Merchant of Venice
A Comedy of Horrors: Mercy Gone Mercenary in The Merchant of Venice
There is a method to the madness that is Shakespearean Comedy. Every Comedy has an outline and "The Merchant of Venice" is no exception. This highly social dilemma centers on the pursuit of love and money and concludes with the joyous acquisition of just that. But while beautiful people pursue beautiful things, something dark is going on beneath and made light of through Shakespearean wit. The sources of human identity are probed as a Venetian moneylender transforms into the monster he is pressured to become and a beautiful heiress mutates mercy and justice into wicked trickery. Portia's plea for mercy in the fourth act is the most poetic and moving speech in all of this play and it is in comparison to this oration that the disturbing undertones of "The Merchant of Venice" become the most apparent.
A close reading of Portia's Mercy Speech (IV,i,190-212) discloses a tone and rhetoric entirely unlike anything else in this play.
"The quality of mercy is not strained./It dropeth as the gentle rain from heaven/Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:/It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
Portia is speaking with tones of fanciful romance that has in past been reserved only for wooing....
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 725 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4211 literature essays, 1403 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in