Merchant of Venice


why has the character shylock been interpreted in so many different ways by so many different critics? why is the dramatic character more puzzling and stimulating than any of the shakespeares other romantic comedies ?

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Although this is not considered a tragedy (since people do not die in the end), the character of Shylock has historical significance in the way Jews have been perceived throughout history. Shylock is a moneylender; this is a typical stereotype of a Jew as far back as Shakespeare and even before that. Therefore, in order to consider Shylock, one would have to consider if he is just stereotypical or if he is a more developed character. Such a discussion can lead to different interpretations of his character as well as his actions and his motivations. It is also true that his character brings out certain qualities in the other characters in this play so we also have to consider him in his interaction with the other characters.