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Shylock Speech & Analysis

Shylock Speech & Analysis

“Hath not a Jews eyes”
(III.i.49-61)

Shylock, the main character, is depicted as a weasel who grotesquely demands a "pound of flesh" in the “name of friendship.” Characterized as one who fits the stereotypical Jew; he therefore, in an exaggerated form, loans money and meddles in usury. His portrayal as the stereotype of a miserly money lending Jew raises questions over possible Antisemitism on Shakespeare's part. In Shylock’s monologue, he recounts Antonio’s malevolence towards himself. Antonio’s rancor, Shylock claims, is characteristic not only in Venetians but in all Christians. Christians had scorned his nature, segregated his people, and maligned their name. The beginning of an elaborate prose, he reminds his company of three, of who are all Venetians, that Jews are human. This speech is a personal promise of revenge. Shakespeare's glimpse of the Shylock's human core does not tone down the accusations of Antisemitism. His articulates the fact that he, a Jew, is equipped with the same dimensions and therefore subject to the same comfort and pain. He radically justifies his villainy by elevating himself to “Christian” humanity and therefore associating himself with the same necessity for revenge. The universal paradigm, found in this monologue, is that humanity is naturally sinful which stems from the fact that “if you prick us do we not bleed (III.i.61).” However, once again, Shylock’s speech does not mitigate the fact of Shakespeare’s Antisemitism. In argument seventeen lines after Shylock pleads with his persecutors to recognize his humanity, Shakespeare has Shylock fuming over the elopement of his daughter and her theft of his money. With very strong language, Shylock wishes that his daughter "were dead at my foot! (III. i. 88-90). ”

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