Merchant Of Venice: Portia Essay

Merchant Of Venice Portia Essay

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Portia: Is she the best female Shakespearean part? Portia is one of Shakespeare’s best parts for an actress and within this play she displays great wit and intelligence. Those are traits that no other female character has ever established. Shakespeare wrote The Merchant Of Venice, between 1595 and 1598 and some of the main characters in the play include: Antonio, Portia, Shylock, Bassanio, Lorenzo, Jessica, Gratiano, Nerissa, Launcelot Gobbo and County Palatine. In The Merchant Of Venice, Portia has a lot of long speeches in which she displays her intelligence by either making fun of her suitors or showing her love for Bassanio or her knowledge of law. The opening scene gives proof that Portia is rich and independent by saying: “ In Belmont is a lady richly left”. This is also shown in the scene where Bassanio tells her about the bond. She says “What, no more?” when she is told about the amount of money owed and tells him, “ Pay him six thousand, and deface the bond ;double six thousand and then treble that”. This not only shows her to be rich, but also very generous. When she married Bassanio, Portia knew that he was not as wealthy as the other suitors, but there was something different about him. Portia had enough money to live ;she does not need a rich suitor, so she fell in love with the man whom she thought could love her, and not just want to get richer. However, when Bassanio told her about the bond, Portia immediately was willing to help Antonio with the money and the defeating of Shylock the Jew. Portia gets to prove her wit and knowledge of the law in the courtroom scene when she dresses as “The Doctor Of Law” and insists on helping out. She is allowed to do this because she tells the judge that she a trainee and is well learned. If Portia did not know anything about law, then she would not have been able to help Antonio and win the case against Shylock. While pursuing her case, Portia seemed to side with Shylock by agreeing with his rights to the bond. She said, “Why this bond is forfeit ;and lawfully by this, the Jew may claim a pound of flesh” In this opening of the scene, it seems as if she is going to side with Shylock and help him. Then, at the point where Shylock is going to claim his pound of flesh, Portia sees that there is nothing about blood in the bond. She brings the whole case to a halt. It is obvious that she knew about this through the whole scene and was just trying to fool Shylock. Portia carries on the play by telling Bassanio that she needs the ring (which he promised not to give to anyone) for a reward. She then says, "And (for your love) I'll take this ring from you.” Portia is one of the central characters of the play and she is involved in the main plot more than some of the main male characters are. The whole plot revolves around Bassanio’s loan that was needed for him to woo Portia. Many of her speeches are as long, if not longer than many of the male character’s speeches, and she displays many traits that either of the two male central characters, Bassanio and Antonio, does. Bassanio appears to be reckless with the little money that he has, “’Tis not unknown to you, Antonio, how much I have disabled mine estate by something showing a more swelling port.” When Bassanio says this, it seems that he only wants to marry Portia for her money and social statures. “ Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages.” However, it is obvious towards the end of the play that he is becoming more considerate and Portia is having a good effect on him. Antonio appears generous and considerate also, but he does not show any of the wit and intelligence that Portia does. “My purse, my person, my extremest means lie all unlock’d to your occasions,” shows Antonio to be generous. Portia’s character most likely came as an inspiration to women in this point of time in history. Within Portia’s character, Shakespeare shows that women can be powerful, intelligent and greatly appreciated within society. In the beginning of the play, Portia was too perfect of a character. However, the fact that she had no say in whom she was supposed to marry or who attempted to woo her made Portia imperfect and more inadequate. This experience would have been quite stressful to any other normal woman, but she does not see it this way because she is able to make jokes about her suitors. This shows her very strong character and that she is not nervous at all. Shakespeare portrayed Portia’s character in a good way, but sometimes she was too self-centered and too concentrated on her beauty to be a favorite character. I liked Portia’s maid Nerissa bettered in terms of character. It is still felt that Portia's role would be favored over any other role in the play because she was undoubtedly the best part for an actress in not only this play, but in every other part of any play that Shakespeare had ever written for a woman.

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