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Portia - A Character Analysis

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Portia Character Analysis In "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare, Portia is one of the most complex characters in the play. She is an heiress of her wealthy father in Belmont, where many suitors want this fair and rich lady to be their wife. But her father has prepared a lottery before his death, to restrict Portia to who she will merry by making the suitor choose the right casket among three caskets (made of gold, silver and lead). This gives her no choice in her future husband, but she still abides with the rules and despite the setback, she remains cheerful and positive. After many attempts from different men, Bassanio turns up and chooses the right casket and they married and she gave him a ring, and said that if that ring was to ever part his finger, then this relationship would end. ...read more.


But after he picks the wrong casket, she tells us that she does not like him, "A gentle riddance! Draw the curtains, go." In Act 4 Sc 1, Portia disguises as Doctor Balthazar, the lawyer who defends Antonio from being killed by Shylock at the very last moment. In this scene, we find many contradictions in the things she says and does. For instance, she talks strictly of the law, but she is bending the law herself, by imitating as a lawyer. She gives everyone a speech on mercy, but then callously destroys Shylock. She has cleverly made traps for Shylock to fall into, like offering him triple the amount in debt, rather than the pound of flesh. Then she pretends to judge that Shylock will have his pound of flesh. ...read more.


In the courtroom scene, when Bassanio offers his life to Antonio, Portia replied that if his wife was to hear that, she would not be happy, "Your wife would give you little thanks for that, if she were by, to hear you make the offer." The ring plot was also Portia's idea, where she tests his husband if he really loves her or not. He did give the ring to Balthazar and when Bassanio returned home, Portia acted as if she was angry and she proved that he was disloyal to her, but at the end, she tells her that is was just a mock and they were happy to be together again. To conclude, Portia is perhaps one of the most intelligent and appealing heroine in Shakespeare history, appearing as the beauty and wealthy lady in Belmont, while in Venice, the decisive and intelligent lawyer who saved Antonio's life. ...read more.

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