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The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare




Quick-witted, wealthy, and beautiful, Portia embodies the virtues that are typical of Shakespeare’s heroines—it is no surprise that she emerges as the antidote to Shylock’s malice. At the beginning of the play, however, we do not see Portia’s potential for initiative and resourcefulness, as she is a near prisoner, feeling herself absolutely bound to follow her father’s dying wishes. This opening appearance, however, proves to be a revealing introduction to Portia, who emerges as that rarest of combinations—a free spirit who abides rigidly by rules. Rather than ignoring the stipulations of her father’s will, she watches a stream of suitors pass her by, happy to see these particular suitors go, but sad that she has no choice in the matter. When Bassanio arrives, however, Portia proves herself to be highly resourceful, begging the man she loves to stay a while before picking a chest, and finding loopholes in the will’s provision that we never thought possible. Also, in her defeat of Shylock Portia prevails by applying a more rigid standard than Shylock himself, agreeing that his contract very much entitles him to his pound of flesh, but adding that it does not allow for any loss of blood. Anybody can break the rules, but Portia’s effectiveness comes from her ability to make the law work for her.

Portia rejects the stuffiness that rigid adherence to the law might otherwise suggest. In her courtroom appearance, she vigorously applies the law, but still flouts convention by appearing disguised as a man. After depriving Bassanio of his ring, she stops the prank before it goes to far, but still takes it far enough to berate Bassanio and Gratiano for their callousness, and she even insinuates that she has been unfaithful.

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How do most critics describe Shylock?
A bloodthirsty bogeyman
A clownish Jewish stereotype
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Portia QUIZ

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you should make a video summary

by Camiboksailor, May 27, 2014

of the merchant of venice, it would really help


1 out of 1 people found this helpful

Comparison of the characters of Antonio and Bassanio

by urvibibbo, December 08, 2014

Antonio is introduced as a rich merchant having many ventures at sea.He is always in a state of melancholy and not interested in love.Loyalty and generosity towards Bassanio are the major traits of his character.Compared to Antonio, Bassanio is shown as a spendthrift young gallant, who live sin a life of luxury beyond his means.he seems to take undue advantage of Antonio's generosity.Unlike Antonio, he is a romantic man, who wants to marry Portia, a rich and beautiful heiress from Belmont.

Need Help

by KedarSane, December 31, 2014

I am not understanding how to write the answer for the casket choosing of the Prince of Arragorn. Please help.

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