Personal Response to Merchant of Venice

Is Shylock the real antagonist in this play?

After reading the play Merchant of Venice, many audiences perceive Antonio as the protagonist because of the act of generosity and kindness that he is willing to sacrifice his body to lend money to his friend, while Shylock is the evil antagonist that wants to murder the rightful hero. In this response, I will discuss why I disagree that Shylock is the antagonist in this play. 

First of all, throughout the play, there are multiple pieces of evidence that Antonio and his friends treat Shylock horribly; for example, the big speech that Shylock gave,

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies, and what’s his reason? I am a Jew.”

Just with this speech of Shylock, we can perceive Shylock’s anger and frustration towards Antonio and that he had enough of him often treated him poorly, just because he is a Jew. 

Furthermore, the act of kindness could be perceived from Shylock is much greater than Antonio’s. Shylock is willing to lend 3000 ducats to Antonio despite calling Shylock a dog and frequently mistreating him. This shows that Shylock is willing to forgive and forget the past and resolve their dispute. 

People argue that Shylock only lends 3000 ducats to Antonio because he wishes to take 1 pound of Antonio’s flesh to take his revenge. I can’t entirely agree with this argument because, at first, Shylock was willing to lend Antonio money free of interest, “Forget the shames that you have stain’d me with, Supply your present wants, and take no doit of usance for my monies, and you’ll not hear me. This is kind I offer.” Therefore, this shows that Shylock is forgiving and willing to offer Antonio kindness. 

Other than that, I consider Shylock as a man who stands by his beliefs. Shylock could have given up on Antonio’s flesh and taken double the money that Antonio owed him, but he refused and was destined to take revenge on him. Many people would easily hinder their goals and beliefs from gaining a profit or advantage, but Shylock did not.

To conclude everything that has been discussed, I think that Shylock does not deserve what happened to him, and he is definitely not the antagonist in this play. 

3 thoughts on “Personal Response to Merchant of Venice”

  1. Hugo Great job! I liked the way you supported your idea with lots of evidence from the text. I liked how you explained your interpretation of how Shylock was and how strong he is for sticking to what he wanted even when offered so many deals. I think it was really effective how you compared Antonia with Shylock in terms of kindness with events that happened in the play.

  2. Good response Hugo! I liked how you started with a thesis of what you were going to write about for the rest of the personal response; it made it very clear. You also had good transition words to create a better flow in the writing. One critic would be that the paragraphs could be combined to ease the eye instead of jumping space. Nice work!

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