Merchant Of Venice Character Analysis Essay

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Most Shakespearean comedies end with marriages and the triumph of a protagonist, as opposed to death and misfortune like a tragedy. By this definition, The Merchant of Venice is a comedy; yet, many skeptics question this claim due to their analysis of the trial. They consider Shylock’s loss in the trial to be the downfall of a poor protagonist, suggesting that Merchant is a tragedy. However, these skeptics blame it on the Christian defendants in court. Shakespeare portrays Shylock as a self-destructive character, affirming that The Merchant of Venice is a comedic play, and reinforces its anti-Semitic message by suggesting that Jews create their own problems. Shylock unintentionally gives Portia his own strategy to defeat him in court. Dressed …show more content…
When Bassanio asks him to lend money to Antonio, Shylock realizes that Antonio is in the position of a “fawning publican,” which suggests that Antonio is obedient to a servile degree and also forebodes that Shylock will abuse this power because he is his enemy. Shylock subsequently admits that he “will feed fat the ancient grudge [he] bears [Antonio]” (I.iii.47). Shylock’s metaphor of feeding suggests that the “ancient grudge” has become ravenous over time—or rather that his anger for Antonio has grown—and that his plan of destruction will be able to fulfill his wishes completely by destroying and abusing Antonio. When he finally has power over Antonio, Shylock tells Antonio that “since [he] is a dog, beware [his] fangs” (III.iii.8). Dog’s teeth usually aren’t referred to as fangs. Usually, a serpent has fangs instead. Since serpents are venomous, Shylocks analogy suggests he is going to be much more abusive now that he has taken over Antonio. Because he constantly reveals his malevolent thoughts to destroy Antonio, Shylock’s numerous threats of abuse display that he is the antagonistic figure in this play. At the conclusion of the trial, it seems that the tables have turned—a common comedic theme—and Shylock’s bad deeds towards the protagonists of the play have not altered their ability to succeed, but rather, given them even more justification to win the trial because they all know that Shylock is a malicious …show more content…
In the apocryphal part of the bible with Susanna, Daniel saves her from being falsely convicted by two evil men. In act four of Merchant, a similar scene occurs where two parties fight for justice. After Shylock’s constant begging and nagging for the court to grant him Antonio’s flesh, Portia concedes: “There is no power in Venice [c]an alter a decree established” (IV.i.226-227). Portia is only in favor of Shylock at this point because she has not yet told him that he can’t spill Christian blood. But, in response, Shylock is overjoyed: “A Daniel come to judgment! Yea, a Daniel” (IV.i.231). Shylock’s association with Daniel in this moment is wrong: Portia currently advocates Shylock’s persecution which is based on hatred and desire to abuse, all antagonistic values, and Shylock thinks this is good judgment. However, Daniel was specifically noted for dealing judgment with good intent. Shylock even says that he “honor[s]” Portia’s false embodiment of Daniel (IV.i.234). Shylock’s misunderstanding of Daniel’s motives speaks to his character: he’s a troubled person who has no compassion for people, so much that he honors Portia’s refusal to have good judgment for Antonio in the moment. By revealing that he himself is an antagonist, Shylock appears to be self-destructive. Since the protagonists prevail over him in the end of the trial, Merchant embodies a typical comedic

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