Justice in "The Merchant of Venice": a Study of Law and Mercy Book Review by Colby

A look at the argument that Antonio's trial in William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" reveals the shortcomings of mercy and law in separation and their potential in union.
# 150800 | 944 words | 0 sources | 2012 | US
Published on Apr 23, 2012 in English (Analysis) , Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice)


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Description:

This paper discusses how at the heart of the play"The Merchant of Venice", beats the tension between mercy and law; the tension between equity, forgiveness, human benevolence, and rigid words, scripture, and cold order. In particular, it looks at how Antonio's trial serves as a lens by which to view justice as it is rendered by the imperfect marriage of these two modes and how it reveals the shortcomings of mercy and law in separation and their potential in union.

From the Paper:

"Although Portia's motives to do so are decidedly less evil, her manipulation of the law is no less revealing of its inadequacy. Just as Shylock turns the law into a weapon by which to cut Antonio, so Portia proves that it can be a double-edged sword. Just as Shylock points out that the contract does not stipulate the presence of a doctor during the procedure so Portia finally reveals that Shylock may shed no blood in taking his flesh. This impossible stipulation moves the law to its most absurd and proves that words are never omniscient. It is impossible that law, with the flexibility of language and fault of man, could ever account for all contingencies. More than anything, Shakespeare illustrates the irony of written law; the human intercession it seeks to avoid is what allows it to function. Law cannot force virtue and, alone, does not mean justice. It, like mercy, is a human contrivance and must operate on human terms."

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Justice in "The Merchant of Venice": a Study of Law and Mercy (2012, April 23) Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/justice-in-the-merchant-of-venice-a-study-of-law-and-mercy-150800/

MLA Format

"Justice in "The Merchant of Venice": a Study of Law and Mercy" 23 April 2012. Web. 25 November. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/justice-in-the-merchant-of-venice-a-study-of-law-and-mercy-150800/>

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