Shylock - (n)

1.) A loan-shark.

2.) A character from The Merchant of Venice.

He is historically played with a large nose and red hair, though in our more educated times, his attire has been less comical. Shylock, a Jew, and moneylender by trade, lends Bassanio 3000 ducats upon the credit of Bassanio's best friend, Antonio. For this he demands a pound of Antonio's flesh should the bargain be forfeit. In the end, Shylock is forced to convert to Christianity and will all of his belongings to his eloped daughter upon his death.

Though Shylock is technically the antagonist in the play, it is easy to sympathize with his plight. During this period in history, Jews were harassed, killed, spit upon, and treated little better than animals (unless of course someone wanted to borrow some money). Antonio has spit upon him in the past, stolen his customers by lending money to them without interest, stolen one of Shylock's servants, who then elopes with his only daughter.

Shylock's original intentions in the loan were to actually befriend a Christian and make an ally of his enemy Antonio. The pound of flesh was merely some merry sport that they both agreed to. It is only when Shylock is robbed of his principle, his daughter, and his servant that he demands in rage to be given his due: the pound of flesh.

Unfortunately, he neglected to mention blood in the contract, and thusly was unable to collect.