Merchant of Venice

Disscuss portia's character. How does she compare to the men around her? Is bassanio a worthy husband for her?


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Portia as a character is an odd mixture of various traits. She is first presented as the ruler of Belmont, clearly in charge of both herself and those around her. However, we soon discover that she is not in charge, indeed it is "the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father" (1.2.21). Portia's reliance on the wishes of her dead father therefore contradicts the image of her as Belmont's ruler. Indeed, like many of the women in Shakespeare's plays, she will be unable to alter the plot around her as long as she is a woman. It is only later in the play, by dressing as Balthasar, a man, that she will finally be able to really command events and manipulate the play.

Bassanio is a worthy husband for Portia because he is a risk taker and because they share a similar upbringing. Of all the suitors, Bassanio is the only one with a Venetian background. Like Portia, he is also a Christian. Thus, although they do not share a long term long that progresses to a decision to marry, they share a similar heritage and worldview.