“In Merchant of Venice, no individual character exclusively causes the occurrence of tragedy” states Harold Bloom when presenting his perspective on the character and personality of Shylock. Merchant of Venice is a Shakespearean tragedy play, written in the Elizabethan Era, between 1596 and 1598. The statement, “Shylock is solely responsible for the tragedy in Merchant of Venice”, is proven to be completely false by the actions of Bassanio, who failed to repay the debt, therefore making him responsible for the tragedy in the play.
Although Shylock is not solely responsible for the tragedy, he is presented as the key antagonist due to his constant desire for revenge against Antonio, which causes the introduction of tragic and dramatic context. Shylock does not single-handedly cause the tragedy in the play, but, the conventions of society villainies the Jewish community, therefore, producing a misinterpretation of Shylock’s action.
No individual character is to solely blame for the occurrence of tragic events in Shakespeare’s tragedy genre plays, such as Merchant of Venice, where numerous characters and conventions of society contribute to the occurrence of a chain of events that leads to tragedy While Bassano is responsible for a portion of the tragedy, Shylock is the key antagonist primarily responsible for the tragedy that unfolds throughout the play and generates an occurrence of chain of tragic events due to his stubbornly wish for retribution, on the basis of the actions of Antonio’s friend.
Symbolisms, accompanied by alliterations, are used to add depth in the characters perception and rhythm to the structure to the play, for the primary function of entertainment. In Act 4. 1. 315, Portia uses an example of these literary devices, thorough her dialogue “The words expressly are, a pound of flesh: Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh”.
The repetition and use of the phrase, “pound of flesh”, symbolises Shylock’s desperate desire for vengeances, which also supported through the use of, “If every ducat in six thousand ducats Were in six parts, and every part a ducat, I would not draw them,-I would have my bond”, which clearly represents Shylock’s desire for Antonio’s life more than the repayment of the debt, therefore signifying him to be the key antagonist.
In addition, his expectations of inhumane and unrealistic penalties for simply failing to pay the debt on time, such as the “The pound of flesh, which I demand of him, is dearly bought; ’tis mine, and I will have it”, give the viewers or readers, a very accurate interpretation of the Shylock’s character, which is, as the main villain in Merchant of Venice and due to this, the previously triggered chain of event intensifies and later concludes in tragedy.
Harold Bloom confirms “Shylock is no monster but an overwhelming persuasion of a possible human being”, when presenting his personal analysis of Shylock’s character. This displays that the critic. Harold Bloom clearly believes Shylock’s actions has signified himself as an antagonist and also held him accountable for the tragedy. Shylock’s character has evidently made him responsible for the tragedy that unfolds, through his villainous actions, which lead to producing tragedy.
While Shylock is responsible for a significant section of the tragedy that unfolds in the Merchant of Venice, the conventions of society villainies the Jewish community, from the beginning of the play, Shylock is visualised as an antagonist, therefore, creating a misconception of all his actions. Literary devices such as imagery and simile are used to describe the actions of numerous characters as well as for entertaining purposes. In Act 4. 1.
241, Shylock says, “You know the law, your exposition Hath been most sound; I charge you by the law, Where of you are a well-deserving pillar, Proceed to judgment”, when trying to convince the duke, to rule in his favour. This undoubtedly shows, Shylock’s respect for the law, on the other hand, Antonio and Bassano defaulted the borrowed loan, therefore, failing to follow the law. This juxtaposition shows the involvement of anti-semitism in the Merchant of Venice because of the discrimination against the Jewish community as Shylock was following the law and yet, the audience were presented with the idea of Shylock being the key antagonist.
When play was performed during the time it was written, the conventions of society were a major influence on who was the key antagonist in the Merchant of Venice, because during of the religious conflict between the two religions, Christianity and Jewish, and with the setting of the play in Venice, where the Jewish community for banned several years and later treated as second class citizens.
Furthermore, this is supported through the use of simile, in “Antonio spat on me just last week and treated me like dog”, since, it clearly displays how the Christian, Antonio, has used to setting of Venice, where the religion in majority was Christianity, to discriminate against Shylock, the Jew.