In Act 2 of The Merchant of Venice, is Shylock a likeable character? 3 points please.

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scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Shylock is not a likeable character in any parts of the play, but he is a sympathetic figure in some of the play's scenes.  Act 2, however, contains a mostly negative portrayal of the usurer.

1. First, in Act 2, Scene 5, Shylock is harsh with the imbecilic Lancelet and cold with his daughter Jessica.  He whines about having to go to a party and has nothing positive to say about anything.

2. Next, in Act 2, Scene 8, Solanio and Solario describe Shylock's horror at finding his daughter gone with his jewels and money.  Instead of bemoaning the loss of his only child, Shylock greedily cries over his lost possessions.

3. Finally, throughout the entire act, it is obvious that characters despise or mock Shylock.  Granted, much of their animosity toward him stems from their prejudice against Jews, but Shylock seems to have done little to win anyone's regard. His own servant quickly jumps at the chance to work for someone else.  His daughter seems to think nothing about leaving her only parent for a Christian and stealing his prized jewels/money at the same time.  Similarly, when the elopement occurs, no one shows sympathy for Shylock as they do for Antonio when it seems that his ships have been lost.

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sasha-tee | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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Shylock can be considered a villian, he deceives Antonio into beliving that his offer was genuine while in fact he was trying to kill him.