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Merchant Of Venice By William Shakespeare

1033 words - 4 pages

William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is a story about man seeking justice for the forfeiture of his bond. Shylock the Jew created a bond loaning three thousand ducats to his rival Antonio. In the event that the loan could not be paid back, Shylock was entitled to a “pound of flesh from the breast” of Antonio. Antonio’s invested the money in his merchant ships hoping to gain profit. Unfortunately he loses his ships at sea, losing everything Shylock had loaned him. Shylock happily takes Antonio to court in hopes of receiving that pound of flesh as a result of the forfeiture of his bond. However due to manipulation of the court by an illegitimate lawyer, Shylock is ruled as the guilty party of the case. Shylocks’ sentencing from the court is an act of abuse and bias while not necessarily being justified.
One significant argument that proves the bias within the Venetian court comes directly in the beginning of the court scene. The Duke, who plays the role of a judge, announces to Antonio that he is at the hands of a merciless person (Shylock): “I am sorry for thee. Thou art come to answer a stone adversary, an inhuman wretch, uncapable of pity, void and empty from any dam of mercy.”(4.1-2-6) As the judge of this court, the Duke should always be impartial to both parties of the court regardless of their religion, social status, etc. In this case the Duke is clearly in favor of helping Antonio even though the bond declared that Shylock was in his rights to obtain a pound of his flesh. In the Dukes final effort to persuade Shylock he ends his speech by saying he expects a “gentle answer, Jew” (4-1.34) This is another example of the Duke flexing his authority to force Shylock to give in and take mercy upon Antonio. The reference to Shylock as “Jew” is a disrespectful and a prejudice remark coming from the judge of the court. The Duke does not refer to Antonio as “Christian” or any other person he speaks to for that matter by the name of their religion. Clearly there is some form of resentment coming from the Duke to Shylock.
Shylock’s argument to the Duke later on in the scene defends his right to receive justice, which means legally he owns a pound of Antonio’s flesh. The impartial Duke once again tries to bend the law by persuading Shylock to take Bassanio’s offer of six thousand ducats to compensate for the three thousand Antonio owes him. Shylock counters with a key point arguing that the Duke and other higher position authorities own slaves and no one could not tell them how to treat them because they own them:”You have among you many a purchased slave…you use in abject and in slavish parts, Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, ‘Let them be free!’…You will answer ‘The Slaves are ours’.” (4.1-90-9) According to the laws of Venice, which all should abide by, Shylock owns that flesh and no person, not even the judge, has the right to tell him what to do with it. Once again the court is...

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