Lorenzo’s union with Jessica mirrors that of Bassanio’s with Portia, in that both couples’ relationships must overcome obstacles in a way that Gratiano and Nerissa’s spur-of-the-moment marriage does not. By stealing Jessica away from Shylock, Lorenzo functions within the play as a means of furthering Shylock’s desire for revenge against Antonio, who represents all Christians and the extreme prejudice with which they have treated Shylock. Lorenzo also serves as a punitive force; because Shylock is positioned as the antagonist, the narrative demands he face consequences. Not only does Lorenzo essentially take Shylock’s daughter away from him by marrying her, he also becomes the heir to Shylock’s estate. This coincides with Shylock’s forced conversion to Christianity and signifies a victor in the religious back-and-forth that has persisted throughout the play, the result of which, in Shakespeare’s time, would have been a foregone conclusion.
Lorenzo and Jessica end the play happily, comparing themselves to famous lovers. The lovers they name, however—Troilus and Cressida, Pyramus and Thisbe, Dido and Aeneas, Medea and Jason—suffer conspicuously tragic fates, sounding an ironic and darkly comic note that preempts the similarly humorous misunderstanding and betrayal inherent in the final reveal with Portia and Nerissa’s rings.