The Merchant of Venice Quick Write 3

3. How does Shylock perceive himself as a master and a father? Give evidence from the text to support your answer.
Shylock perceives himself as both a master and a father, and it is shown quite clearly throughout the text of the scene. We can see that Shylock acts like a father when he calls out to Jessica, his daughter, saying she shouldn’t eat too much or sleep and snore and wear her clothes out, “Thou shalt not gormandize As thou has done with me. -What, Jessica!- And sleep and snore, and rend apparel out- Why, Jessica, I say!”. This interaction is reminiscent of a typical father, daughter conversation since parents are often portrayed to remind their children to do things properly, or scold them when such activities are performed incorrectly. We can also see how Shylock perceives himself to be master when he leaves Jessica with the keys to the house, telling her to watch the house carefully since he feels something bad may happen while he is gone. This is shown when he states, “There are my keys.” and “Jessica, my girl, Look to my house. I am right loath to go. There is some ill a-brewing towards my rest, For I did dream of money bags tonight”. This may also show how Shylock perceives himself to be a father since if we look at it from a different perspective, he may not be as worried about the house as he is with his daughter’s safety.
Shylock says, “Hear you me, Jessica. Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum And the vile squealing of the wry-necked fife, Clamber not you up to the casements then, Nor thrust your head into the public street”. This shows that Shylock had both the intention of protecting his house as well as protecting his daughter. This is an interesting way for Shakespeare to characterise Shylock, since the audience may have simply seen Shylock as being worried about his house, thinking he was ordering Jessica around as a “master” to make sure the house is well guarded. But, by looking at it from an alternative perspective, one can see that Shylock may have been acting as a father, giving a reason for Jessica to lock the house and make sure she is safe while he is away. This was a great way to play on the stereotype of Jewish people mostly taking their possessions into consideration: by blurring the boundaries between the two possible intentions of his words through the use of anti semitism at the time.

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