traits. To focus on one, for example, we could look at his vindictiveness. his desire is to achieve revenge at all costs, even to that of his own life. There are many reasons that cause individuals to become spiteful and vindictive - in Shylock's case he perceives not only himself but his whole race to be hard-done-by, even persecuted. The perceived cruelty and humiliation engenders in him a need to regain control, to be in a position of power against those who have insulted, offended or affronted him or the dignity of his race. He shows obsesion however in his need to carry this through to the nth degree, even when offered ways in which to mitigate his circumstances.

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ntibane | Student | (Level 1) Honors

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When it comes to analyzing the character of Shylock, I think it is much wiser to tackle this in a more Philosophical manner. One should not be blinded by religion because it is obvious that you will give a description that only yields Shylock as this bad person.

Shylock is a bitter character. I feel that he has been made bitter by the actions committed against him by his Christian rivalries. It is stated in the book that he has suffered terrible treatment just because he is a Jew - different from the Christian community. His friends have been ill-treated because of their religion.  I think that his wrong move was to demand a pound of flesh if Antonio failed to repay the loan issued to him. He could have asked for one of his ships - but as a result of the anger he decided that he should you this opportunity to get back at Antonio. Throughout the play he is driven to anger. There is no happy seen of him.                                                                                                               I say that Shylock was the only victim in this case. Anger doesn't mean he was evil.

unique254's profile pic

unique254 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

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Although critics tend to agree that Shylock is The Merchant of Venice’s most noteworthy figure, no consensus has been reached on whether to read him as a bloodthirsty bogeyman, a clownish Jewish stereotype, or a tragic figure whose sense of decency has been fractured by the persecution he endures. Certainly, Shylock is the play’s antagonist, and he is menacing enough to seriously imperil the happiness of Venice’s businessmen and young lovers alike. Shylock is also, however, a creation of circumstance; even in his single-minded pursuit of a pound of flesh, his frequent mentions of the cruelty he has endured at Christian hands make it hard for us to label him a natural born monster. In one of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues, for example, Shylock argues that Jews are humans and calls his quest for vengeance the product of lessons taught to him by the cruelty of Venetian citizens. On the other hand, Shylock’s coldly calculated attempt to revenge the wrongs done to him by murdering his persecutor, Antonio, prevents us from viewing him in a primarily positive light. Shakespeare gives us unmistakably human moments, but he often steers us against Shylock as well, painting him as a miserly, cruel, and prosaic figure.


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