Justice and the Merchant of Venice

Topics: The Merchant of Venice, Shylock, Portia Pages: 3 (811 words) Published: August 25, 2013
The Merchant of Venice Speech

It has been almost four hundred years since Shakespeare completed the last of his plays. His work however continues to be played to sell out audiences still captivating people. His plays are still taught in schools with eager passion. Many people question the relevance of his work and lingering popularity. So what could a playwright from the seventeenth century have absolutely anything to do with a world full of advancing technology, fast food and materialistic views?

The Merchant of Venice is a realistic play because it shows that life isn’t always fair and things don’t always wrap up neatly. The two main scenes in particular which highlight the ambiguous nature of justice in the play are when Jessica breaks her familial bond with her father and stealing Shylock’s wealth depicts a covenant bound in tradition and loyalty rather than law, while on the other hand the contract between Antonio and Shylock for a ‘pound of flesh’ is an example of a legal and unorthodox contract. The theme of justice as well as mercy are also seen in the play when Portia is acting the part of a Doctor of Laws at court.

Throughout the whole play, Shylock is the epitome of justice as he understands it. Shylock’s reaction to constantly being spat on by the Christians brought him to a locked idea of revenge on them for justice. This can compare to the way humans act when they are bullied or they are being treated below others. Shylock doesn’t give any chances to Antonio when he can’t make the repayment of the three thousand ducats but clearly demands exactly one pound of flesh be paid to him. One of the most memorable quotes from the play was Shylock’s speech in Act 3, Scene 1 to Salario and Salanio “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter...
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