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The Quality of Mercy (Shakespeare quote)

"The quality of mercy" refers to a quote by Portia in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice; it occurs during Act IV, Scene 1, set in a Venetian Court of Justice. It is the speech in which Portia begs Shylock for mercy. Some sources set apart the first four lines of the speech or refer only to the first four lines as the subject of "The quality of mercy". Other sources refer to a longer portion of the speech but not the full 22 lines.

The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

The speech is regarded as one of the great speeches in Shakespeare and is made by Portia, disguised as young lawyer Balthazar, who speaks with heightened eloquence to beg Shylock for mercy after traveling from the fictional town of Belmont to Venice.

Mercy and forgiveness are enduring themes that pervade Shakespeare's works. The quote is an example of the esteem Shakespeare held for those who showed mercy as expressed in his poetry. Shakespeare presented mercy as a quality most valuable to the most powerful, strongest and highest people in society.



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