Shylock's demand for rigorous justice comes across as inhuman, bestial, and 'wolvish
', and contrasts sharply with the Christians' plea for mercy.
Even in the absence of literal brothers, male rivalry 'repeatedly takes on the metaphorical coloration of fratricide specifically among twins, and murderous impulses play out in a landscape repeatedly associated with wolvish
Slurs on their legitimacy soon fall short and Lear resorts to bestial comparisons that recall Lucretius's destabilizing vision of nature, should one permit the gods to meddle in the world: "Wolvish
visage," "Sharp-toothed unkindness, like a vulture," "most serpent-like," "pelican daughters," he terms them (1.4.288, 2.2.334, 3.4.71).
Tho when as Lowder was farre awaye, This Wolvish
sheepe would catchen his prey, A Lambe, or a Kidde, or a weanell wast: With that to the wood would he speede him fast.
The author of Deor remembers him as a grim cyning (ferocious king, 23b) who is known for his wylfenne gepoht (wolvish
disposition, 22a), in probable allusion to the marriage of which Widsith speaks.