Merchant Of Venice Mercy And Justice Essay

When discussing the matters of the law, one must accept what is written in the law books which are accepted by the people or rulers of the country. Laws are written in order to protect people from harm or unfairness. "Justice" is a word that connotes strength and fairness while "Mercy" seems to present itself as a weak idea reserved for victims. Justice is an idea that people call for when they feel they have been treated unfairly and want the law to fix the problems between two factions. Mercy is a gift of forgiveness not truly understood or given easily. Along these lines of thinking enters Shylock who demands justice but is asked to give mercy. Christianity and Judaism also clash in the debate as to what should hold stronger under Antonio's unfortunate circumstances.The irony comes in when a person who thinks that the law is on his side forgets mercy and demands justice. Justice systems would lose the trust of the people if it handed out mercy all of the time. Thus, when Shylock refuses to accept anything other than Antonio's pound of flesh, Portia says, "A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine;/ The court awards it, and the law doth give it"(IV.i.307-308).

The only way that justice can be satisfied is if payment for any contract is paid. Luckily, Justice doesn't care who pays the debt, only that the contract is fulfilled. This is why Portia gave Bassanio permission to offer 6,000 ducats! She thought that any man would be willing to accept double the contract and release Antonio from the contract. Only if Shylock had dropped the case could the law back away from executing itself.

Sadly, Shylock was blind-sided by a law that he didn't know about which turns the tide against him and forces him into a position of asking for mercy. If Venitian law had not demanded that no blood should be shed, then Shylock would have had his justified way. The only two ways that Justice can be satisfied is if the contract is paid or if the petitioner drops the charges. Justice is blind for equality's sake, but Mercy is subjective and dependant upon the choice of one who would sacrifice something valuable for someone else who is trapped or has nothing of value. Mercy can only overcome Justice when it is freely given by a person's choice. Justice has claim over all who must obey the law.

Justice and Prosperity in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

1545 Words7 Pages

One of the strengths of good theater is its ability to mirror the problems and conditions shaping its time. In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare reflects two important aspects of Elizabethan society: the corrupting influence of prosperity and the increasingly vengeful nature of Venetian justice. To address the former issue, Shakespeare downplays the importance of wealth by associating its involvement in romance with superficial and insubstantial advantages. He characterizes prosperity as a deceiving agent, citing its ability to introduce shallowness into a relationship. Shakespeare reasons that genuine romance depends on sacrifice and emotion, not wealth. The problem with justice is equally striking. In the play, justice is…show more content…

Wealth, therefore, has a flimsy grasp on romance that can easily be overcome with genuine affection. The same is true for Jessica, who steals her father’s gold before she elopes with Lorenzo. After discovering this, Shylock cries out, "My daughter, O my ducats, O my daughter!" (II.viii.15). By associating the antagonist with twisted ideals, Shakespeare creates a stark contrast between the corruption of wealth and the genuineness of love. This contrast reiterates the superficiality of wealth and suggests that its overemphasis can lead to corruption and decay in a relationship.

The drawbacks of money are even more treacherous, because they possess a tendency to shroud true romance with deceptive characteristics. This conflict between shadow and substance emerges when Portia’s suitors attempt to discover the correct casket by relating the characteristics of the different caskets with their conceptions of romance. The Prince of Morocco, for example, selects the golden casket, associating its beauty with Portia’s graces: "But here an angel with a golden bed / Lies all within" (II.vii.64-65). He values the princess only for her wealth, status, and influence; consequently, his understanding of true love takes on a shallow and materialistic form. The simple message contained within this casket– "All that glistens is not gold" (II.vii.73)–affirms the idea that

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