More on justice and mercy in Shakespeare

More on justice and mercy in Shakespeare: Isabella's speech here is an echo of Portia's famous speech in Shakespeare's earlier play ‘The Merchant of Venice', which deals with the same themes of justice versus mercy.

Disguised as a lawyer, Portia faces Shylock, who wants strict justice, and scornfully asks what can force him to show mercy. Portia tells him:

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 throned monarch better than his crown …
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the heart of kings,
It is an attribute of God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

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