Tag Archives: mercy

Mercy in the Courtroom: How Shakespeare Uses the Law to Influence Audiences

It is difficult to know whether it was Shakespeare’s intent to make his character Shylock in The Merchant of Venice a sympathetic character or a Jewish villain to satisfy an anti-Semitic audience. Clues to this debate can be gathered if we carefully consider Shakespeare’s treatment of Shylock in the courtroom. A conflict of mercy vs. vengeance  and between the spirit and letter of the law become apparent in the courtroom scene of Act IV. Mercy is a central theme to both Christianity and Judaism and is used by Shakespeare to make larger claims about such religions. Continue reading