On what compulsion must I? Tell me that.
A compulsion is a demand or force.
The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest, it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to Godhimself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice: therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ’gainst the merchant there.
Mercy is not something that can be created by forcing it through a sieve or sifting it.
A monarch is a King or a Queen and the head of state.
Temporal power is earthly or limited power that is not sacred, holy or everlasting.
Mercy is more important than the everyday rule of kings and belongs in the heart of a ruler.
Notice how much religious imagery is in Portia’s speech. Why do you think she uses this sort of language?
Why do you think Portia calls Shylock ‘Jew’ rather than referring to him by name?
Although you want justice, think about this: if true justice was done on earth, none of us would see heaven. However, we do ask God for mercy for ourselves and that act of prayer teaches us that we should show mercy to others.
Do you find this speech persuasive? What aspects of it do you think are most powerful and convincing?
My deeds upon my head! I crave the law,
The penalty and forfeit of my bond.