The Merchant of Venice: Key Themes – The Pound of Flesh

Act 1 Scene 3 – pg 33: “How like a fawning republican he looks! I hate him for he is a Christian.” This shows Shylock disliked his republican attitude as “fawning” shows Antonio lends money without any interest which Effects his trade and business while constantly being scorned for his religion. “Hate him for he is a Christian.” Shows the deep routed hatred Shylock has for Antonio and Christians on a whole therefore one of the first instances where Shylock has shown hatred towards christians showing he could take the pound of flesh.
Act 1 Scene 3 – pg 33: “I will feed the ancient grudge I bear him. He hates our sacred nation…cursed be my tribe if I forgive him.” This shows in terms of context the ancient segregation between the two religious groups. The term ‘tribe’ represents Jews as a collective group who has suffered as a community. The links with taking of the pubs of flesh because Shylock seeks revenge for not just him but for the discrimination and oppression of his whole religious community.
Act 1 Scene 3 – pg 37: “Fair sir, you spat on me Wednesday last – you spurned me such a day – another time you called me dog and for these courtesies I’ll lend you this much moneys?” This shows how Shylock is reflecting how he has been treated by christians, and why Shylock should lend Antonio money because of this. In relation to this it shows the intensity of hatred between them what leads to the Pune of flesh.
Act 1 Scene 3 – pg 41: “Hie thee, gentle Jew – The Hebrew will turn Christian. He grows kind.” This relates to the Christian alienation of the Jewish race and how they see them as inferior and slightly adding to animalistic view of Shylock and Jews as they are incapable of emotions such as ‘kindness’ In relationship to the pound this just enrages shylock even more of how he is being mistreated/ presented.
Act 2 Scene 3 – pg 61: “What heinous sin is in me To be ashamed to be my father’s child!” This shows Jessica dislikes her farther due to his attitudes towards Christians. ‘ sin’ in this context would represent religion therefore she is still conscious in that aspect. This shows Jessica has changed her view I’ve Shylock and wants to escape which will infuriate him and make him want to take the pound of flesh.
Act 2 Scene 3 – pg 61: “I am a daughter to his blood I am not to his manners This shows Jessica sonar feel like she represents Shylock in an emotional and religious sense and his very Christian views of Jews having no emotions and an excess interest in money. This extract shows how Shylock has forced Jessica out of their home and how she doesn’t want to be associated with Shylock manors, religion and demeanours which triggers Shylock to consider taking Antonio’s pound of flesh as from Shylock’s perspective the Christians ‘stole’ his daughter.
Act 3 Scene 1 – pg 97: “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food hurt with the same weapons…And if you wrong us, shall we not seek revenge?” This draws comparisons from Jews to Christians from Shylock to enforce the fact that Christians and Jews are both human and subsequently endure and feel similar things such as ‘hurt with the same weapons’ it is as this point where shylock justifies taking the pound of flesh because both Jewish people and Christians seek revenge and retribution when people have done wrong by them.
Act 3 Scene 1 – pg 97: “The villainy you teach me I will execute – and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.” This shows Shylock is going to seek revenge and retribution due to the Christians harshness towards him for taking his daughter. The word ‘villainy’ in the context of racism and prejudice he has endured under them and how Christians ‘stole his daughter from him triggering him to consider taking Antonio’s flesh. However unlike christians he will ‘better the instruction showing he is determined he will carry out this task regardless of any controversy and contradiction from any other people.
Act 4 Scene 1 – pg 155: “Is it so nominated in the bond.” Through the ‘pound of flesh’ plot, Shakespeare shows the difference between Jews and Christians. Shylock won’t relent or let Antonio off – he shows no mercy. He keeps referring to his ‘bond.’ This contrasts with Portia and Nerrisa who forgive Bassanio and Gratiano when they give their rings away. Christians know when to stop and show mercy.