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Character Analysis of Portia

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Nicolas Eccles

on 29 October 2015

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Transcript of Character Analysis of Portia

Nicolas Eccles
of Venice


Characteristics of Portia
Portia is a passionate and very intelligent woman who was originally very weary and bored due to the constraint of her father's will. She is supposed to be idealistic yet she is very realistic. She is very self controlled yet her love for Bassanio made her seem the opposite: "I pray you tarry; pause a day or two before you hazard, for in choosing wrong I lose your company" (Act 3 Sc 2 Lines 1-3). Portia is in love with Bassanio and worries if he chooses wrong they would never see each other again. Although she is usually in control of her emotions, she loses control here. She is very beautiful and wealthy and she is also the most intelligent character in the play. She spared Antonio's life with her intelligence when she told Shylock "tarry a little; there is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood; the words expressly are 'a pound of flesh'" (Act IV Sc 1 Lines 304-306). Portia used her intelligence to stop Shylock from taking a pound of Antonio's flesh and killing him. She also tricked Bassanio to see if he would break his promise on keeping their ring and sure enough he did.
Portia's Role

Portia is the protagonist in Shakespeare's T
he Merchant of Venice. S
he is the main character because without her, nothing that happened could of happened. Bassanio wanted to get out of his debts so he set off to win Portia's hand in marriage: "I have a warranty to unburden all my plots and purposes how to get clear of all the debts I owe" (Act 1 Sc 1 Lines 133-135). Without her, Bassanio would never have had the idea to go to Belmont to marry her and take her wealth. This huge idea spiraled into Bassanio and Antonio having to make a dangerous deal with Shylock. This lending of money was the main conflict of the whole play and was resolved by Portia when she saved Antonio's life in court. Women were thought to be inferior to men when the play was written, so it was significant that she solved the major conflict of the play. She was the most intelligent character, perhaps the most complex and she was featured in the majority of the play. In her relationship with Bassanio, it is clear to say that she is the one in charge. This is made evident by how she easily tricked and embarassed Bassanio with the ring trick.

Portia advances the theme(s) of the Merchant of Venice. She breaks down gender barriers when she rescues Antonio from death using her wit, and she breaks down gender barriers just by being the dominant female partner in her relationship with Bassanio. In England, whence the Merchant of Venice was written, women were considered inferior to men.
racial barriers. This may simply have been Shakespeare's intent. Portia definitely provides an example we should follow. She is the hero of the play and others should aspire to be as clever and inteliigent as her. She is rewarded by having a happy life with Bassanio who she loves.
The fact that Shakespeare had a woman solve the main conflict of the play is a huge statement and the significance shows she must be the protagonist. Shakespeare was trying to express an insight on a big topic in each act of the Merchant of Venice. In Act 1 and Act 2 it was 'Race,' in Act 3 it was 'love,' Act 4 it was 'Gender,' and Act 5 it was 'Relationships.' These were all forum topics we were assigned to write about.
Portia was involved in all of these topics whereas no other character was. This is further powerful evidence indicating that Portia is indeed the protagonist. She helps Shakespeare express his ideas on all of these topics. She breaks down barriers between genders by saving Antonio and being the dominant partner but she doesn't break down
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