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Posted on May 31st, 2012, by

William Shakespeare, one of the most prominent authors in the world, went down in the history of literature as a classic, whose plays touch upon eternally important subjects. Shakespearian comedies are especially famous. One of them, “The Merchant of Venice”¯, is considered in this essay.

If we designate the main theme of the play, the points of view might be quite different, as the comedy deals with several significant topics. On the one hand, Shakespeare draws readers’ attention to such notions as hatred and mercy and their ability to return a hundredfold to people. Watching the relations between Shylock and Christian characters, we see that evil always comes back to those who have done it.

On the other hand we can state that the main idea of the play is mercifulness that is preached by the heroes, particularly, by Portia, but is rarely present in their behavior.

“The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath”¦”¯ (Shakespeare, 2004, 179-181)

Portia proclaims a long monologue devoted to the importance of being merciful, but when she, personally, has the opportunity to prove it and to show mercy to Shylock, she humiliates him and compels him to kneel.

Still another topic can be considered as the main theme of “The Merchant of Venice”¯. It is the opposition of egoism and love. Here it is again the confrontation of Christian characters and Shylock.

At first sight, Shylock is interested only in money. He is greedy and self-interested, everything he does is based on his mercenariness, while Antonio, for instance, often sacrifices his fortune for the sake of those whom he loves.

“The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stategems, and spoils.”¯ (Shakespeare, 2004, 82-84)

This problem develops throughout the play and with time we make sure that Shylock’s character is ambiguous and sometimes we observe some human motifs in his behavior but greed.

On the other hand, we learn that Bassanio and Portia’s relations are not based purely on love, money has a lot to do with it. Thus, we make sure that everything is not as simple as it may seem.

From my point of view, Shakespeare aimed to show that people’s characters are very controversial and it is impossible to pin down their personalities at first sight. Moreover, the issue of love and money has always been topical and is depicted in literature of all times.

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