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the quality of mercy is not strained in Culture

The quality of mercy is not strained

A line from the play The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare. Strained means “constrained,” or “forced”; the speaker is telling Shylock that mercy must be freely given, and is inviting him to show mercy to the title character.

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The quality of mercy is not strained

Mercy is something that has to be freely given; no one can force someone else to be merciful. (“Strained” is an old form of “constrained,” meaning “forced.”) From The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.