One of the possible interpretations of the speech is the idea of Shylock impolitely breaking out of the position of being the scared little kid at the back of the class, and taking a courageous stand against the schoolyard bullies. The performers in the scene could ask the questions in the speech to the other characters, emphasizing that they need to understand what Shylock wants. During the speech, Shylock makes it clear that his hatred is born of what he sees as Notation’s bullying behavior.
Shylock is portrayed as an angry, yet weak man, as he is hated by the Venetians, despised for his religion, culture, and profession, and he is even betrayed by his daughter, and at the ND of the day, undone by the very city in which he lives, but these set of unfair treatments sets up his position of power in the trial. Shylock has previously been called a dog, been spat on, and gotten trash talked about, especially by Antonio, which would therefore give good reason for his human instinct to look forward to taking revenge.
This is where Shylock is shown to have won the audience as well as the characters’ hearts, with complete and utter sympathy, by convincing us that all he wants is justice; pure and simple. While Shakespeare does a marvelous job of cracking open a layer of a foolish stereotype, he does not forget that he has an audience to please, and that this audience detests diverting from their premature beliefs and ideals.
The performers in the scene could ask the questions in the speech to the audience, emphasizing that they need sympathy from the whole world, disregarding the anti-Semitic views on the topic. With this, Shakespeare returns to the villainous and corrupt role of the Jewish moneylender once again, as the denouement of his speech is a promise to behave as badly as he Venetians, and he even says he will “better the instruction,” which worsens the situation by entirely removing the sympathy the audience had shown toward him, even with spectacular reasoning for his actions.
By this he means not to rise above their standards and gain leverage, but to actually do the exact opposite thing and sink down to the same level that the Christian characters (who have been accused of hypocrisy), and the fact that he does this sets up the plot for the rest of the story, eventually sending him to trial cause he didn’t do the right thing and made a terrible decision. While looking at the speech from a very Shylock-centric perspective, many have missed that this speech may be intended to exploit the truth about Christian society of the Elizabethan era.
Christians in the era, as presented by the character of Shylock, assume that they are above and beyond everybody else, as if they have simply accomplished to acquire the title of a ‘noble species’. The performers in the scene could ask the questions in the speech to themselves emphasizing that they need nobody else to help them and purport them in their ventures again irrational and ignorant thoughts. This would show that Jews put up with life, lose blood, and pass away just like Christians do, and are just as vulnerable to the urge for payback.
Schlock’s main purpose in the play is to be villainous. Both Shylock and the Christians have lessons to learn about compassion, meekness, and unassuming behavior. Conclusively, Shylock is an outsider who is on bad terms with everyone – even his own daughter – who is partially the cause of the emotional speech. By the end of the dramatic courtroom scene, Shylock is a Rosen man; he’s humiliated in court, stripped of his wealth, and obliged to convert to Christianity.
The forcefulness of the conversion furthermore shows how even at the end of day, the Christians do not approve of any other religions under any circumstances. Of course, back in the day, the audience must have been used to the constant mockery towards the Jews, along with the narrow-mindedness in trying to understand their situation. Audiences of today’s society, knowing about the anti-Semitic historical events such as the holocaust, and other times where Jews have been discriminated especially ever the past century, will sympathize with Shylock more than ever before.