Both in the play and the film, Shylock is presented as a very religious man through the strong language used. ‘[He hates Antonio] for he is a Christian;’ The words ‘a Christian’ suggest that Shylock believes Christians are ‘something’ else which is completely foreign to his own ‘tribe’. Also, when Bassanio asks Shylock to dine with him, Shylock has such a strong reaction and emphasizes on the word ‘you’ in the form of anaphora to state out the big difference between them. As Shylock is saying this speech in the film, he places his left hand on the chest with a steady expression in the eyes as if he is showing his absolute loyalty to God.
When Antonio first appears in the play, Shylock speaks in the form of soliloquy to tell the audience his real thought. ‘If [he] can catch [Antonio] upon the hip, [he] will feed fat the ancient grudge [he] [bears] him.’ The audience is shocked by how cruel and strong the revenge is, especially the word ‘fat’ gives us a disgusting image that we would almost feel sick of how psychotic Shylock is.
Surprisingly, this terrifying soliloquy has been left out in the film. Instead, the hatred is revealed to the viewers through the (close-camera / camera-shot?) on the wide-opened staring eyes of Shylock and his deep, heavy tone when he answers Bassanio, ‘I am debating of my present store,’. Of course, the effect is far less powerful than the words.
Then Shylock begins to talk about the way he has been mistreated, like a ‘stranger cur’, as well as in the film where he has been expressed to be even more pitiful. When they walk into Shylock’s office from the noisy crowded street, the background of the office immediately draws the audience’s attention- it is dark and messy with only a few barbed windows as if the room is a prison. Then Shylock uses a heavy and pale tone to talk about his mistreatment like a prisoner begging for mercy! The language, atmosphere and the tone have made Shylock seem a lot weaker than both the audience and viewers have possibly expected, and due to the human nature, men always tend to protect the weak people so the audience would probably be quite sympathetic with Shylock despite his previous negative image.
The audience probably would have been convinced that Shylock is actually the naï¿½ve. ‘Why look how you storm! I would be friends with you, and have your love…’ what an kind offer that sounds like, especially when he outstretches his arms as if he would give Antonio all he has!
However, his image soon turns to malevolent after he has demanded ‘an equal bound of Antonio’s fair flesh’ as a forfeit. The audience immediately realises that Shylock has not forgotten about the revenge at all, and the words ‘fair flesh’ actually mean ‘good flesh’ because Antonio is a ‘good’ Christian. We are absolutely unsettled and horrified by the evilness of the hypocritical Jew.
Yet in the film, Shylock just casually stands up and grabs the contract as he announces the bound with a short pause before he says ‘an equal pound of your fair flesh’. All this seems to convince the viewers that Shylock says it as a ‘joke’ which has just gone up his mind in an attempt to make Shylock look much more reasonable.
On the other hand, Antonio is expressed to be a lot weaker in his religious compared to Shylock as he ‘breaks the custom of neither lending nor borrowing’ for Bassanio. Yet his loving and amiable characteristic is so much stronger and is shown fully which totally fulfils the audience’s expectation of a protagonist.
Nevertheless, when Antonio admits that he will spit and kick again, the audience is probably disappointed of knowing his negative side. How could a ‘hero’ be so mean-spirited and prejudiced against someone different? Yet Antonio does show his honesty on a fair side. In the film, Antonio is annoyed with Shylock’s words and is eager to speak out his thought, showing his noble and truthful characteristic compared to the two-faced Jew.
But the atmosphere is soon filled with anxiety as Antonio says, ‘Exact the penalty.’ After having heard the evil soliloquy, the word ‘penalty’ is like putting an image for the end! Although Antonio is so confident, the audience can easily sense the danger and think Antonio is arrogant and stupid!
When shylock announces the bound in the film, however, there is a (camera-shot / close camera?) on Antonio, showing the quick change of expression from arrogant to anxious, especially when he bites his thumb with a frozen and uneasy smile, the viewers are certain that Antonio is deeply troubled. Again, this also shows the great paternal love between Antonio and bassanio!
Bassanio is vital for the audience to deeply understand the relationship between Shylock and Antonio.
When Shylock says, ‘Antonio is a good man-‘, Bassanio’s reaction shows that ‘good’ means morally good in the Christian society where as in the Jewish culture, ‘good’ means being able to pay back!, stating their huge difference both is religious and thoughts, as well as shaping the avaricious image of Jews.
In the film, Antonio and Shylock do not speak to each other straight away. Instead, Bassanio is used as a connection between them, showing their complicated relationship- disrespect, hatred and suspicious.
Also, Bassanio connects the audience to the stage by bringing in their thoughts and feelings. ‘This were kindness.’ As well as the intensed expression with the deep tone shown closely in the film when Antonio takes the bound. This is all representing the audience. On the other hand, he also lets Antonio fully express his unconditional love.