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Merchant of Venice Essay: The Character of Portia

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Length: 1974 words (5.6 double-spaced pages)
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The Character of Portia in Merchant of Venice  

In his Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare wants the reader to admire Portia, arguably the most powerful character in the play. However, it is easy to mistake the word ‘admiration’ to mean simply a liking of someone’s positive virtues. Rather, we should like Portia because of those things that make her a multi-faceted character. Though she can appear to be an “unlessoned girl,” she is also conniving, manipulative, and powerful. Three examples that effectively show her prowess and as a result win our admiration of her occur during the casket, the trial, and the ring scenes.

One reason why Shakespeare wants us to appreciate Portia is because of the respect that radiates from her during the casket scene. Respect is clearly shown when she follows the prescription of her father’s will, which stipulates that she is to be wed to whoever can successfully figure out the riddle of the caskets and pick the one that has her likeness in it:

I may neither choose who I would nor refuse
who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter c...

... middle of paper ...

...ura of compassion and a strong sense of commitment. She puts herself on the line for the sake of her Bassanio. On the other hand, when she is crossed - or better yet when something she is endeared to is threatened - she is prepared to unleash a havoc to make things better again.


Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. 1967. Ed. W. Moelwyn Merchant. The New Penguin Shakespeare. London: Penguin Books, 1996.

- - -. Othello. 1968. Ed. Kenneth Muir. The New Penguin Shakespeare. London: Penguin Books, 1996.


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