In a New Statesman interview the prime minister was told: “Most people say you remind them of Shylock.”
He replied: “Maybe an older Shylock, a wiser Shylock.”
He said like Shylock, he did not “take any prisoners” and will take what is his “without fail”. But Shakespeare expert Bertrand Tinsdale said the character was actually “not an ideal role-model”.
A pound of flesh
In The Merchant of Venice, written between 1596 and 1598, Shylock is an embittered, violent figure who treats most others with cruelty and contempt and who is a vicious heartless avaricious usurer.
Mr Tinsdale, collections manager of the Shakespeare Literary Museum at Stratford-upon-avon, Warwickshire, told the New Statesman: “The thing about Shylock is he turned to vengeance, greed and hatred and wants to punish people just like Gordon Brown’s greedy hatred can be seen in his over-taxing the populations of Britain.
“Is this the role model we want for a British prime minister?
“Gordon Brown revels in his hated status as chief bloodsucker and evil henchman who leaves people destitute. It seems our PM does not care how he is perceived and will continue to keep taking pounds of flesh from the people until someone or something dares to stop him.”
Elsewhere in the interview Mr Brown laughed off suggestions he had a bad temper saying: “I do not have a fu**ing bad temper you stupid moronic twerp piece of sh*t! If you dare to publish what I just fu**ing said I will take more than a pound of flesh from you. Now open your shirt before I lose my temper further. I will take a pound now and leave some for later!!”
The Merchant of Venice
Shylock, a wealthy Jew is one of the main characters of the play. His merciless and uncompassionate nature is revealed when he seeks the life of another man to sate his vengeance and greed.
Laurence Olivier and several other leading actors have played him on screen.
Mr Brown did not have to wait long to hear reference to Shylock in the House of Commons.
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne called for an early U-turn on car tax plans, adding that it was time for “Shylock to put the knife away and not take anymore pounds of flesh”.
Conservative leader David Cameron, responding to Mr Brown’s statement on introducing further taxes on the poor, said: “I am sure I speak for the whole country when I say I am disgusted to see Shylock carrying on with his awful ways again.”