Shylock is an alien and an outsider - a Jew in Christian society. Shylock, although he does not have that much stage time, is the star of the piece - he has all the best lines. His key speeches show his humanity. He is a living, breathing human being, with feelings and emotions just like everyone else. He is a human, not a cur. Played the right way, the play shows why Shylock ended up filled with hatred and revenge - because of the way he was treated by Christian society. Shylock, for me, is a sympathetic character, whom you empathise with and feel for.
Anyway, I thought I would post a painting and a photo that shows a side of Shylock that is rarely brought out - that of the loving and doting father.
Picture credit: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/shylock
Maurycy Gottlieb (1856-1879) was a Jewish painter of Polish-speaking Galician Jews from the western part of Ukraine. At twenty, he won a gold medal from a Munich art competition for Shylock and Jessica (the painting above), showing a scene from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. He based Jessica's face on that of Laura Rosenfeld, to whom he had proposed marriage. However, Rosenfeld rejected his proposal, and wed a Berlin banker. Gottlieb then planned to marry Lola Rosengarten, but when he heard about Rosenfeld's marriage he committed suicide by exposure to the elements, dying of complications from a cold.
The National Theatre photo may well have been based on Maurycy Gottlieb's painting and, even if not, bears a striking resemblance to it. This particular NT production is one of my all time favourite versions of The Merchant of Venice and stars Henry Goodman as Shylock and Gabrielle Jourdan as Jessica.