Lon's Reviews > The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
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May 03, 2010

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Read from August 04 to 10, 2010

I re-read this play in advance of the Shakespeare Festival staging of it down in Cedar City. I looked forward to seeing the following passage from Portia enacted on stage:


"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:

consider this—
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer, doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy."

But hadn't realized how hollow, really, her petition rings when considering how pitiless the characters--Portia included--acted towards Shylock. Seems like her speech was more of a court-room tactic than a deeply-held profession of belief.

As entertainment, the play isn't in the top tier of the Bard's offerings--IMHO. As a vessel for transcendent truths or gut-wrenching pathos, it doesn't hit me where I live either. Brilliant language. Tight Plot. So-so on the gut-o-meter.
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