What Is The Theme Of Justice In The Merchant Of Venice

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The theme of justice in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” is both controversial and complicated as far as whether justice is attributed or not. Justice of law and justice of morality are illustrated in the play, but in a closer examination hypocrisy and lawlessness are present as well. I will attempt to analyze the theme of justice taking into consideration issues of religion, racism and anti-Semitism in the Early Modern era. To be more specific, Shylock is a Jewish merchant whose legal rights have been violated, as Antonio is incapable of paying his debt to him. Seeking justice, Shylock goes to court demanding his “pound of flesh” from Antonio, in order for his bond to be satisfied. Obviously, Shylock seeks vengeance against Antonio…show more content…
Thus, moral justice would be served despite the fact that justice of law would not be administered because Shylock does not take his money back. Yet, in the course of the play, Shylock is accused of trying to take a Christian’s life. Hence, he is sentenced to death, but the Duke spares Shylock’s life on the condition that he will give half of his fortune to Antonio and half to the court. Thereupon, Antonio shows mercy on Shylock and says that he will forego his half of Shylock’s wealth, if he agrees to posthumously leave all of his fortune to Lorenzo and his daughter Jessica, and if he converts to Christianity. Obviously, Shylock’s punishment is more severe than death itself, in the sense that he is forced to betray his religious beliefs. After all, the death of the soul is more painful than the death of the body. It is clear that Christians do not show mercy they preach; on the contrary, they humiliate and punish Shylock by forcing him to become a Christian. Undoubtedly, denying one’s religious beliefs and betraying one’s God and faith could be considered as the strictest punishment of all, as the ultimate punishment for an orthodox
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