Antonio agrees, but he, in turn, must borrow from the Jewish moneylender Shylock. As recourse for past ills, Shylock stipulates that the forfeit on the loan must be a pound of Antonio's flesh. In the most renowned onstage law scene of all time, Portia proves herself one of Shakespeare's most cunning heroines, disguising herself as a lawyer and vanquishing Shylock's claims; meanwhile, Shylock triumphs on a humanitarian level with his plea for tolerance: 'Hath not a Jew eyes?'
Viewed paradoxically as anti-Semitic, while at the same time powerfully liberal for its time, The Merchant of Venice is at its core a bittersweet drama, exploring the noble themes of prejudice, justice and honour.
|12 Sep 2013