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Compare and contrast the two characters Portia and Bassanio

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"The Merchant of Venice" Compare and contrast the two characters Portia and Bassanio "The Merchant of Venice" is a Shakespearean play based on the themes of friendship, racial prejudice, deceptive appearances and love, of which the most romantic is the love between Portia and Bassanio. In contrast, the other two couples - Lorenzo and Jessica, Gratiano and Nerissa - exhibit playful or down-to-earth love. Portia is as faultless as one could imagine. She is blessed with beauty, heavenly qualities surpassing all other women on Earth and moreover "richly left". Portia's image is consistent as a goddess, an angel. However, she is by no means the "unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpractised" which she claims to be, but is on the contrary "sophisticated, educated and intelligent". Throughout the play, she exhibits wit, resourcefulness, complete love for Bassanio and generosity towards friends. Her prejudice towards Jews and foreigners is probably one of the only blemish to her otherwise perfect character. Compared to Portia, Bassanio is only a normal citizen in Venice who has "disabled mine estate/by something showing a more swelling port". ...read more.


His choice is not based on ego or self-delusion but a combination of intuition and practical wisdom. His reaction to his success is not arrogant and domineering but modest and respectful. This proves that he is a deeper, more thoughtful and sensitive character rather than a shallow, mercenary socialite which we are led to believe at the beginning of the play. Portia's wit is again shown in the trial scene, where she cleverly got Shylock to reject in open court both the idea of mercy and the idea of money as alternatives to the pound of flesh. Shylock is trapped when Portia quietly points out that the bond "doth give thee here no jot of blood" and if he spills one "drop of Christian blood" in the process of cutting a pond of flesh from Antonio, his "lands and goods" will be forfeited to the state. While Portia's intelligence and wit saved Antonio, it clearly illustrates the unfair justice being mete out to Shylock, one of minority Jews in the Christian dominated city of Venice. ...read more.


She is willing to be a submissive and loyal wife, and regards Bassanio as "from her lord, her governor, her king". She is sensitive to Bassanio feelings and shares his problems, as she is "half yourself (Bassanio)". On the other hand, Bassanio is a typical romantic hero who is chivalrous and gallant, although part of Bassanio's motive for wooing Portia is to pay off his debts referring the trip to Belmont to woo Portia as a "secret pilgrimage", thus making Portia into a goddess. Bassanio's loyalty and responsibility is once again emphasised in the trial scene, where he refuses to give away his wedding ring. He is also quick to ask for Portia's forgiveness when he returned to Belmont from Venice. In conclusion, Portia and Bassanio is a compatible couple, sharing many similar qualities - intelligence, affectionate, sensitive, loyal, generous, and devoted to each other. Their relationship typifies ideal love and involves self-sacrificing, sharing, humility and devotion. Despite her submissive and humble attitude towards Bassanio, Portia proves to be a little more superior of the two and is capable of being a strong adversary to her foe. ...read more.

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