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Word Count: 902
The idea of mercy is important in The Merchant of Venice because it provides a focus for the contrast between Venetian Christian society and the alien invader represented by Shylock Mercy occupies a central position in the trial scene IVi where the power struggle between aristocratic Venetian society and the threatening force Shylock comes to a climax My thesis is that the contrast between and equation of mercy and revenge in the trial scene reveals the true nature of Venetian society as insecure hypocritical and vengeful Mercy is clearly of greatest importance to the Christians in this text It is only mentioned in the trial scene by two characters--the Duke 3 times and Portia in her guise as the lawyer Balthazar 10 times Mercy is significantly never mentioned by Shylock implying either that he does not believe in it or that he sees a hidden motive behind the Christians insistence that he should be merciful to Antonio By looking at what mercy means to the Christians and how they use it in the trial scene I will try to show how it acts as a mirror for their true value system Mercy can be defined as kind and considerate treatment that you show to someone especially when you forgive them or do not punish them It is a Christian value associated with the New Testament thus contrasting with Shylocks Old Testament religion and its image of a more stern and vengeful God In the first half of the trial mercy and revenge are contrasted The Duke appeals to Shylock to be merciful as if he shared their Christian values-- Shylock the world thinks and I think so too That thou but leadest this fashion of thy malice To the last hour of act and then tis thought Thoull show thy mercy The implication is that demanding Antonios death for forfeiting a bond is strange apparent cruelty IVi21 unnatural
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