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In "The Merchant of Venice," why does Shylock not want to temper justice with...

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gleness | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 16, 2008 at 7:24 PM via web

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In "The Merchant of Venice," why does Shylock not want to temper justice with mercy?

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purplepenguin | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 18, 2008 at 9:42 AM (Answer #1)

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Shylock "craves the law." He desires nothing but "the penalty and forfeit of (the) bond." Not even when Bassanio offers him "thrice the sum" of the original debt or even when the ante is raised to "ten times o'er" does Shylock change his mind. Shylock demands the penalty that is set by law and is not moved.

Shylock has been downtrodden because he is a Jew. In society during the Elizabethian era, Jews were the moneylenders and were good at it. But they did not rate very high in the societal order of things. In fact, they were looked upon as second class citizens. Shylock realizes an opportunity to make a nobleman suffer as he feels he has and he refuses to bend and be merciful when society has not been merciful to him.

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