Merchant of Venice Essay: Triumph of Good over Evil

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The trial scene in the Merchant of Venice is the climax of the play as Shylock has taken Antonio to court, as he has not paid back the money he borrowed. Shylock wants the pound of flesh that is the forfeit of the bond concerning the money Antonio borrowed from him. Shylock’s main motivation for wanting this forfeit is as his daughter has stolen his money and run away, he is taking out his spite on Antonio and this blinds him as he does not watch what he is getting into during this scene From the point where Shylock enters the courtroom everyone opposing him is appealing for mercy for Antonio and this is what the scene demonstrates, a need for mercy. Portia says shortly after she has entered the scene ‘Then the Jew must be merciful’ she is not saying that this is what the law says he must be, but that he should do this because it is the only thing he can do morally. The mercy theme runs all the way through the scene and many opportunities were offered by the Duke, Bassanio and Portia for Shylock to take the moral course of action, but he constantly refuses saying he should get what he deserves not by moral justice but by the law. Shylock does have the right to the forfeit of his bond and it is Antonio’s fault that he is in this situation because he signed the bond of his own free will. He knew the consequences if he couldn’t pay it back as Shylock made it clear from the start. This is shown by when at the start of the court scene when he says ‘Make no more offers use no farther means, but with all brief and plain conveniency let me have judgement, and the Jew his will’. When he didn’t pay Shylock the money he owed him, Shylock had a right to Antonio’s forfeit by law. The problem was he didn’t choose the moral path where he probably could have gotten a lot of money and become a very rich man, but chose the forfeit out of spite over his daughter. This theme is also repeated through the scene that Shylock deserves his justice by the letter of the law and the forfeit of his bond. This is shown when he says phrases like ‘My deeds upon my head I crave the law, the penalty and forfeit of my bond’.

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