PR – Merchant of Venice Play

Prior to the introduction of, the Merchant of Venice, by Shakespeare, we were tasked to give a verdict regarding a bully and his victim. The exercise helps us ease into the correct mindset to explore the important topic of which the play addresses. The topic addressed being the contrast of Jews and Christians and how their ideology differs regarding justice and mercy in their everyday life. While going over both a movie and the script of the play with others, many different contradicting emotions are evoked by everyone and during the progression of the play. The emotions created while we follow Shylock through the use of diction and imagery prevails throughout the play.

When we were first introduced to Shylock, the Jewish moneylender, who faces prejudice and discrimination throughout the play, Bassanio, a Christian man under Antonio, a well-off merchant asks for bound for 3000 ducats (Act 1, scene 3, ll. 1-2). Almost immediately, we see a clash between Shylock, the Jewish man and the Christians as Shylock responses to Bassanio with, “Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into,” after a feast invitation (Act 1, scene 3, ll. 29-30). The ridicule creates a sense of displeasure towards Shylock. However, his actions is explained after we learn that Antonio addresses him as a “cut-throat dog” and spits on his face.

During the negotiation of Shylock and Antonio, we are given a sense of Shylock forgiving Antonio as he allows Antonio to borrow the 3000 ducats without interest due to his religion. However, we are quickly revolted as Shylock asks for “a pound of flesh” as collateral, which Antonio agrees to after Shylock exclaims how he meant “his friendship, not his flesh.” However, after we see Shylock lose his daughter and a large amount of ducats, Shylock went back on his words and asks for the pound of flesh off Antonio. When we watch the court case between Shylock and Antonio, with Portia as Antonio’s lawyer, we feel as if Shylock is going overboard, but feel for Shylock after the contradiction of the mercy system.