Question: How would you describe Shylock in the early scenes of the play?
Answer: In the first two scenes in which Shylock appears, he is as hard, as cold, and as keen as glittering steel. Throughout the play the effects of his intensely active intellect are to be seen; for every word he utters hits the mark with a
suddenness and an unerring precision that is at once startling and terrifying. But in these early scenes, before his
passions are roused to activity, he is shown as the shrewd business man ready and willing to sacrifice anything for the
sake of his idol, money. In each one of the sudden moves he makes in I. iii., in his rapid, but sure calculation of the
relative value of mercantile ventures, in his quick perception of his advantage over the Christian who would borrow of
him, in his shrewd defence of his use of the interest system, in the wily and plausible way in which he drives the proud
merchant into the snare he has set for him, the acuteness of intellect and promptness of action which came so near
making him the victor over Antonio are apparent. So in I.v., the mean littlenesses into which avarice will betray a man
are clearly shown.
How to cite this article:
Miller, Bessie Porter. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/merchant/examqm/vfour.html >.