Texts about human experiences illuminate how collective experiences shape an individual's human qualities and behaviour. To what extent does the text you have studied demonstrate the individual and human experiences and interconnect?
The Merchant of Venice written by William Shakespeare in 1605 is a comedic play that challenges how collective experiences shape an individual's human qualities and behaviour. It gives insight into the anomalies, paradoxes, and inconsistencies in human behaviour and motivations by exploring the themes of Mercy vs Justice, hatred, and worth/value, allowing the reader to see the world differently, to challenge assumptions, ignite new ideas or reflect personally. Through his skilful construction of theatrical devices and flawed characters, the audience is encouraged to consider motivations that inspire action, mercenary dealings and examine the value of forgiveness, mercy, and empathy.
Shakespeare explores the conflict between Mercy and Justice by illustrating it through the character of Shylock, an antagonistic Jewish money lender who seeks revenge from Antonio, a Christian Merchant. Throughout the play, Judaism is associated with the Mosaic code from Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, with its strict emphasis on justice and following the letter of the law. Christianity,contradictingly, is associated with the New Testament's emphasis on God's mercy and offer of salvation. The association between Mercy and Justice is seen in the play through the social divide between Christians and Jews ironically created by the Venetian Christians. Shylocks act 3 scene 1 monologue presents a stark reaction to his cruel treatment and contests the association of mercy and justice with Christians and Jews. He accumulates, Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions" and is "fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is". Shakespeare's lexical chain establishes the link of humanity between the two religions while his use of the rhetorical question, questions his need for justice. Shylocks barrage of rhetorical questions that are antithetical to each other accumulating, If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? powerfully contrasts these emotions to his when he says And if you wrong us, do we not revenge?. Shylocks visceral imagery and jagged syntax reveals the harsh nature of venetian racial prejudice and highlights the inconsistency of mercy vs justice. Shakespeare effectively explores Mercy vs Justice as an ideal through the character of Shylock and the racial prejudice of venetian society.
Shakespeare illustrates the theme of hate most prominently through the prejudices of both Christians and Jews, and their behaviour towards one another. Hatred is fueled by the mistrust between Christians and jews and...