The Merchant of Venice - Trial Scene Essay

1346 Words Jul 22nd, 2010 6 Pages
Kimberley Williamson

“The Merchant of Venice”

Analyse how ONE main character’s attempts to solve a problem were important to the text as a whole.

In the text, “The Merchant of Venice,” written and performed by Shakespeare, Antonio, the merchant, borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, to send his friend Bassanio overseas to woo and marry Portia. However, failing to pay back the money in time, Shylock takes Antonio to court demanding a pound of his flesh in payment. Portia, one of the main characters, disguised as a lawyer, attempts (and succeeds) to rescue Antonio using the law to her advantage. This scene is important to the text as a whole, as it brings into question and explains some of the main themes used in the
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Shylock is then trapped by the law with which he had only moments ago controlled to his advantage. When asking if that is truly what the law stated, Portia replies to him, “Thyself shalt see the act. For as thou urgest justice, be assured thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest.” Then, true justice is given to Shylock, however not of the sort he wanted. While the Duke and Antonio save him from the penalty of death, he still must give all his property and fortune to his daughter and son-in-law, and he also must become a Christian. The importance of the law and in turn justice, are shown through Portia’s attempts to save Antonio, as she is able to manipulate the laws to produce good. However, it also shows how it can be equally used for wrong purposes by the wrong people and the repercussions that could evolve from this. Justice was in the end served rightly, but also could have been given to Shylock had events not happened as they did, and this shows the importance of these two themes to the text as a whole.

Religion

The conflict of the Christian population of Venice against the Jewish beliefs of Shylock, introduces a religious aspect in this text, which climaxes in the scene where Portia saves Antonio in court. All along, Shylock mocks Christians with a bitter hatred and rage fueled by Antonio’s previous racist comments, and his daughter’s elopement

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