Analysis and Answers of 'The Merchant of Venice'

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Assessment 1: The Merchant of Venice – Act 4, Scene 1 Question One The address “your grace” conveys respect and formally acknowledges the legal authority and social standing of the Duke[1]. Used in concordance with words such as 'mercy' and 'my lord', and within the context of a hearing, the role of the Duke is simultaneously rendered holy and godly-like. This is first demonstrated when Antonio appreciates the lengths “your grace has ta'en/to qualify his rigorous course” (4.1.2-6). The Duke is illustrated as saviour to Antonio and his Christian counterparts from Shylock, who is continuously likened to the devil due to his “strange apparent cruelty” (4.1.20). The Duke's compassion is further shown when he states, “With all my heart/ Go give him courteous conduct” (4.1.147), and his assertion that eventually, Shylock will “show thy mercy” (4.1.19). The Duke's confidence in Shylock’s repentance demonstrates compassion and forgiveness, which are typically Godly attributes. This further creates a distinction between the merciful Christian Duke and the wicked, remorseless Jew. When Shylock does not yield however, the Duke becomes agitated, reinforcing his authority by stating that “upon my power I may dismiss the court” (4.1.103). The shift in tone from gracious to aggravated—and the subsequent address, “my Lord” (4.1.107), further likens him to a deity, through his balance of mercy and intolerance when suddenly challenged. The Duke’s righteousness is additionally shown when Shylock is forced to “beg mercy of the Duke” (4.1.359) In her monologue, Portia pleads for mercy, proclaiming it “an attribute of God himself” (4.1.189-191). This echoes the Duke's plea for grace when asking Shylock to “forgive a moiety of the principle” (4.1.25). Unlike his Christian counterparts, Shylock views mercy as compulsion, reasserting that “I stand here for law” (4.1.141). Thus,

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