Shylock, the Jew, is the man that is introduced as the character who will be playing the role of the villain. All he is concerned about is money, what Antonio is worth (apparently 3,000 ducats is worth that much ~ though I am not quite sure how much that would amount to in currency that I am familiar with), what his own money is worth to him, what Bassanio is worth and so on. He is depicted as this cruel character that has no heart and could not possibly understand that Bassanio is just trying to obtain the love of his life and his best friend is attempting to help him in such dire straits. The wolf is revealed in such a way, but our hearts are opened for just a moment when Shylock is concerned about taking the offer. Again, we are aware that Shylock is of the Jewish faith and there doesn’t seem to be a great depiction of such people. Antonio even admits that he has spit on him, he has called him a dog/cut-throat/misbeliever and he goes so far to say that he would do this again when given the chance. Shylock at this point has done nothing but attempt to help this man out. As a reader I began to question the depiction of this villain, mostly can we consider Shylock to be one? There are readers who believe that this man has been given the role of the villain because of what he worships, not perhaps who he is as a person. This is where I myself am torn.
Offers of kindness are given out to Shylock. Bassanio offers “If it please you to dine with us” (27, 1.3), Shylock outright refuses to partake in any courteous adventures with these two men. Now is he being the cruel, evil self or someone who has been tortured for his entire life because he must eat certain foods and there are those who cannot seem to understand his faith. Not moments later there is an aside of Shylock who explains his hatred for Antonio because he is a Christian who gives money away without interest. Is the main source of hatred his religion or perhaps is it the business plan Antonio has is, to say with all cliché intended, sinking. This constant unsure nature of the character Shylock is unearthed in, what seemed to me is, the most unexpected twist in a business plan.
If Antonio goes back on his word with this loan, the price is a slab of his own skin. Now we are starting to see the true evil nature of this one man. A slab of the skin is the price to pay if Antonio does not pay back the debt to Shylock, not taking the threat seriously Antonio is sure that his boats will return soon enough and he will pay. He goes so far to think that “the Hebrew will turn Christian; he grows kind” (174, 1.3), and Shylock is doing this out of the good of his heart. I fear the worse for Antonio due to the fact that this poor Jewish man who we grow some compassion for is about to write out a blood bond for him. Stories of abuse and torture cannot derail the reader from seeing the true evil nature that is lurking under the surface. I can only assume that this deal is foreshadowing something terrible for Antonio and perhaps Bassanio as well.