Well then, it now appears you need my help…." (Act I, Scene III, ll. 16-17)“Go with me to a notary, seal me there/Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,/If you repay me not on such a day,/In such a place, such sum or sums as are/Express’d in the condition, let the forfeit/Be nominated for an equal pound/Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken/In what part of your body pleaseth me." (Act I, Scene III, ll. 17-18)“All that glisters is not gold;/Often have you heard that told:/Many a man his life hath sold/But my outside to behold:/Gilded tombs do worms infold./Had you been as wise as bold,/Young in limbs, in judgment old,/Your answer had not been inscroll’d./Fare you well, your suit is cold." (Act II, Scene VIII, ll. Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?
William Shakespeare’s satirical comedy, The Merchant of Venice, believed to have been written in 1596 was an examination of hatred and greed.
At the hearing before the court, Shylock says “it is my humour" in response to the question why he wants a pound of flesh, yet his persistence and insistence are so intense that it is clear that the debt owed to him is more symbolic than money.
In building your argument about what that debt is, and what its payment represents, look to Shylock’s experiences and words for clues as to his underlying motives.
The religious issues are not limited to the conflict between the Jewish Shylock and the other Christian characters, however. /If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance/ be by Christian example? The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." (Act III, Scene I, ll. 45)“I never did repent for doing good,/Nor shall not now: for in companions/That do converse and waste the time together,/Whose souls do bear an equal yoke of love,/There must be needs a like proportion/Of lineaments, of manners, and of spirit…. the sins of the father are/ to be laid upon the children; therefore, I promise/you, I fear you." (Act III, Scene V, ll. 61)“You’ll ask me, why I rather choose to have/A weight of carrion flesh than to receive/Three thousand ducats.
Religion also plays a central role in the sub-plot of the wooing of Portia. /If we are like you in the rest,/we will resemble you in that. If it be so,/How little is the cost I have bestow’d/In purchasing the semblance of my soul…." (Act III, Scene IV, ll. I’ll not answer that,/But say it is my humour…." (Act IV, Scene I, ll.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Meaning of the Pound of Flesh in “The Merchant of Venice”The money-lender Shylock in Shakespeare's “The Merchant of Venice” demands a pound of flesh from the merchant Antonio, who vouches for Bassanio, his dear friend and the man who has borrowed money from Shylock.
Shylock (click for an in-depth character analysis of Shylock) is portrayed as a greedy character in “The Merchant of Venice,” but the pound of flesh must represent something more symbolic, as it obviously does not have the equivalent value of money.
Develop an argumentative essay on “The Merchant of Venice” in which you defend this decision or contest it.
Be certain to note the differences between justice and fairness as legal and moral concepts.