Self-Interest versus Love

On the surface, the key difference between the Christian characters and also Shylock shows up to be that the Christian personalities value person relationships over organization ones, vice versa, Shylock is only interested in money. The Christian characters absolutely view the issue this way. Merchants like Antonio lend money free of interest and also put us at threat for those lock love, whereas Shylock agonizes end the lose of his money and is reported to run through the highways crying, “O, my ducats! O, mine daughter!” (II.viii.15). V these words, he reportedly values his money at the very least as much as his daughter, suggesting that his greed outweighs his love. However, upon closer inspection, this supposed difference between Christian and also Jew division down. Once we watch Shylock in plot III, step i, that seems more hurt by the truth that his daughter offered a ring the was offered to that by his dead wife before they to be married 보다 he is by the ns of the ring’s monetary value. Some human being relationships do indeed matter come Shylock an ext than money. Moreover, his insistence that he have actually a lb of flesh quite than any amount of money shows that his resentment is lot stronger than his greed.

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Just as Shylock’s personality seems hard to pen down, the Christian characters likewise present one inconsistent picture. Despite Portia and also Bassanio concerned love one another, Bassanio seeks her hand in the first place since he is monstrously in debt and also needs her money. Bassanio even asks Antonio come look at the money the lends Bassanio as an investment, though Antonio insists the he lends the the money exclusively out of love. In various other words, Bassanio is worried to check out his relationship with Antonio as a issue of company rather 보다 of love. Finally, Shylock eloquently says that Jews are people just as Christians are, but Christians such as Antonio dislike Jews simply since they room Jews. Thus, when the Christian characters may talk more about mercy, love, and also charity, they are not constantly consistent in just how they screen these qualities.

The divine Quality the Mercy

The conflict between Shylock and the Christian personalities comes come a head end the issue of mercy. The other personalities acknowledge the the legislation is top top Shylock’s side, yet they all mean him to display mercy, which he refuses come do. When, during the trial, Shylock asks Portia what can possibly compel that to be merciful, Portia’s lengthy reply, beginning with the words, “The top quality of mercy is no strained,” clarifies what is in ~ stake in the argument (IV.i.179). Human beings should it is in merciful due to the fact that God is merciful: mercy is one attribute that God himself and also therefore better than power, majesty, or law. Portia’s understanding of mercy is based on the way Christians in Shakespeare’s time construed the difference in between the Old and new Testaments. According to the works of St. Paul in the new Testament, the Old testimony depicts God together requiring strictly adherence come rules and also exacting harsh punishments because that those that stray. The brand-new Testament, in contrast, emphasizes adherence to the spirit rather than the letter the the law, showing a God who forgives quite than punishes and offers salvation come those followers that forgive others. Thus, when Portia advises Shylock against pursuing the regulation without regard because that mercy, she is promoting what Elizabethan believer would have seen together a pro-Christian, anti-Jewish agenda.

The strictures the Renaissance drama demanded the Shylock be a villain, and, together such, patently can not to present even a autumn of compassion for his enemy. A sixteenth-century audience would not expect Shylock to exercise mercy—therefore, the is as much as the christians to do so. Once she has turned Shylock’s best weapon—the law—against him, Portia has the opportunity to give freely of the mercy for which she so beautiful advocates. Instead, she backs Shylock right into a corner, where she strips him of his bond, his estate, and also his dignity, forcing him to kneel and beg for mercy. Offered that Antonio decides no to seize Shylock’s items as punishment because that conspiring versus him, we might think about Antonio to be merciful. Yet we may additionally question even if it is it is merciful to go back to Shylock fifty percent of his goods, just to take away his religion and also his profession. By forcing Shylock come convert, Antonio disables the from practicing usury, which, follow to Shylock’s reports, to be Antonio’s primary reason because that berating and also spitting on him in public. Antonio’s compassion, then, appears to stem as lot from self-interest together from worry for his fellow man. Mercy, as yielded in The seller of Venice, never ever manages to be together sweet, selfless, or complete of grace together Portia gift it.

Hatred as a Cyclical Phenomenon

Throughout the play, Shylock insurance claims that he is simply applying the lessons teach to the by his Christian neighbors; this claim becomes an integral component of both his character and also his dispute in court. In Shylock’s very an initial appearance, together he conspires to damage Antonio, his entire plan seems to it is in born the the insults and injuries Antonio has actually inflicted upon that in the past. As the pat continues, and also Shylock unveils an ext of his reasoning, the exact same idea rears its head over and over—he is simply using what year of abuse have taught him. Responding to Salarino’s questions of what an excellent the pound of meat will execute him, Shylock responds, “The villainy girlfriend teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard however I will far better the instruction” (III.i.60–61). Not every one of Shylock’s actions have the right to be blamed on poor teachings, and one could argue the Antonio understands his own culpability in his close to execution. With the trial’s conclusion, Antonio requirements that Shylock convert to Christianity, yet inflicts no other punishment, regardless of the dangers of fellow Christians like Gratiano. Antonio does not, together he has actually in the past, kick or spit on Shylock. Antonio, as well as the duke, effectively ends the dispute by starving the of the injustices it requirements to continue.


The theme of friendship drives many of the action in The seller of Venice. Bassanio demands money and also turns to Antonio, that has already offered him comprehensive financial assistance in the past. Antonio immediately and unquestioningly agrees to do everything he have the right to to help his friend, including offering a lb of his very own flesh come Shylock if that defaults on the loan. Antonio never rebukes Bassanio because that leading him right into the case that later on threatens his life. Instead, Antonio repeatedly says that he is happy to dice for the sake of his friend. In return, Bassanio tells him that “life itself, my wife and all the civilization / are not v me esteemed above thy life” (IV.i.275-276). Thus, the beat depicts friendship as one of the many intense and important emotional bonds humans can experience and also suggests the the bond of friendship between Antonio and also Bassanio may also run deeper 보다 romantic love. The prestige of friendship is also displayed in between Bassanio and also Gratiano and also between Portia and Nerissa. Gratiano and Nerissa show great loyalty to and also trust in your friends, and they even fall in love with each other after being lugged together by their friends. The final dual marriage means that the 4 friends will never have to be separated indigenous one another, which additional supports the importance placed on friendship.


The merchant of Venice highlights the complexities the wealth and treats this template with ambivalence. Numerous wealthy personalities are depicted as unhappy regardless of their substantial fortunes. In ~ the start of the play, Antonio is a prosperous vendor on the verge of much more financial success, but he still suffers native a sense of melancholy. As he explains, “And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, / the I have actually much ado to recognize myself” (I.i.6-7). That cannot number out why the is therefore miserable. Likewise, Portia is a well-off heiress yet complains the “my little body is aweary that this an excellent world” (I.ii.1). The uneven circulation of wealth causes problems for numerous characters. Bassanio seems to be a noble person, but he suffers native a lack of money, forcing him to selfishly borrow from Antonio, when the vengeful Shylock makes considerable profits by exploiting others. Moreover, wide range is presented together fickle and also liable come disappear at any type of moment. Because that example, Antonio is confident that he will have more than enough money come repay his loan, but he end up losing his fortune.

While money is illustrated as a source of greed and dissatisfaction, the play additionally asserts the wealth provides individuals freedom and power. Because that instance, Bassanio is only able to court Portia because he gains access to money. Then, when Bassanio and Portia find out that Antonio is unable to pay back his loan, Portia suggests a solution, stating that, “You shall have actually gold / To pay the petty debt twenty time over” (III.ii.313-314). Portia’s wealth allows her to help resolve a danger situation. At the end of the play, the redistribution the wealth attributes as both a punishment and also reward. Shylock is punished because that his viciousness through losing fifty percent of his income, which the laments by saying that “you take it my life / as soon as you do take the method whereby ns live” (IV.i.392-393). Antonio is rewarded through the how amazing news the not all of his ships were shed after all, and Jessica and Lorenzo secure an income from the money extract from Shylock.


Prejudice is a pressure that create barriers and divisions in between the world of Venice. As a Jewish man, Shylock deeply disdains Christians. When he first appears in the play, Shylock defines his feelings about Antonio, saying, “I hate him because that he is a Christian” (I.iii.34). Shylock continuously describes his animosity toward Christians, such as when he alerts Jessica to shut increase the house since he does no trust “the Christian fools with varnished faces” (II.v.32). Shylock’s solid prejudice versus Christians is one factor Jessica runs away to be with Lorenzo, i m sorry permanently destroys the relationship in between father and also daughter. For his part, Shylock sees his daughter’s choice to marry a Christian as the ultimate betrayal.

The Christian personalities show deep prejudice towards Shylock due to the fact that of his Jewish identity. Antonio provides it clear the borrowing money indigenous Shylock does not adjust his opinion that him, saying that “I am as choose to contact thee again / to spit top top thee again, to spurn thee too” (I.iii.128-129). After ~ Antonio’s failure to repay his loan, many personalities prejudicially attach Shylock’s Jewish identity to his refuse to deteriorate or present mercy, and also Antonio’s insistence that Shylock convert to Christianity suggests a desire to threaten Shylock’s identity. When anti-Semitism is the most apparent kind of prejudice in the play, many personalities are likewise prejudiced versus outsiders and also anyone that is various than them. After the dark-skinned Moroccan prince stops working to solve the casket riddle, Portia responds with relief by saying, “Let all of his complexion pick me so” (II.vii.83). She walk not want anyone who looks prefer him to effectively solve the riddle and win she hand in marriage, indicating her deep-seated prejudice versus people that look various from herself.

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Revenge is a powerful, corrupting, and destructive force in the play. Shylock desires to ache Antonio because of Shylock’s desire because that revenge against the whole Christian community, which he blames for persecuting and degrading that and additionally for stealing his daughter and also the money she took when she ran away. Shylock describes why the feels justified in search revenge: “If friend prick us, carry out we no bleed? If you tickle us, carry out we no laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? and if friend wrong us, chandelier we not revenge?” (III.i.54-56). The lines indicate that Shylock feel he has actually been wronged by Christians and is entitled to look for revenge in solution to their dehumanization. He see this revenge together a natural human solution to mistreatment. Due to the fact that of his desire because that revenge, Shylock will certainly not consider changing the problems of Antonio’s link in any kind of way. Ironically, his insistence top top the precise nature of the legislation being spreading is what leads to his downfall as soon as Portia finds a legal loophole and also then offers the same regulation to condemn him. Shylock’s desire for revenge provides him law in one emotional quite than a reasonable way, and also he end up losing whatever as a result.