Discuss the moral issues raised in ‘the merchant of Venice’
In William Shakespeare’s ‘the merchant of Venice’ the passage taken from IV.i, outlines three moral issues that are running themes throughout the play. The scene takes place immediately after the dukes appeal to shylock to withdraw his bond. It is followed with portia's speech, which outlines the idea of mercy. Shylocks answer to her illustrates his desire for revenge and Bassanio’s comments highlight the issue of friendship.
Portia’s character is introduced when she intervenes on Antonio’s behalf, disguised as a man of law. She enters disguised this way in order to defend Antonio when shylock refuses to show mercy. The law is on Shylock’s side and therefore shylock refuses to show mercy as he feels that succeeding in his bond will satisfy his long awaited revenge against Antonio. Portia’s speech begins after shylock asks what could possibly compel him to be merciful. Portia explains that mercy is higher than all. She warns Shylock against pursuing the law without regard for mercy. Portia does this by outlining that his pleas for justice wont save his soul, “Though justice be thy plea, consider this—That in the course of justice none of us should see salvation.” She appeals to shylocks heart rather than his head in trying to convince him to give up his case.
Shylocks response to portia's speech shows his calculated attempt to revenge the wrongs done to him by ruthlessly demanding as payment a pound of Antonio’s flesh. His desire or revenge is strong after years of mistreatment from the Christians living in Venice. He is unyielding to mercy and insists the pound of flesh is rightfully his. He wants retaliation for all the derision to which he has been subjected and thinks that his bond with Antonio is his way to get it. Shylock is stubborn with his bond and uses the court of law being on his side in order to obtain it “my deeds upon my head, I crave the law, the penalty and forfeit my bond”...