In" The Merchant of Venice", should Shylock be sympathized with more than Antonio? Discuss.In" The Merchant of Venice", should Shylock be sympathized with more than Antonio? Discuss.

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question posed her is one of a subjective nature. What this means is that you could potentially receive many very different answers based upon personal interpretations of both Antonio and Shylock. Depending on which character the reader relates to more, sympathizes with more, or even likes more, one could justify either character deserves sympathy.

This being said, I beleive that Antonio shold be sympathsized with more.

The reason for this is that, while both men were horrible to each other (both were prejudiced against each other), Shylock is the character who wants to publicly humiliate Antonio. Shylock is not satisfied with a repayment six times the amount of the debt owed. Instead, he wishes to claim the pound of flesh as promised upon inability to repay the initial debt.

This being said, while Shylock does stand to lose everything if a single drop of blood is spilled, he is the one who is influenced more by hatred than by the repayment of the debt owed. Shylock knew there would be a possibility that Antonio would not be able to repay his debt; therefore, Shylock enacted a penalty so inhumane one could only consider him monstrous.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shylock's avarice and his lack of compassion has effected his end.  He is less a victim of fate than of his own nature, and, therefore, deserves less sympathy than the generous Antonio who risks his life for his friend Bassanio.

muddy-mettled | Student

Noted scholar J. Dover Wilson wrote:  "Shylock may have taken him[Shakespeare] to some extent by surprise, but Shylock was the child of HIS imagination and HIS intellect; and it seems to me absurd to suppose that the sympathies of such a father can have been wholly on the side of the spitting Antonio."

muddy-mettled | Student

Therefore, noting the fairy story element(see the Bantam edition,David Bevington, ed., 1988) can be helpful.  Also, Sonnet 42 is interesting.  If one compares this play to ROMEO AND JULIET, the thought that Antonio and Shylock are sad because Leah has died might occur and then one might sympathize with both.

ayy-dee | Student

Antonio is often picked on by Shylock. Shylock should not be more sympathized!!!!

preetkanwar | Student

Shylock is the mighty character of the play. In many places, he is more sympathized than Antonio. Antonio often insulted him in public. He spits on him, he calls him a "cut throat dog". He hates him because he is a Jew. Shylock’s words "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Is not a Jew fed with the same food as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?", all these words arouse our pity and sympathy for shylock.

komal19 | Student

yes! Shylock should be more sympathized than Antonio because the one who lost everything was Shyloc..Antonio gained whatever he desired,including his life..Shylock lost his daughter,companions,luxuries and wealth.if we put it into a nutshell,simply he lost his life.According to me the hero of the play is Shylock.

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