As I peruse my literature world, it is impossible not to point out the book I love, enjoy reading, and keep on reading without getting bored. It gave me so many life lessons, improved my literature skills and is the groundwork of my current reading and writing attitudes. This is the book by famous William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice.
Hypocrisy is significantly expressed in the book when Shylock, one of the title characters, claims to help the poor by lending them money; yet in return they pay with high interest rates. rendering them even poorer. Portia, another character, disguises herself as a man in order to get a way through to the court as a lawyer. She is supposed to judge with fairness but ends up ruling in favor of Antonio, a friend to her suitor Bassanio. She uses the loopholes in the agreement between Shylock and Antonio to save her friend. The pound of Antonio’s flesh Shylock demands for delay in returning the debt is a call against humanity. Shylock claims his part of the agreement not because the pound of flesh would help him financially, but for the hatred he has for Antonio. Antonio lends money without interest. It reduces Shylock’s pool of customers, and it is also like a spat on the latter’s face. As a result, his friends turn against him. Shylock can not hide his anger when his daughter elopes with Antonio’s friend, Lorenzo, and takes his money and jewellery with her. She goes further and converts to Christianity. This is abomination both regarding her father’s religion and also his lifetime savings. This feature helps to build the story line and make the story interesting by allowing the reader to read between the lines in order to decipher Shakespeare’s point. Controversy is also highlighted, and only a sharp mind is able to clearly identify the styles the author uses. This has boosted my reading, analysis, and writing skills.
Obedience is brought to light in this book when Portia, a rich, intelligent, and beautiful heiress, is bound by the lottery set up by her father in his will. According to the rules of the lottery, the potential suitors are to choose among the three caskets the one with Portia’s portrait inside, and the suitor that makes the right choice, will have her hand in marriage. There are conditions for those who make the wrong choice. They are to detest from asking any other lady for a hand in marriage. This teaches me to obey my parents, since they are wiser than me. This is also due to their high level of experience, as they have lived for many years.
Portia’s speech on the qualities of mercy also hits a soft spot in my heart, when debating on what to do with those who hurt you. She clearly compares mercy to rain that drops gently from heaven on land. Blessed are those who give rather than take. She tries to convince Shylock that he will be blessed if he shows mercy to Antonio and that there is no need for revenge. It made me understand the benefits of having mercy on others and avoiding a vengeful heart.
Opportunism is a quality illustrated in this book. It is seen vividly when Bassanio takes advantage of his close friendship with Antonio to get some loan, despite him owing Antonio a lot of money. He does this on the account that Antonio can not deny him the loan and also the latter finds it hard to claim for his dues. Bassanio also wants to marry Portia, a rich beautiful lady, so she can help him solve his financial mishap. This is significant to me as it teaches me to be open minded and wise enough to clearly identify those people who are genuinely in need. It puts me at a better position not to be cheated by opportunists.
Loyalty is evidenced by Jessica, who, despite being a Muslim, elopes with Lorenzo and later converts to Christianity. She pledges loyalty to her lover. Antonio also agrees to be Bassanio’s guarantor, despite having bad blood with Shylock. Bassanio owes him a lot of money, yet he goes out of his way to assist him. He is also arraigned in court for failing to honor his pledge of repaying Shylock’s debt. This is because of the loyalty he holds for their friendship with Bassanio. Portia goes through all odds like disguising herself as a man in order to get into the court room. She goes ahead to pick sides in order to save Antonio, her suitor’s friend. This has taught me to avoid hypocrisy and stay loyal to everything important to me.
Antonio’s sad mood, as it is depicted in the book, is due to the loss of a friend, someone to whom he swore a secret pilgrimage. He can not handle his daily chores and it really affects his normal routine. Happiness does not necessarily have to emanate from richness. There are other virtues that bring it about, and love sums it all up. The love Antonio has for his friend matters to him more than his business and money.
Works of literature have various impacts on the readers, depending on their preferences and skills. I found this book interesting and it posed a challenge to my daily life. I learnt many virtues which I always apply in my life.