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Character Analysis - Shylock the Jew

            Shakespeare was a highly respected man. Today he is regarded as one of the most influential literary writers throughout history. While this may be true, many of his pieces have been questioned and debated by scholars, religious people and the everyday person. In the late 1500's he wrote a piece called "The Merchant of Venice". It has been discussed extensively both in the past and present as to whether or not Shylock the Jew was intended to be depicted as a villain or a victim. To answer a question of this nature we must look beyond our own perspective and seek out the intended perspective of the author and audience that is was intended for. .
             "The Merchant of Venice" was written during a time where Jews were banned from England. Shakespeare grew up in a world where inhabited solely by christians. Jews were looked down upon, they were discriminated against and many stereotypes flourished. Many people were quick to judge because they felt that the Jewish people were inferior to Christians. The world Shakespeare lived and grew up in affected his world view, morals, and religious outlook. I think Shakespeare intended for Shylock to play the role of a stereotypical 16th century Jew who would be mocked and looked down upon through the eyes of antisemitism which was rampant in England during this time. Shylock like many jews of his time was a money lender. He enjoyed taking advantage of others by lending money to Christians at extremely high rates of interest and then reaping the rewards when they failed to make the payments on time. He extended this advantage to include his stubborn and vengeful nature. .
             We see these characteristics being exposed in Shylock when after being spat on and mocked for years, he demands no less than what is written in his bond, even though he is offered double the sum that was originally lent. Shylock is also portrayed as a selfish and singleminded individual.

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