Merchant of Venice

Father-Daughter Relationships in The Merchant of Venice

Despite the lack of a strong paternal figure in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, two separate father-daughter relationships play an integral role in the central plot of the play. The strained relationship of Venetian moneylender Shylock and his daughter Jessica, as well as the nonexistent association between Portia and her deceased father, lead the two young women to act as they do, in turn affecting the entire cast of characters. As a common theme in the works of William Shakespeare, suffering in the name of love also applies to the two heroines of The Merchant of Venice. The delicate subject of love is further complicated by the demanding, unwavering standards set by the respective fathers of Jessica and Portia. It is these strict rules, decreed by the two powerful patriarchs, which bring Jessica and Portia together as sympathetic characters in the eyes of the reader; two women deeply in love, unable to consummate their feelings with the men they care for because of the iron rule of their fathers. However, as the play progresses, it becomes apparent that the two women are quite different. While love consumes Jessica, clouding her judgement and eventually bringing harm upon Shylock, Portia chooses to respect the dying...

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