Within the content of this essay I will be discussing about two main characters in this novel. Jessica and Shylock. Jessica being the daughter of Shylock with both following the Jewish religion. However Jessica passionately falls in love with a Christian man Lorenzo, she is very determined and enthusiastic to be with this man. To such an extent that she would leave her religion and her father to become a Christian and follow her desires. Your probably be wanting to know a bit more about these characters well let me briefly explain in regards to both of Shylock and Jessica’s characters.
Firstly Jessica, she has a very enthusiastic and opinionated character and like I previously mentioned she is very determined so if she wants something she will strive until she gains what she wants. You can also perceive Jessica to be a shy self- conscious character who cares what others think about her. Shylock from what we have gathered from the book so far is a greedy, self-obsessed man who cares a bit too much about his money and gains more than the things which matter more. The things which more attention should be paid to.
In Shakespeare’s book and this particular one (The merchant of Venice) you will see that there are different ways of interpreting things different sections which can mean different things. In this evaluation I will be doing that. I will be equally evaluating Jessica’s character and I will be interpreting the book in 2 different ways a victim and a villain. And it will be up to you to decide how you perceive it. The first way which the audience can interpret Jessica’s character is as a victim.
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This is shown in the book in many ways some of which are; when it is said by Jessica ‘I may be a daughter to his blood, but I am not related to his lifestyles’. This quote shows how Jessica is showing how she is totally distinctive to her father and although she is his daughter this does not mean that they both hold the same qualities and characteristics. Jessica does not want to be related to his lifestyles as the quote mentions. This could be because she resents the way he treats others and the way he is malicious and evil towards other people.
But the audience would probably think he’s only evil to them because of the way he is treated by others. Yes I would agree but it is not only others he treats badly, it is also his daughter. Furthermore throughout the amount we have read so far there has been a number of times when Shylock has slandered his daughter and he has said ‘I would my daughter be dead at my foot’. This is the quote that stood out to me because no father would ever wish or say that they would want their daughter dead at their foot. That clearly indicates how much love Shylock has for Jessica. (Not a lot).
And when you think that this is something Jessica’s father has said behind his daughters back I dread to think what has been said face to face between them. So his self-centred character makes Jessica the victim, the self -centred man who cares so much about his wealth and silver forgets the fact his daughter has gone and abandoned him. In Act 3 Scene 3 when Shylock first discovers that his daughter has gone away with his wealth his first acknowledgment in fact the first sentence he says is ‘Oh,oh,oh! One of the stolen diamonds cost me two thousand ducats in Frankfurt! This is what kind of man I have been explaining in the above two paragraphs one that is having a big frenzy over his wealth and about all the stolen diamonds and its high value. This sums up his unloving selfish character. Also the stress of his voice in this can be imagined. There are two exclamation marks so you can imagine him talking in a very intense antagonized fearsome voice with firing rage and at the same time very astounded that his daughter has taken his possessions. Moreover the same interpretation of Jessica being shown as a victim.
However this time I will not be referring to the way Jessica has been poorly treated by Shylock I will be referring to a different point that being; that the money the jewels everything which her father possess would be inherited to his daughter after his death. So really all which Jessica did steal is all that is hers. So I don’t understand why Shylock was as furious. As he knew it would be hers someday but it was just sooner then he had expected. And because of this reason I feel that it was out of order to say what he said about Jessica when she was entitled to what she has stolen.
And at this point in the story we don’t know whether the jewels had been stolen. It could be perceived that she had borrowed from her to then return but we don’t know! So because the audience do not know and Shylock did not know I felt that it was very biased for us to Judge Jessica on that like Shylock did. Now I am moving on to the second interpretation, which is regarding Jessica to be the villain which is another way which the audience can perceive Jessica to be. Jessica can be portrayed as a egotistical, inconsiderate character especially towards her father as she ran away with his money and Jewels which he worked hard to gain.
It was already hard enough for Shylock being a Jew and not being able to attain money as freely as others and Jessica totally disregarded this factor and went off with his money. And yes Shylock may have had his faults but let’s be honest Jessica was quite disloyal breaking her father’s trust in the worst possible way. In the novel Shylock says ‘Listen to me Jessica lock my doors up’ here Shylock clearly states to lock the doors and not to open them again she broke this trust and as well as opening the doors to engage with a Christian she then went and stole all his money.
This was a total betrayal of trust, and considering all she had done her father was quite reasonable. In addition to show Jessica’s evil villain like character. I would like to point out how I feel Jessica forgot the fact the Shylock was bringing her up on her own without a mother without anyone else he was bringing her up on his own. He clothe her fed her sheltered her gave her everything she possibly needed and for what? For Jessica to change religion, steal run away with a Christian man. Also she was very blind to the understanding of how the Christians loathed him because of their prejudice towards his religion.
They spat on him, kicked him, called him a dog. And regardless of this ill-mannered treatment she left her father to be disgraced on his own with no other defender by his side. This was very egocentric of her and she should be very ashamed of what she has done to her father. After he has done so much for her alone. In conclusion, I would like to address what I feel about Jessica’s character. I feel that Jessica was a villain she was totally perfidious to her father. She was blinded from reality and to notice that he had been badly treated.
If it is that she did notice and decided not to do anything then she was being totally selfish and heartless. But that is my opinion different people have different opinions. In addition the audience could view Jessica to be either a villain or a victim. There are equally as many points for each showing she is and is not a villain. So it is totally up to the reader to decide whether Shylocks greedy character made Jessica the victim, or if Jessica’s betrayal to her father made her a villain. It’s up to you to decide, but you may find that as you get into the novel these opinions may change.
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