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In the play, The Merchant of Venice, there are two central themes, Vengeance and Mercy.
Shylock is the king of vengeance. The contract he has Antonio sign show us his crude sense of revenge. “Go with me to a notary, seal m there your single bond and In a merry sport, if you repay me not on such a day, in such a place, such sum or sums ars are expressed in the condition let the forfeit be nominated for an equal pound of your flesh, to be cut off and taken in what part of your body please me.
” Like Professor NAME mentioned in the lecture, Jews align their beliefs to that of the old testament. Vengeance is gained by an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. He has built up a hatred towards Antonio for many reasons. Antonio has previously insulted Shylock by spitting on him in public. He has never been kind to Shylock due to his race.
At the culmination of the play in the court room, he explains his righteous wish for vengeance to the Christians in the room by saying, “He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation”.
In contrast, the Christians of the play are painted as merciful and full of grace. Like Professor NAME mentioned in the lecture, Christianity is based on mercy, charity and forgiveness. Christians follow the new testament where Jesus calls his followers to love their neighbor as themselves, to turn the other cheek and show mercy.
In the play, Antonio wrongs Shylock and in turn pleads for mercy. Portia takes a moment to explain the importance of mercy to try to save Antonio by explaining its utter importance. “The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. It is an attribute to God himself; therefore Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this, that in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation: we do pray for mercy; And at that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy…”. And although Portia preaches on mercy, she shows Shylock no mercy at the end of the court scene. She bested Shylock and refrains from showing him mercy by saying, “He shall have merely justice and his bond.” It is here that the audience understands Shylock’s lack of belief that Christians are merciful but rather hypocritical.
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