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Many factors need to be contemplated when determining if Shylock is to be considered a victim or a villain It is difficult to class Shylock as simply a victim or villain as he is a complex character who can be interpreted in different ways Anti Semitism was normal in Shakespeares era therefore a Shakespearian audience would have regarded Shylock as a villain In this period usury was condemned by the Christian religion this meant he was portrayed unsympathetically This contrasts with contemporary values as we would expect a more even handed approach Shakespeare wanted to show Shylock as a villain in act I scene iii we learn of his usury It is in this scene that Bassanio asks to borrow money in Antonios name In the aside we learn of Shylocks intent regarding Antonios life If I can catch him once upon the hip I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him This is hidden under a faade of friendship he calls the bond a merry sport Antonio regards the pound of flesh clause to be a show of friendship The Hebrew will turn Christian he grows kind Antonio receives the terms of the bond because he is confident he will be able to repay the bond Shylock feels justified in exacting revenge upon Antonio He is resentful of the Christians and their attitude towards the Jewish religion In Act 4 scene 1 Shylock is represented as a villain he demands his pound of flesh and renders no mercy The judge is biased towards Antonio and it can be clearly seen he has already passed judgement The Duke calls Shylock an inhuman wretch even when he is meant to be impartial He also says he expects a gentle answer this is a play on words - gentle is meant to mean gentile which is the name for a person who does not acknowledge your god Shylock
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