What are moral questions in The Merchant of Venice?
One of the most pressing moral questions in the play concerns religious double standards. Shylock, as a Jew, is subjected to contempt, hatred, and oppression on a daily basis. As well as his Jewishness, people hate him for being a moneylender. This is a prime example of hypocrisy by the Christians of Venice, as moneylending was one of the few occupations open to Jews at that time.
Moneylending, or usury, was considered incompatible with Christian values, and so it was forbidden for Christians to lend money at interest. Nevertheless, Christian merchants and businessmen still beat a path to Shylock's door whenever they're short of money. Yet even once he's given them a loan, they'll still curse him to his face.
Shylock's bond may be cruel and inhuman, but as he points out himself, he's only asking for equality, albeit a kind of equality that we could well do without. Christians are allowed to avenge themselves on Jews, so why not the other way round? That Shylock is denied equality with Christians, and indeed is forced to convert to Christianity, is just one more example of the religious double standards to which he and his fellow Jews are subjected.