Merchant of Venice Act4 Scene1 Summary

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In William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venise there were a lot of important scenes. But the ‘Trial scene’ was perceived to be the most important scene in the play. The playwright uses this scene to convey a number of key ideas such as Jews vs Christians, Mercy vs Justice and Appearance vs Reality. In addition the ‘Trial scene’ exposes the personalities of main characters. Furthermore, this scene is the highlight of the play and provides an excellent climax to the play which the audiences would enjoy. After Jessica’s elopement, Shylock’s revenge has gone too far to stop as he blames Antonio. There is nothing the Christians can do to make Shylock feel compassion and forget the bond and to accept a monetary repayment instead. In the play Antonio has just been arrested and faces his death as he forfeited the bond. Bassanio and Portia on the other hand have just wedded and it is a happy time in their lives. Despair falls on them when Antonio’s letter arrives confirming that he has lost the bond. Act 4 Scene 1 commences with the trial of Antonio in a Venetian court of justice. This is the scene where Shylock is to take his forfeiture from Antonio.  Antonio's friends and even the Duke beg Shylock to have mercy but Shylock declines for the simple reason that he hates Antonio. Antonio wishes his friends to beg no more as he is resigned to his fate.  Nerissa then arrives disguised as a lawyer's clerk with a letter claiming that the lawyer who was supposed to oversee the case is ill and has sent a young man of good intellect to stand in his place.  This young man is Portia in disguise as Balthazar.  Portia asks Shylock for his mercy but he stands firm.  She then says that by the laws of Venice he is legally entitled to his pound of flesh, but no more, including even ‘one drop of blood’. Realising that he is beaten by his own game, Shylock asks simply for the money (offered by Bassanio) and forego the pound of flesh.  Portia pushes on, insisting that Shylock must take the...
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