Merchant of Venice Overall Story

302 Words2 Pages
In the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, several themes and symbols are displayed. The play itself is quite complex and well thought out. The themes surrounding prejudice, mercy, and the symbols surrounding the number 3.

The concept of prejudice is shown thoroughly throughout the play. The mistreatment towards Jew's especially. Christian's like Antonio repeatedly refer to Shylock, the Jew, as a devil, or a dog. When it comes to Portia's suitors, she is very intolerant, and shows prejudice against many cultures. Black people, Europeans, etc. The main prejudice is against Jew's though. They are not considered equals, which is clear within the court scene, as Shylock is referred to be "alien." This theme is unclear to show whether or not Shakespeare was prejudice himself, or was trying to show how barbaric is was, through the "I am a Jew" speech.

Mercy is shown several times within the play. Portia shows mercy to Bassanio (and so does Nerrisa to Gratiano) when they gladly return their rings to their husbands. Shylock, shows no mercy to Antonio. Antonio on the other hand, shows mercy to Shylock. This is almost prejudice itself, as the Christian's all show mercy, but Shylock does not.

Lastly is the symbol of three. There are three caskets. A chance out of three to win Portia's heart. The bond surrounds three thousand ducats, within three months. Then, Antonio loses three ships. Then there are the three rings. One with Jessica, the other two with Bassanio and Gratiano. Why Shakespeare chose the concept of there being three of everything is ambiguous, but it adds to the complexity of the play.

Overall, Shakespeare had a brilliant mind. To write a play full of questions for a reader to ask, surrounding prejudice or the quality of mercy, requires a great deal of

More about Merchant of Venice Overall Story

Open Document