ShylockI don't like Shylock.  How could you convince me otherwise?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the view of Shylock we have depends a lot on how a director casts him. Interestingly, the recent Al Pacino version of the film does cast a Shylock who only the most hard-hearted audience can feel sorry for. It does this by making the context of widespread antisemitism evident, and adding Shylock along as its latest victim. I think also Shylock can be played as a character with massive dignity and pride in his heritage - although he clearly is vengeful, vindictive and cruel, you could argue he is only driven to these lengths by the way he and his people are treated, and then by the shock of his daughter eloping. Equally, you could argue that Tubal goads Shylock into pursuing his uncompromising revenge. Certainly Antonio´s "mercy" gives us real sympathy for a man who has been used and abused so much. Can we really feel sorry for his attempt to strike back?

kriskress eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't like Shylock.  How could you convince me otherwise?

Shylock is Shakespeare's sympathy invoking antagonist. While he is unlikable, he is also a character you feel bad for. Why should he be spat upon and frowned at simply for being of a certain religious denomination and practicing a business he is forced to because of his religion? Also, you must admit it is quite comical how his contract is thwarted. So, in addition to being ostracized from society for his religious and business practices, he lends his funds only to be made a mockery of and hence, is also now out money in addition to pride. I feel bad for the guy!

alexb2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't like him either, and it would be hard to think of his good qualities, because he has so few. The only thing I can think of is to pity him, because despite his flaws, Shylock is treated unfairly because of his religion. That doesn't make me like him, but it does make me question the society in which he lives and thus makes him slightly more sympathetic. 

muddy-mettled | Student

Well, the play is replete with duos(Portia/Nerissa, Salarino/Solanio) and some have suggested that Shylock/Antonio are one.  If, as Shaxberd invites to throughout MV, we compare MV and ROMEO AND JULIET, the idea that Shylock and Antonio are sad because Leah has passed away might occur and thus the phrase "sympathy invoking" works.

chieuhado | Student

Oh ! Is Shylock  Shakespeare's sympathy invoking antagonist ?  Really ???


gia vang

dk3006 | Student

I don't like Shylock.  How could you convince me otherwise?

Shylock does have flaws. That is granted and I accept it. But I believe that Shylock is a character to be sympathised with. For years he has been mocked in the Rialto. He has been spat on and treated in a manner which you would not do to a dog. Shylock has been forced into the moneylending profession by the Christains because at that time Jews were not allowed to become Merchants. Shylock has had to put up with the shame of his only daughter spending his late wives ring on a monkey. Shylock after this incident is mocked by the people of venice. Then in the court scene Portia leads him along the garden path so to speak. She forces him into a corner until he can hvae nothing but his bond. Shylock has been treated cruelly for so many years that it has festered and grown until the takes over his entire soul. Then as a final act of humiliation Antonio makes Shylock give up his faith. Shylocks faith is the very thing that defines him as a man. This is why I believe that we should feel sorry for Shylock.