How does The Merchant of Venice end as a tragedy for Shylock?

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Before answering this question, it's worth pointing out that The Merchant of Venice is not traditionally considered to be one of Shakespeare's tragedies; rather, it's often known as a "problem play," as certain key elements (such as Shylock 's experience after his legal defeat) are left basically unresolved. Be that...

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Before answering this question, it's worth pointing out that The Merchant of Venice is not traditionally considered to be one of Shakespeare's tragedies; rather, it's often known as a "problem play," as certain key elements (such as Shylock's experience after his legal defeat) are left basically unresolved. Be that as it may, it is possible to find tragic elements in the character of Shylock, and it could certainly be argued that the play ends in tragedy for him.

Consider, for instance, Shylock's fate: oppressed by the Christian community in Venice, Shylock is driven to seek revenge on Antonio, an anti-Semitic merchant. Just when it seems Shylock has the upper hand, though, his pride and eagerness cause him to overlook a potential loophole in the contract he drew up with Antonio, and this loophole is swiftly used to bring about Shylock's downfall, which includes the loss of most of his fortune and a forced conversion to Christianity. While Shylock can in many ways be seen as the antagonist of the play, it's difficult to avoid pitying him in the end, as his fate seems particularly tragic when one considers how much oppression Shylock has already faced. As such, after taking into account the dramatic nature of Shylock's downfall, it could certainly be argued that the play ends as a tragedy for him, even if the play itself is not a classic Shakespearean tragedy. 

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