Much before the twentieth century, anti-Semitism was rife and The Merchant of Venice is a curious tale, as we are able to see how Jews were viewed in the late 1500s - especially as Shakespeare's depiction was at odds with the accepted anti-Jewish prejudiced views in that he considers both sides of the argument....
But as soon as the villain walks on stage he is hissed and booed, unfortunately it is not as simple as this in 'The Merchant of Venice' and how the audience react to the characters is all important in making the distinction between victim or vill...
Siemon opens his essay on The with the following statement: "The Merchant of Venice is the first of Shakespeare's comedies to attempt a full-scale depiction of evil.17" Indeed, evil is a major theme of the play, and certainly one of the most profound characteristics of Shylock.
Finally, let me repeat that Othello does not kill Desdemona in jealousy, but in a conviction forced upon him by the almost superhuman art of Iago, such a conviction as any man would and must have entertained who had believed Iago's honesty as Othello did. We, the audience, know that Iago is a villain from the beginning; but in considering the essence of the Shakspearian Othello, we must perseveringly place ourselves in his situation, and under his circumstances. Then we shall immediately feel the fundamental difference between the solemn agony of the noble Moor, and the wretched fishing jealousies of Leontes, and the morbid suspiciousness of Leonatus, who is, in other respects, a fine character. Othello had no life but in Desdemona:the belief that she, his angel, had fallen from the heaven of her native innocence, wrought a civil war in his heart. She is his counterpart; and, like him, is almost sanctified in our eyes by her absolute unsuspiciousness, and holy entireness of love. As the curtain drops, which do we pity the most?
the true one, as fitting to Iago's contempt for whatever did not display power, and that intellectual power. In what follows, let the reader feel how by and through the glass of two passions, disappointed vanity and envy, the very vices of which he is complaining, are made to act upon him as if they were so many excellences, and the more appropriately, because cunning is always admired and wished for by minds conscious of inward weakness;but they act only by half, like music on an inattentive auditor, swelling the thoughts which prevent him from listening to it.
The evil he saw done to him took three major forms: hatred from Antonio, discrimination from Christian Venetians, and the marriage to a Christian of his daughter Jessica.
Check your paper » The Character of Shylock in Merchant of Venice
Few characters created by Shakespeare embodies pure evil like the character of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.
good and evil (like ying and yang), greed and power, guilt and conscience, fear, ambition – this leads to the murder of other people illustrating to the reader that even the most sane of people can result to character diminishing methods to get what they want....
Person, Jr., editors, (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1991), volume 4
Shakespeare, William, The Merchant of Venice
Traversi, D.A., 1968, from Shakespeare Criticism, Sandra L.