Explain how the scripture James 2:12,13 supports the theme of The Merchant of Venice.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
This verse from the Bible clearly is very significant to the play in terms of Act IV scene 1 and the theme of justice and mercy. Note the warning that the verse gives in the phrase "judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful." Of course, this is precisely what happens to Shylock as he pursued judgement without mercy in his case against Antonio, and Portia warns him of the consequences of his pursuit of justice in the following quote:
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.
Portia makes the lesson of this verse very clear: by pursuing justice so vigorously as the expense of mercy, Shylock risks being judged himself accordingly with no element of mercy whatsoever. In other words, by refusing mercy and trying to attain the full measure of justice he is able to pursue himself, he is only showing how he himself will be treated later on in the court case when Portia manages to exploit a loophole to make the case go against Shylock. The one part of this biblical verse that arguably is not shown to be true in this play is the final sentence, "Mercy triumphs over judgement." Many critics have argued that there is little mercy shown to Shylock, and the play shows that Shylock has to face a punishment that is literally worse than death in the way that he is forced to convert from his beloved faith and sees his property and wealth go to a gentile.