Tropes of speech in ‘Merchant of Venice’

Bennett and Royle argue that, far from having a merely “decorative” function, “figuration is fundamental to ourworld, to our lives” (“Figures and Tropes” 82). Keeping this sentence in mind, explain two (2) tropes/figures of speech in one of the stanzas from the Merchant of Venice below, and relate these lines to larger conceptual ideas of sexual difference or racial difference.

1. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels, had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teachtwenty whatweregoodtobedone,thanbeoneofthetwentytofollowmineownteaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree—such a hare ismadnesstheyouth,toskip o’erthemeshesofgoodcounselthecripple.Butthisreasoningis not in the fashion to choose me a husband. O me, the word ‘choose’! I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father. Is it not hard […] that I cannot choose, nor refuse none (7)?

2. I pray you think you question with the Jew. You may as well go stand upon the beach And bid the main flood bate his usual height; You may as well use question with the wolf Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb; You may as well forbid the mountain pines To wag their high tops and to make no noise When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven; You may as well do anything most hard As seek to soften that—than which what’s harder?— His Jewish heart. Therefore I do beseech you Make no more offers, use no farther means, But with all brief and plain conveniency Let me have judgement, and the Jew his will (69).

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