The Merchant of Venice Quick Write 2

2. Why does Launcelot want to leave Shylock’s service? How do his comments affect our perceptions about Shylock?
Launcelot desires to leave Shylock’s service because he feels he has been treated horribly! In his meeting with his father, after playing around and pulling a small prank, Launcelot finally reveals to Gobbo that he is actually his son. Shylock’s treatment begins to be painted when Gobbo cannot believe that he is his son due to his appearance being drastically different. Gibbo states, “Lord, how art thou changed!” and “Lord worshipped might he be, what a beard hast thou got! Thou hast got more hair on thy chin than Dobbin my fill-horse has on his tail.”, which portrays Launcelot’s appearance to have an ungroomed beard, and to be unrecognisable from his past self.
Furthermore, Launcelot fortifies this impression of Shylock’s treatment by stating how he desires to run away, and that the gift his father wants to give Shylock should be replaced with a noose. This is shown when Launcelot says, “I have set up my rest to run away, so I will not rest till I have run some ground.” and “My master’s a very Jew. Give him a present. Give him a halter”. The emphasis placed on Shylock being Jewish adds to the perception of Shylock since at the time, there was quite a lot of anti-semitism. Jewish people were treated quite differently and looked down upon, as well as the presence of abundant amounts of stereotypes. This scene focuses in on the stereotype of Jewish people being greedy. This is shown when Launcelot explains how Shylock has been starving him to death, “I am famished in his service. You may tell every finger I have with my ribs”. This is a great form of imagery as the reader can imagine Launcelot pointing to his visible ribcage, and counting them off with his fingers! The graphic way in which it is described only furthers the stereotype of greed and adds a negative perception to Shylock’s character. At the time, this would have been something all people could relate upon, or possibly find comical due to the abundant presence of anti semitism, thus it was effective in building onto the audience’s perception of Shylock, that being of a greedy man who will take from others and starve his servants.

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