I don't see Shylock as comic or a villain. My interpretation of
Shylock is someone who has been abused, victimized, and
through his rage gets hoisted by his own petard. To me, it
looks like Shylock is a profoundly depressed man who lost
his wife and is living under the oppression of the Christians
in Venice. His daughter leaves him to marry a Christian.
This allows him the feeling that it's within his right to get
revenge. He's not a happy man, but he has a lot of dignity
and heart and courage. Probably one of the great speeches
ever: "I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew
hands? Organs? Dimensions? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like
you in the rest, we will resemble you in that." It's the most
antiracist speech I've ever heard. Shakespeare could not
help himself from being human; it was his genius.
(from "Premiere," Dec. 2004/ Jan. 2005)