Portia

Lamentations 3:22  “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.”

Although I have not read all 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays, of the ones I have read for pleasure as well as the ones assigned to me, The Merchant of Venice is my favorite.  It is difficult to find a better story line or plot than in this play.

If I were to visit London, I would certainly not want to miss seeing the Globe Theatre and set my imagination to work on viewing the master writer of his time himself perform Hamlet.  Just thinking about it sends me in ecstasy!  I was reading Romeo and Juliet with a tutoring student this week.  Since he is a football blood and guts sort of guy, he was not at all interested in the beauty and power of the story.  I did manage to gain some interest with my description of Tybalt and the pending duel. Obviously, the teacher had not laid out an appetite for this famous piece of literature.

Several of the sources I researched yesterday laid claim to the fact that Shakespeare is quoted second only to the Holy Bible.  I hope that some of my students from yesteryear remember at least a portion of Portia’s speech in her plea that Shylock not be granted a pound of Antonio’s flesh.  Orators find these lines particularly useful.  So should believing Christians who cherish the mercy of God.  Here are the famous 24 lines:  Act IV, scene i: (I am audacious to point out the lines I want to particularly note by making them bold.  Putting all 24 lines together is, indeed, a lovely piece of literature.)

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
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 thronéd 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 enthronéd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
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.

William Shakespeare, 1564-1616

 

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5 Comments

  1. Glenda

    Much thought to be given here, concerning the events of recent days….Thank you for doing the research for us.

  2. Portia was quite a woman. I don’t think Antonio knew what he had there 🙂
    I love Shakespeare, and especially got a kick out of teaching his works. Once my students understood the stories, they usually dug right in.

    I used to give them a “Bible or Will” quiz at some point in the unit. Did the Bible say it, or did the Bard of Avon? Surprising how often they got it wrong, and how hard they tried to convince me they were right 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Linda. I enjoy many of the English writers, Milton and Tennyson in particular. The older I grow, the more I seem to appreciate English history and the steadfastness of the Puritans. We do not have it difficult in America by comparrison of those times. The reason I started digging around in Shakespeare’s writing this week was because my student’s teacher told the students that he was probably homosexual. What in the world? None of the biographers I searched into had a single inking of that. His wife was much older than he was. Anyhow, I’ve been thinking so much about “The quality of mercy. . .” lately because it seems our country’s citizens are all so angry. It doesn’t matter the political stripe, they are all so strident. Seems we could be nicer, merciful, understanding, show compassion. . .

  3. Well, to be politically correct, you can be nice and merciful etc. toward everyone you don’t agree with and believe is ungodly. You just can’t be nice to anyone who holds to biblical principles and standards, or to old-fashioned flag-waving Americans. Odd, isn’t it?

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