One of Shakespeare’s famous works – The Merchant of Venice takes place in Venice, Italy where is an international trading spot during the 16th century. Venice is a central trading district for most naval trades, it is also a place full of prejudice and discrimination. Compare to Canada, I think Canada is a way better place to live since people accept each others differences and create a peaceful environment, not like Venice. People in Venice give me a feeling that they only care about money, instead of other people. Venice does not seem appealing for me to live, it seems frightening. The tension between Jewish and Christian is everlasting and endless in Venice.
Self-interest versus love is one of the theme in the play. In act 2 scene VIII, Shylock agonizes his money rather than his daughter. I found it hilarious when I was reading this scene. I could not understand people who care about money more than a live. Shylock is also willing to take a pound of flesh off a person which shows his obsession of money, and ignorant to love and other things.
This play discusses the tension between justice and mercy, represents by the conflict between the Jewish and Christian. Two of my most profound scenes of the play is when Shylock’s monologue in Act 3 scene I. The Christian characters show prejudice towards Shylock. I sympathize Shylock’s misfortune. His speech strongly engraves into my heart and I can feel the way he feels, prejudiced by people due to his identity. However, at the same time, Shylock is also willing to execute a cruel punishment on Antonio, which is cutting a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body. In act 4, Portia, as the judge of the court, saves Antonio from giving a pound of flesh. She starts her speech with “The quality of mercy is not strained” (act 4, scene I,line 179), which explains the issue at hand in the discussion. This raises a debate, justice verses mercy. Which one is more important? Can we live without one of them? If no, how can we balance justice and mercy. For me, I think justice without mercy is cruel, mercy without justice is profusion. Nevertheless, Shakespere does not specify whether Shylock or Portia is the representative of just or mercy. Judge symbolizes justice, judge with mercy is the key. At the end of the play, Shylock cannot get a pound of flesh from Antonio, who is guilty from the agreement with Shylock for borrowing money. Does it mean one side, mercy is greater than justice? This play is also considered controversial, and some people think it is anit-semitic as Shylock seems like a victim at the end.