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Greg Barker

With particular reference to Act


IV, scene one, consider how far
ad in what ways Shakespeare
encourages his audience to see
Shylock as a villian, Antonio as a
victim or Portia as a horione in
The Merchant of Venice
In act 4 scene one, it is the trial in which Shylock tries to get the pound of
Antonios flesh. Shylock is offered 3 times the original amount of money to not
take Antonios flesh shows he cares more about revenge than money, even
thought money is his life. At the start of the scene the audience thinks there is
only two possible outcomes, either Shylock being merciful and letting Antonio
keep his pound of flesh, and keep his life, with him gaining a large amount of
money; or Shylock not being merciful, taking the pound of flesh and Antonio
dying. We see Shylock as being a villain as he is in control of Antonios life. He
doesnt want Antonio to live and is thought of as a potential murderer. Everyone
in the courtroom Is against him and they never refer to him as Shylock, calling
him the jew. The Duke tries to emotionally blackmail him into changing his mind,
but that doesnt work, he also threatens him by saying, we all expect a gentle
answer. He is saying, you will think this, wont you...
Antonio is shown as a villain because Shylock is set on killing him, and there
seems to be no way of avoiding it. He is not just a villain though because he did
spit on Shylock. Everyone seems to be against him.
Portia is shown as a heroin because she appears, in disguise as a legal doctor
and saves Antonios life. When she enters she treats both Antonio and Shylock
equally, refering to Antonio as the Merchant and Shylock as the Jew, as the scene
progresses she gradually begins to treat Shylock worse, refering to him as the
Jew. She gives him 3 chances to take the money, offering him 3 times the original
amount offered. Shylock doesnt take her offers, and says that he will take his
flesh because it is his. Throughout this scene he Is very persistant, and says he
will stick exacty to the terms of the bond and not accept any other thing. Portia
says he can then take his pound of flesh as it is legally his to take, and that he
will have nothing but the bond. He says this many times throughout the scene.
He makes it clear that the reason he wants antonio dead is because he hates him
and has the legal power to do so. He doesnt even let a surgeon be there to stop
his wounds, saying I cannot find it, tis not In the bond. He has scales already
with him so he can weigh out the flesh after he has cut it.

Greg Barker
Antonio throughout this scene appears quiet, and accepting that he is going to
die. Throughout the play he has tried to help Bassanio and it is that that has got
him into this mess. He puts his life on the line to help out Bassanio, when he is
about to be killed, all he asks is that Bassanio be there with him. In a way, some
would say that he is almost saying, Bassanio, this is what youve done to me, this
was your fault, but in a way hes also saying, I care about you so much I just
want you there with me. Some think that Antonio is actually gay and in love with
Bassanio, as he is never shown as having any interest in any women and the
only person he shows affection to is Bassanio.