In the scene between Portia and Shylock, we see that Shylock denies Antonio of any medical help in case he bleeds to death. He says it is not in the bond so he is not providing help. We see Shylock’s revenge because he wants Antonio to suffer as much as Shylock has suffered and will continue to suffer as we continue to read. Shylock later on pays for it when Portia tells him he is only allowed a pound of flesh and it doesn’t allowed for any blood being spilled. If blood is spilled then he would be conspiring against the life of a Venetian citizen and all his lands and goods would be confiscated by the government. Time after time we see Shylock being brought down.
Many will consider him a villain, but is he a true villain? I don’t consider Shylock a villain because he didn’t do anything wrong. He is a person just like you and me, but because of his religion he is singled out and can’t live a normal life. Shylock has revealed before that, “You call me misbeliever, cut-throat, dog, and spit upon my Jewish gabardine” (1.3 107-108), all because Shylock is Jewish. The only wrong Shylock could have possibly done was asking for a pound of flesh from Antonio. Shylock continues to put down when the Duke says whatever Antonio says, he will agree with it. Antonio says that he can keep half of his property but when he dies he has to give it to his daughter Jessica and her husband, Lorenzo, while the other half of his property goes to the government. Antonio also tells Shylock that he has to immediately convert to Christianity. If any of us were in Shylock’s shoes and people were treating us the way Antonio treated Shylock, we would want revenge on that person.
I believe the true villains in this play are Antonio and his friends. He took away anything that defined Shylock the man he is. Shylocks house, money, and religion are all taken away from him because of Antonio. Antonio and the rest of his men are supposed to be Christians, but they are not acting Christian like. I understand that Shylock wasn’t being merciful when he said he wouldn’t provide medical attention for Antonio. However, Antonio is using this time to get back revenge on Shylock and isn’t being merciful either and stripped Shylock from anything he owned. Now Shylock has nothing to his name, while Antonio can continue with his business and gets to keep everything of his, meaning his pound of flesh.
In the end, Portia asks Shylock if he is content with the outcome and Shylock responds “I am content” (4.1, 389). However, that is the only answer he can give because if says anything against being content he could be killed. Also, he has nothing left to his name and he has no other choice but to say that he is content. He is also just telling the Antonio and his friends exactly what they want to hear because they aren’t satisfied until they have beaten Shylock down to nothing. So after reading this scene, I believe the true villains in this play are Antonio and his friends because they enjoy seeing Shylock suffer.