Merchant Of Venice Essay

1089 words - 5 pages

The Merchant of Venice written by William Shakespeare takes place in Italy in the late 1500s. The play focuses on 4 main characters: Antonio, Bassanio, Shylock and Portia. Antonio is a Venetian merchant who is in love with his best friend. Bassanio is the best friend of Antonio and the husband of Portia. Shylock is a Jewish moneylender and is hated by the people of Venice due to his religion. Lastly, there is Portia, wealth woman from Belmont. She is forced, by her father’s will, to marry the suitor who chooses the correct casket. Bassanio ends up being the lucky suitor and gets to marry Portia. Soon after the marriage they receive news of Antonio's appending sentence to death. Portia ...view middle of the document...

(4.1.198-209)
In Italy, a “good man” is a devout Christian. Portia (as Balthasar) shows that she is a loyal Christian and preaches to the court, one of the main components of Christianity: mercy. In the Old Testament, God is considered merciful and gracious and is praised for it as well as the idea of the mercy of God flows through the work of the Holy Spirit. Portia references mercy as “an attribute to God himself”, that mercy is a quality of God and therefore humans should seek to be merciful. Displaying mercy is better than seeking justice; furthermore forgiveness is better than revenge. It is clear to the court that Shylock is only seeking revenge and that is main focus in following through with the bond. The hunger for revenge furthers the separation between Portia and Shylock. He does not care about “salvation” or “pray[ing] for mercy”, which Portia tries to convince him to. Portia’s preaching of Christianity to the Jew, makes her look good to the court but it has no effect on Shylock. It was smart of Portia to start her time in the courtroom with religious propaganda because it made her look like a intelligent man; as in all intelligent well respected men where Christian’s and new the importance of mercy.
Portia saves Antonio's life through her wit and intelligence. Shylock ignores Portia preaching of mercy over justice and demands the bond to be fulfilled. Portia rules that Shylock has the right to claim a pound of flesh according to the bond, but only flesh. She explains that he cannot sled any of Antonio’s blood: “...Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more/But just a pound of flesh. If thou takest more/Or less than a just pound, be it but so much/As makes it light or heavy in the substance…” (4.1. 338-341). Portia’s brilliance is shown by her saying “Shed thou no blood, nor cut thou less nor more”. She finds a loophole in the bond between Antonio and Shylock, that Shylock can only cut an exact pound of flesh and no blood can we...

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