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How is Portia portrayed by Shakespeare in the merchant of Venice

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Introduction

How is Portia portrayed by Shakespeare in the merchant of Venice? In the merchant of Venice, Shakespeare portrays Portia to be a person of mixed characters, her attitude and mood seems to change with every scene. However, she is always seen by us as being pleasant and polite. Shakespeare portrays Portia's character through other characters as well as directly, Nerissa is used almost as a comparison to which we can judge Portia, and by observing other character's references to her, we can also build up a more detailed mage of her personality. Portia is first introduced to us by Shakespeare in Scene 2, This scene gives us a basic idea of her personality, and through her speeches, Shakespeare portrays an outgoing and intelligent, Shakespeare exploits this intelligence later in the play and introduces bravery in the trial scene. The fact that Shakespeare makes Portia talk about her marriage and her unfortunate obligation to use other measures but love to find a husband creates the idea that marriage is at the forefront of her characters mind, and the plays setting. ...read more.

Middle

But however keen to follow her fathers will, she is very blatantly judgemental, and she talks openly about how she remembers him favourably. Shakespeare often includes indirect compliments towards Portia through other characters, and nearing the end of this scene, Nerissa remarks, "True madam, he of all men that ever my foolish eyes looked upon, was the best deserving a fair lady". The intelligence that Shakespeare adds to Portia's character at the beginning of the play is again used nearing the end of the play, and although her character is consistently presented as witty by Shakespeare, this wittiness is presented in a far more prominent manner in this scene. This wit and ability to trick others is presented most strongly when she puts a twist on shylocks bond. First Shakespeare makes Portia lull Shylock into a false sense of security by 'accepting' that by law shylock is indeed entitled to the taking of 1 pound of Antonio's flesh, and she then finds a loophole in the law by which not only to spare Antonio's life, but also to criminalise shylock. ...read more.

Conclusion

In her speech before Bassanio makes his choice, Shakespeare adds dashes at the ends of half completed lines to show that she is interrupting herself. This is the first time that we see Portia in such a way, and it serves to show just how diverse her character, it also shows an apparent weakness for love and that behind the wit and mocking is a more loving and a softer side. The compassion that she shows towards Bassanio is extended into the next scene when she offers any sum of money to save Bassanios friend Antonio. The sheer fact that she would offer such a sacrifice to save an unknown character is enough to convince the audience that she has a heart, but Shakespeare reinforces it further by making her dress up in mens clothing and travelling a huge distance just to represent him in court. I think Shakespeare wanted to create a character who held the story together and so created this very stable but unpredictable character to create an overwhelming sense of wit and compassion through a describes beautiful character. ...read more.

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