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Shylock’s Day at Court in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

One must wonder if Shylock the Jew ever received his day at the Merchant of Venice’s court. Some said yes, others no. Shylock was in court to collect his bail. He lent three thousand ducats to Bassanio to marry Portia. Antonia, the merchant of Venice, was the surety. However, when the bond expired, Antonio did not pay as prescribed in the bond. The bond was due in three months and is now overdue. Shylock rightfully had a claim under the law. He is Jewish, raised Jewish, lived in a Jewish slum, and believed that his bond should be paid according to Old Testament law.

Shylock struggled in court when he tried to collect his bail. Gratiano enraged him, who should have been banned from the courtroom due to his actions towards Shylock. Frontman Duke, who acted as a judge, refused to crack down on the actions of Gratiano and other antagonists in court. The Duke made a statement as follows: “In my power, I can dismiss this court / Unless Bellario, a learned physician / Whom I have sent to determine this case / Come here today.” Obviously, the duke had already made up his mind even before the case against the Jew Shylock began, not to allow him to get his pound of meat from Antonio, the surety. Obviously, Shylock was facing a Kangaroo.

Interestingly, when Portia (married to Bassanio) disguised as Bellario, the learned judge, showed up, things got worse for Shylock. He had the law on his side and Antonio owed him; however, Bellario made a request for mercy based on New Testament Law. He knew that Shylock would reject the statement and ask for his bond to be posted in accordance with the law. He believed in the Old Testament Law. This would give him the advantage he wanted to crush Shylock.

Bellario (Portia, who is married to Bassanio) the learned judge, presented some arguments in favor of Shylock at the beginning of the case to claim that Antonio owed him and that he had the law on his side. Subsequently, he turned the table against him. She referred to him indignantly as a Jew, showed him no mercy when in turn begged him for mercy, and classified him as a foreigner and not a citizen of Venice. He even refused to post his bail and also confiscated his property as a penalty for the court. The actions of the supposedly scholarly judge caused others in court to turn against Shylock. You could say that his actions and decisions were exaggerated.

In the end, Shylock lost his case. He was stripped of his property. The members of the court laughed. The court even made him a Christian. Others certainly had their day at court, but certainly not Shylock, who tried to collect his bail of three thousand ducats, which was due, and simply lost.

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