William Shakespeare has created numerous immortal characters. Shylock is one of them. He is called a complete character. He is the villain of 'The Merchant of Venice'.
Shylock is a prominent character who dominates the entire play. He is a Jew to the core. He is a true lover of his religion. But at the same time he is a very cruel man. He lends money to the needy fellow and charges heavy interest. To earn money is the chief motto of his life. He worships only the goddesses of wealth. Thus he is a peculiar man who loves nothing but money.
Shylock is not a respected man at all. Nobody has sympathy with him due to his behavior. He is hated by the Christians and he has also great hatred for them. For Antonio his hatred is at climax. He wants to take revenge upon Antonio. Thus vengefulness is a striking trait of his character.
Once Shylock gets a golden opportunity to take revenge upon Antonio. When Antonio's bond is forfeited, he tries to take his life. He wants to take a pound of flesh from his bosom. He has no mercy in his heart. In the trial scene Portia and others appeal him to show mercy upon Antonio. But he does not move even an inch. Thus he is a shrewd, cruel and heartless fellow.
Shylock is not an ideal father. He does not believe even his daughter Jessica. She is a romantic girl who loves a Christian. But Shylock puts barrier before her. To Jessica, her father's house is a prison and hell. She has to elope with her lover against the wishes of her father. Thus he is a heartless wretch.
The analysis of Shylock's character shows his human side too. Antonio hates him and calls him a cut throat dog. He condemns his trade, insults him publicly and spites on his face. He has been unjustly treated. Thus his anger against Antonio is not unnatural at all. He has deep love for his daughter also. Thus he wants to save her from the grip of the Christians. He has love and honor even for his dead wife. Thus this character can’t be totally condemned.
Thus Shylock is a very complex and a very powerful character of the play. He is a beautiful mixture of good and evil. He is more sinned against than sinning.