Saturday, October 12, 2019

Essay on Justice vs. Morality in Measure for Measure and Merchant of Ve

Justice vs. Morality in Measure for Measure and Merchant of Venice    There are many similarities shared between Shakespeare's plays, "Measure for Measure", and "The Merchant of Venice".   The underlying theme of each work is well defined by the phrase "Justice without the temperance of mercy, is power misused".   I will support this claim by drawing upon some of the characters and situations that are consistent in each story. In each story a man's life depends on the interpretation, and sanctioning of justice.   In the, "Merchant of Venice", Antonio (who I believe represents mercy), had sealed a bond with Shylock offering a pound of his flesh for the loan of three thousand ducats.   Unfortunately he forfeits this bond, (Merchant III,ii) "Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all miscarried.... my bond to the Jew is forfeit....".   Shylock (who to the strict letter of the law represents justice), is unyielding to any type of compassion and desires nothing other than what he feels is justice, (Merchant III,iii) "I'll have my bond... beware my fangs. The Duke shall grant me justice...".   In, "Measure for Measure", it is Cladio (representing mercy), whose life hangs in the balance of law and morality.   Cladio has slept with Julietta out of wedlock, (Measure I,ii) "I got possession of Julietta's bed... she is fast my wife... Save that we do the denunciation lack...".   For this crime Angelo (who in place of the duke, representing justice), much as Shylock, desires that Cladio's sentence be carried out exactly as stated by the law, (Measure II,i) "  Ã‚   'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus Another thing to fall... Sir, he must die". In both cases the guilty parties have committed a crime punishable by death, additionally each man also r... ... of the law, and by not yielding to human decency and compassion, Shylock would have been   given his just deserts.   The same was true for Angelo who desired Cladio's head as the unaltered law required.   It certainly seems to me, that Mr.. Shakespeare was simply stating that in within the realms of these plays' one could easily say that "Justice without the temperance of mercy, is power misused". Works Cited Black, James. "The Unfolding of Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Survey 26 (1973): 119-28. Leech, Clifford. "The 'Meaning' of Measure for Measure." Shakespeare Survey 3 (1950): 69-71. Shakespeare, William. Measure for Measure. The Arden Shakespeare. Ed. J.W. Lever. London: Routledge, 1995. Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. The Riverside Shakespeare. Eds. G. Blakemore Evans and J. J. M. Tobin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

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