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Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” should note his tendency for selfish behavior and thinking. Shylock is a man who is unreasonable and self-thinking, demanding, as one of the important quotes in “The Merchant of Venice” goes, “a weight of carrion flesh” (IV.i.41) from a man he suspects will not be able to repay him simply because it is his “humour” to do so (IV.i.43). Because he is the villain of this play, justice can only be served if Shakespeare’s Shylock is punished in a manner that is congruent with his violations of social norms and laws. At the same time, though, his punishment is problematic for it seems to mimic the very crime of which Shylock is really being accused, and that crime is absolutism. By insisting that Shylock must be punished in the way that he is in ‘The Merchant of Venice”, Shakespeare raises doubts about the purity of Christian love and mercy, which certainly creates implications for the very notions of both punishment and villainy.
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