Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Portia's Speech from the Merchant of Venice

There is possibly no other book I'd read as many times as I read Merchant of Venice (9 times). The reasons though were purely academic. But some good does come of it. How else could I have remembered these brilliant lines while reading the news today? The truth in these lines is as relevant today as it was at the time of its writing (1598 AD). Bill Shakespeare, what a writer!

Portia(Addressed to Shylock):
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath.
It is twice blessed.
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
It is mightiest in the mightiest,
It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
An attribute to awe and majesty.
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself.
And earthly power dost the become likest God's,
Where mercy seasons justice.
Therefore Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice we all must see salvation,
We all do pray for mercy
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy.
I have spoke thus much to mittgate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou dost follow,
This strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence gainst the merchant there.

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