What would be similarities in the themes of To Kill A Mockingbird and Merchant Of Venice?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Good question.  I'll attempt to name a couple of thematic similarities between the two pieces.  

Race and racial issues -- Race is at the forefront of "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Tom Robinson is on trial for rape, and through the trial, Atticus is able to show that Tom is innocent.  He is still convicted, though, as a scapegoat.  That was only possible back then because Tom was black. Similarly there are race issues within "The Merchant of Venice."  It's not a black/white issue though.  It's a Jew/non-Jew issue.  Perhaps you could claim that's not racial, but religious, but Judaism is a blurry line between race and religion.  Shylock is portrayed as the play's "bad guy" and happens to be Jewish. 

The theme of justice is another solid connection between the two. A court trial is at the forefront of both plots. One is for rape; the other is for financial reasons. But in both cases, the authors emphasize the importance that proper justice be done. What's odd to note though is that Lee has Atticus do everything 100% correctly (even shows Tom's innocence) and still loses. Shakespeare, on the other hand, has Portia being quite devious in court and legally getting the win. She doesn't technically win or lose, though. Shylock more or less gives up and leaves. While justice is central to the plots, both pieces leave the reader feeling like justice was not attained. 

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