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In The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1, line 182 what type of language is ued in...

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jaymie23 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted June 25, 2011 at 8:46 PM via web

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In The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1, line 182 what type of language is ued in Portia's mercy speech?

In The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1, line 182 Portias mercy speech what type of language is used? e.g. pun, metaphor, simile, foreboading, imagery, and so on.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there


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shaketeach | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted June 26, 2011 at 1:48 AM (Answer #1)

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Portia begins her speech comparing mercy to a gentle rain.  This is a metaphor.  She extends the metaphor by explaining it (rain/mercy) is twice blessed because it affects both the one who gives mercy and the one that receives it.  She then goes on to explain that it takes a big person to give mercy.  "Tis mightiest in the mightiness".  She continues by explaining how mercy is an "attribute of God himself".

It must be remembered that Portia is trying to "save" his soul.  She is being straight forward and honest in this plea for mercy. By this time, Shylock has already refused an enormous amount of money to settle the over due debt and he refuses.  It must be understood that it has gone beyond the money itself into something quite different.

Shylock believes that by extracting the forfeit (Antonio's pound of flesh), that he is getting revenge, not just for what he has suffered at the hands of the Christian community in Venice but revenge for all the Jewish suffering at their hands.  He made a pledge to God.

Basically, this is a fight for his soul and the Christian community "wins".  Shylock is forced to convert at the end of the scene.

Question, ... just how good a Christian will Shylock be?

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