The Merchant of Venice
The quality of mercy is not strained, advocates Portia in her role as judge, but to paraphrase Forrest Gump's mother, mercy is as mercy does. And Portia doesn't do mercy that well. Therein lies the paradox at the heart of this moving play by William Shakespeare. Part comedy, part romance, part tragedy, the story of Shylock's famous loan to the merchant Antonio, secured by the infamous 'pound of flesh' illustrates everything complicated that arises when societies are navigating difference and negotiating the 'other', with nothing to guide them but their own social and cultural prejudices.