There is a stark contrast in the way that Antonio and Shylock interact with each other in act 1 scene 3 compared to act 3 scene 3. There are many differences in the way that they speak to each other but the main stem of all of these changes is that Antonio and Shylock have switched places in their social hierarchy. Antonio was initially the dominant character and Shylock submissive however, in act 3 scene 3, these positions are flipped and Shylock is now the dominant character in the interaction and Antonio the submissive.
Through Shylock’s soliloquy we can tell that he bears a hatred for Antonio – ‘I hate him for he is a Christian’. The significance of Antonio’s religion being intrinsic to Shylock’s hate for him is that this brings out the persecution that Jews are subjected to in their society. Despite this, on the surface, he in fact says that ‘Antonio is a good man’ and when he is actually in contact with Antonio, he says, ‘I would be friends with you, and have your love’. This shows that Shylock is disguising his hatred of Antonio to give him a false sense of security about the bond only being ‘in a merry sport’. He is also displaying a false kindness towards Antonio which Antonio returns in the same manner and their anger towards each other lies under the surface; we can sense it’s presence but neither character show it forcefully. This also results in Shylock showing that anger in a more discreet, sardonic way. Using this sarcasm, Shylock impersonates Antonio by saying ‘Shylock we would have monies’, this mocks Antonio for needing money from the man he abuses and mistreats. Moreover, Shylock having to disguise his anger reinforces the second class citizenship that Jews have in society at the time as Shylock cannot display his anger towards Antonio bluntly because Antonio is a Christian.
Later, in act 3 scene 3, when Shylock has the law on his side in relation to the bond, he exchanges his sarcasm for directness and a considerably more threatening tone. Instead of more subtly mocking Antonio which gives the audience a sense of the sinister undercurrent in Shylock’s agenda, he is clearly angry and threatening – ‘But since I am a dog beware my fangs’. Here Shylock does still display some sarcasm by accentuating the irony of the role reversal but the threats are now clear.
Furthermore, in act 1 scene 3, Shylock does not place much emphasis on the bond, he doesn’t make it seem as though it’s an incredibly important matter. Of course, we get a sense that it means a fair amount because Shylock is having to loan the money himself from Tubal, another Jew, but we don’t get the sense that this an important event in Shylock’s life or even a substantially important loan for his business. It comes across as though it doesn’t matter that much to Shylock despite us knowing through the soliloquy that he has seen his chance to get revenge on Antonio and is using the bond for this. However, in act 3 scene 3, we see clearly the significance of the bond to Shylock as he repeats the words ‘I will have my bond’ multiple times and will not listen to Antonio’s pleas. We also know that ‘I will have my bond’ is not Shylock saying that he will see his money returned, it is in fact a disguise for him saying that he will enforce the penalty of the bond and kill Antonio; he is essentially saying ‘I’ll kill you’.
Through these huge changes in the interactions between Antonio and Skylock we can draw the conclusion that Shylock has moved from the submissive position to the dominant position between act 1 scene 3 and act 3 scene 3. However, he does drop back to being in the submissive position later in the play. It can also be said that the bond was a ploy to be able to lawfully kill Antonio and that once Shylock has the law on his side he can display his hatred for Antonio whereas before, he couldn’t because of the persecution of Jews in society at the time.