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I would answer this question by referring to the two settings in which the action of the play occurs. The first is Venice, which is full of racism, distrust and vengefulness with a really quite unpleasant tone for the most part. The other setting is Portia's home Belmont, which is like a fairytale world by contrast. It is light and airy - and very wealthy of course - with pleasant teasing conversation and a sense of a strong woman just waiting for a challenge in the 'real' world to match her talents. The play ends in Belmont, with the venal world of Venice left far behind, but this is not say it is a happy ending story: it is on the surface but the Christians leave many questions about themselves unanswered as they cheerfully forget the terrible things they have done to Shylock and engage in a frivolous game of disguise and recognition and sexual innuendo to conclude what I consider to be one of Shakespeare's most troubling plays.
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