Free Merchant of Venice Essays: The Character of Portia

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Portia is a woman who is subservient to the attitudes of her times. She is educated beyond measure and yet is subject to the will of the males in her life. First of all she is forced to obey the dictates of her father's will and must marry the man who guesses the right casket. Secondly she is under the direction of her husband Bassanio, who takes over her fortune and is in charge of her. It does seem that the men in this play portray women as no better than cattle or land. Portia disguises herself as a young male judge to save her husband's best friend. She is very clever in stating the exact words of the contract between Shylock and Antonio. Then when Shylock wants his pound of flesh Portia tells him he can not spill a drop of blood in the process or he will lose all that he has. In the end Portia manages to do just what she started to do, save Antonio's life. During the trial, she overhears her husband tell Antoino that he loves his friend more than his wife. To Portia's dismay Bassanio gives his wedding ring in payment to the lawyer (Portia) for his fees. This is done possibly under duress for Bassanio did promise Portia that he would never part with the ring. When Bassanio returns home to find his wife blocking the doorway to the house, he knows something is wrong. She asks him where his wedding ring has gone to and is told that it is not here. She refuses to share the same bed with him till he has the ring back on his finger. Portia finds it in her heart to forgive Bassanio and gives the ring to Antonio; he in turn gives it to his friend Bassanio.
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