Question: is it possible to find sympathy with Shylock?.
It is without doubt possible to find sympathy with Shylock. In Shakespeare's play Merchant of Venice it is clearly portrayed that the Elizabethans treated all Jews with equal spite. Therefore we as the modern audience are clearly expected to do the same. We are expected to think like the Elizabethans and treat all Jews with moral disgust and hatred. Yet as the modern day audience we have the right to have our own opinions and surely Shylock's character is open to interpretation; in parts of the play the audience feels almost sympathetic and pity towards Shylock and in other parts of the play, his actions are merciless, he turns back into this cunning, calculating monster which turns the audience against him once again.
Shylock was a Jewish merchant who lived in a world where the Jewish religion was regarded as evil. The people of Venice including Antonio, had ridiculed him, they called him a dog, and spat on him. All this simply because he was a Jew. He was considered an alien in Venice and yet had to abide by the Venetian law. The laws at the time when the play was written were in favour of Christians. Jews had few rights, they could not claim inalienable citizenship in any country and they depended on the mercy of the society that they lived in. therefore it is clear that Shylock's life would not have been very pleasant because he lives in a country where every Christian regards him as a nobody. After he lost the trial Shylock's life was in the hands of the duke: "if it be prov"d against an alien he seek the life of any citizen the offender's life lies in the mercy/ of the duke only." When we were first introduced to Shylock we learn of the abuse that he has suffered at the hands of the Christians. " Many a time and oft in the Rialto you have rated me about my moneys and usances. Still have I borne it with a patient shrug, for sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.