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What is the moral of "The Merchant of Venice"?

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bubbi | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 10, 2008 at 4:48 PM via web

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What is the moral of "The Merchant of Venice"?

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aamir926 | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted May 15, 2008 at 1:58 AM (Answer #2)

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The moral of the play Merchant of venice does not confine to a single moral message but it gives us numerous messages on the following:

Friendship: the beautiful message that william shakespeare has portrayed through the friendship of Antonio and Bassanio proves that a true friend remains by your side when he himself is in credit he does his best to help his friend.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted September 29, 2008 at 7:35 AM (Answer #2)

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A big 'moral lesson' in MoV is Mercy. In modern language we might say 'tolerance' instead of 'Mercy'.

Shylock the Jew has been repeatedly abused by his Christian neighbours. They taunt him without mercy. Then he suddenly holds the power of life and death over Antonio and longs for revenge against this unpleasant racist bully.

Can he rise above this desire? Should he?

SHYLOCK: Gaoler, look to him. tell not me of mercy;—
Gaoler, look to him...I have sworn an oath that I will have my bond; Thou call'dst me dog, before thou hadst a cause;
But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs:

Then, later, in court Portia says...

PORTIA: The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:(190)
'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.
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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 19, 2010 at 5:35 AM (Answer #3)

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I am not too sure about whether the moral lesson is mercy or not. Portia only manages to resolve the case not by mercy but by following the law to the precise letter, and Shylock is not actually shown much mercy. I think in many ways, having lost his daughter and his wealth, he would have preferred death to losing his religion as well. Portia speaks very prettily about mercy, and yet the rest of the play seems to question the limits of mercy.

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Gaurav123 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:53 AM (Answer #3)

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The moral is about friendship should not be broken

Never lay a trap for others or you may fall there like shylock

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted May 11, 2008 at 1:14 AM (Answer #1)

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It seems to me that the moral of the story can be summed up with Portia's famous speech to the court and to Shylock:

The quality of mercy is not strained.
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 scepter 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 sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.   (4.1)

This is what Portia was trying to get across to Shylock as he waited for his pound of flesh from Antonio.  I believe, though, that it was a lesson that all SHOULD have learned, although I realize that not all did learn it (Gratiano comes to mind as someone who really needed to learn about mercy).

 

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