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The merchant of Venice law exam questions

Introduction: the importance for setting the play in Venice - a place of strict law and mercantile trade. Themes all linked in bond plot and ring plot. Next point about law and revenge. 

Point 1: Using the law system to exact revenge not justice - Shylock's aim. Using the law to gain own desires. Touch on Shylock's motives for revenge. Comment on language of the law. Next point law and justice. 

Point 2: Law of court doesn't always lead to justice - question of semantics. Again comment on twisting of language. Shylock's words are twisted and so what do we learn about justice? Next point about mercy. 

Point 3: Mercy as a Christian concept - contrast to Shylock's Judaism. Old Testament versus New Testament but avoid simplistic dichotomy. Judaism relies on God's mercy too. Look at mercy in play as a whole and how language is used to describe it. Next point justice and mercy. 

Point 4: The relationship between justice and mercy and its effect on Shylock. Is he treated fairly despite his goal to get revenge? He is stripped of everything and receives little mercy. Next point law, justice and mercy in ring plot. 

Point 5: Law of marriage - ring plot showing Portia being merciful or getting justice for Bassanio's lack of steadfastness. Look at language of their domestic tiff. Next point is the conclusion. 

Conclusion: Law, justice and mercy all interrelated and crucial for climax of the play. Finish with a strong quotation linked to themes.

Published on: 10 Dec 2010