By expressing the absolute cruelty of man due to his own prejudice, the Shakespearean play Merchant of Venice acts as a worldwide plea for tolerance. Throughout time men have killed and suppressed each other because of the misunderstanding of their differences. Believing that anything different is wrong, entire cultures have been wiped out by others, without a thought to the vast history being lost. In this play, the merchant, Antonio, is put into a life-threatening position because of his past intolerance of the Jews, and the way he has treated them. By the end he has learned that tolerance is important, as well as mercy, justice and friendship. A tiny voice in the overwhelming darkness of our own ignorance, the Merchant of Venice speaks out, imploring the world to become more tolerant, to improve conditions for people everywhere. .
Despite personal differences in things as prominent as religion, the play is begging us to show tolerance, portrayed sharply in Shylock's speech to Solanio and Salerio. Shylock speaks of equality and how each man should tolerate another. We are allfed with the same food?healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer?(II, I, 55-57).? The Jews are humans just as the Christians are, yetif a Jew wrong a Christian (II, I, 62),? then the punishmentby Christian example (II, I 64)? is revenge. Because a major belief of Shylock's is justice,the villainy (II, I, 65)? taught to him hewill execute and?better the instruction (II, I, 66).? As he is not tolerated, Shylock is determined to get justice by any means possible, including revenge on Antonio, who has taught him the attitude he now holds. Antonio haslaugh?d at [his] losses, mock?d [his] gains [and] scorned [his] nation (III, I, 49-50),? but his only reason is that Shylock is a Jew. Being shown no tolerance has made Shylockcrave the law, the penalty and forfeit of [his] bond (IV, I, 202-203).