One of the most predominant issues portrayed inside the Merchant of Venice would be race. In the play, it is evident through the behaviours of the other heroes, that the Jewish people in Venetian population were largely looked down after and thought to be inferior. We are definitely in a position to see this type of unjust treatment into the Jewish people through the type of Shylock, who was stereotypically depicted as a spiteful moneylender. In their society, Christianity and Judaism were not just religions, but racial identities that defined a person's position. Shylock is labelled with dehumanising insults by Antonio and is known as a "misbeliever", a "cut-throat dog" and a "cur". Antonio curses Shylock's religion and ethnicity by mocking him and regularly mentioning what he sees as idiosyncrasies of Judaism. This can be seen through Shylock's professional practice of charging interest, creating Antonio to be resentful towards all the Jewish moneylenders. He also bodily demonstrates his disdain by kicking and spitting on Shylock. Shylock expresses his annoyance in the discrimination of Jews in his "Hath not a Jew sight" talk, which is perhaps the most well-known passage in the written text. In his talk, he asks "if you prick us do we not bleed?" insisting that Jews and Christians talk about a common humanity. Shylock also exposes the hypocrisy of the Religious personas who are always discussing love and mercy - Yet their words do not reflect on their activities as they alienate Shylock basically because he is Jewish.
Through the character of Shylock, revenge is another issue that Shakespeare places emphasis upon. As being a Jew, Shylock has had to see much suffering due to Christians, as shown in the circumstances with Antonio. Jessica, his precious daughter, has also fled his home to elope with a Religious and considered his money and belongings. These negative encounters in his life heighten his desire to get revenge on Antonio for all that he has suffered as a Jew. In Act 3, Shylock seems to concentrate all his stored anger and problems on Antonio, repeating over and over the term "Let him look to his connection" to say how determined he is to consider his "pound of flesh". When Salarino asks what good is Antonio's flesh to Shylock, Shylock declares that "If it'll feed little or nothing else, it will feed my revenge", meaning that the anguish of Antonio will fulfil his desire to get even and make up for the emotional torment he has endured. Shylock then talks of a Christian's "humility" with sarcasm. The "humility" of the Christian, Shylock says, ceases whenever a Christian is harmed, as the Christian takes revenge. Revenge is the Christian's course of action and will also be Shylock's way to his sufferings, as proclaimed in the quote: "The villainy you instruct me I'll execute".
The Merchant of Venice also focuses on the problems of mercy and justice, which are portrayed through the type of Portia, whose views on mercy are especially strong. The notions of mercy and justice were certainly conveyed in her famous conversation on the "quality of mercy" and in her activities towards Shylock. Going into the trial, Portia knows that she has the upper hand, but rather than immediately discovering the detrimental flaw in Shylock's contract, she gives him an possibility to show mercy. Portia says that mercy and justice should go hand in hand as "mercy months justice". She acknowledges that Shylock is justified to his "pound of flesh, " but she pleads with him to forego justice and show mercy, as "throughout justice, none folks should see salvation", emphasising that mercy, not justice, helps you to save us. She asserts that mercy is something that'll be worthwhile by the providing and the taking, as "it is double blest". Exactly like how we all "pray for mercy", "that same prayer doth train us all to render the deeds of mercy" - and therefore since we could saved by God being merciful towards us, we ought to also be merciful to others. When Shylock dismisses her appeal and needs for justice as he "craves regulations", she warns Shylock about the irony for insisting on justice without mercy - that eventually someone will do the same when coping with him.
The role of women in a patriarchal world was another main subject of the play that was represented through Portia. In this point in time, women were not regarded as highly as men. Furthermore, a woman's identification was designed by the man they married. Instead of having the ability to determine her own decisions, Portia had to be subjected to the luck of the suitor deciding on the best casket. We could shown that Portia is handled by her dad as she declares to Nerissa that, "I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curb'd by the will of any dead father". Her words plainly evoke her obedience and show having less authority she's over her own life. However, Portia is self-assured and considers nothing of coming into the male world of justice and business. She has to disguise herself as a guy to take part in the trial, but instead than finding that as an insult, Portia finds humour in it because she is aware that she can outwit the men at their own game. Portia transcends her expected role in society as a demure and submissive woman as she exhibits her prowess in the courtroom, creating a memorable moment with her "quality of mercy" speech. Portia using ethics and brains to manipulate regulations to her gain was something that men of that time wouldn't normally believe a female to manage to. The fact that Portia, a female, can sway the courts is significant when talking about the role of women in a male-dominated contemporary society.
Although many of the key issues were developed through Shylock and Portia, I also believe Bassanio and Antonio should be credited to expressing the key issues of a friendly relationship and loyalty. From play, we can see that both characters value the other person quite definitely as close friends. Antonio shows that he is eager to do anything for his good friend and even makes a offer with Shylock in order to provide money to Bassanio, so that Bassanio could follow Portia. Furthermore, when Antonio is at a potential for dying, Bassanio remains devoted to their camaraderie and seems to choose it over love. He declares that life itself, his wife Portia and the complete world "aren't beside me esteem'd above thy life", and therefore he'd do anything for Antonio and that he was well worth more to him than other things.
Through the development of the character types Shylock and Portia in Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice, many substantive issues were attended to. Issues such as racism, revenge, mercy, justice and the role of ladies in a male-dominated society, were all very widespread in Venetian contemporary society through the times of Shakespeare, and were all represented very well through both of these characters and different others. Shylock and Portia increase numerous important topics, not only significant to Venetian society, but also highly relevant to our contemporary society today.