The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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Is Antonio the villain in The Merchant of Venice? Why?

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The ironic part about Antonio treating  Shylock the way he does in the play is that Shylock is the one who eventually assists his friend in his little business/love adventure. Granted, Shylock is a businessman and is interested in reaping more money. However, it almost seems debatable as to who the villain really is in the play. It could be argued that Antonio is the villain in the play because of the way he dealt with the Shylock, not only when he spit on him, but throughout the play. The court scene, in my opinion obviously, when Shylock was stripped of everything shows that Antonio was the exact thing Antonio's friends accused Shylock of: merciless. They could've shown Shylock mercy but they wanted to pay him back for his persistence in wanting to get his money back.

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The Merchant of Venice is not that simple. But no, Antonio is not the villain. If Antonio is guilty of anything, it is that he was anti-Semitic and had previously spit upon Shylock in the street and embarrassed him. Therefore Shylock hates him and is glad to reap revenge upon him.

Antonio is certainly involved in the actions that lead to Shylock’s demand of a pound of his flesh. Bassanio needed money to woe Portia. Antonio is able to borrow the money from Shylock on the basis of the fact that he has three merchant ships not yet returned. The goods on the ship will more than repay Antonio's debt. However, the ships are lost at sea and Antonio cannot repay what he owes Shylock.

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