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In The Merchant of Venice, do you find Portia an attractive character?In The Merchant...

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sador509 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:59 AM via web

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In The Merchant of Venice, do you find Portia an attractive character?

In The Merchant of Venice, do you find Portia an attractive character?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:13 AM (Answer #2)

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Well, this is going to be a very subjective response - everyone is going to differ in their approach to a character and how they respond to a particular character in a play. You might want to think about moving this into the discussion post section to gain a range of responses.

Portia's role is that of the golden princess - a prize to be won through the lottery her father designed. Belmont is described as glamorous, wealthy and exotic - it is a romantic place and a fairy-tale kingdom. It is clear that when Portia reviews the suitors with Nerissa, she is not just a beautiful and obedient daughter, but is also an independent, intelligent, witty and clever individual who is shrewd. She is polite to her suitors yet relieved when they fail. Although she wants Bassanio to choose correctly, she does not guide him. When he reveals the plight of his friend, Antonio, she is impulsive and generous.

Then, most interestingly, she moves from passive heroine to an active agent who succeeds where her new husband fails. Her performance in the trial is masterly, leading Shylock into the hidden trap she has identified. However note too how this aspect of her character continues after the trial as she manipulates her "merry sport" in Venice and at Belmont. She has the gifts of an actor-manager, getting the most out of each situation. She appears in the play as a young, beautiful, clever and rich woman who is also hard-headed, modest, witty and good fun.

Thus personally she is one of my favourite heroines. Compared with characters like Ophelia who is remarkably passive, Portia could be used as a feminist symbol of a woman who is the most powerful character in the play and manipulates others.

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:31 AM (Answer #3)

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This question should be a discussion post because as the first editor noted it calls for a subjective response. If you are answering the question for a class, just remember that this is not a "yes" or "no" question, but you do need to support whichever side you take. For me, Portia elicits an ambiguous response. I admire her because she is a strong Shakespearean female who refuses to wait in the background for the male characters to make decisions. In that regard, she is much different from Calpurnia and Portia from Julius Caesar or Desdemona from Othello. Similarly, her reasoning and rhetoric in Act IV's trial scene are superb and cause most readers/viewers to appreciate her wit and intelligence.

In contrast to her positive, attractive qualities, Portia does demonstrate some characteristics that trouble me. First, she uses her manipulative skills unnecessarily. Shakespeare's ring subplot from the play illustrates this. Portia knows that Bassanio is indebted to her (disguised as the attorney) because she saved Antonio's life, and yet she still tricks him into giving her the ring that he promised he would never relinquish. She obviously enjoys the prank she has pulled on her husband and forgives him in the end, but her choice to manipulate him in the first place demonstrates her somewhat petty side.

I have also always found it strange that Portia desires Bassanio as her mate. He is a spendthrift who has gotten himself into financial straits and seems not to match Portia in intelligence or wit. Portia surely recognizes these flaws in Bassanio, and so her choice of him as her husband makes the audience question if her motives are right in marrying him. Might she simply see him as someone whom she can easily control?

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vikas1802 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 2) Honors

Posted November 25, 2010 at 3:01 AM (Answer #4)

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yaeh ofcourse Portia i s an attractive character,i think the whole is is wondering aroud him ,she is the major character in the play.in the trail scene,the scene in which hshe is talking about the suitors specially about price of morroco and changing the rings ,rescuing antonio in court scene --including all she lokks like very attractive character in the play.

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sador509 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 29, 2010 at 12:42 PM (Answer #5)

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Well, this is going to be a very subjective response - everyone is going to differ in their approach to a character and how they respond to a particular character in a play. You might want to think about moving this into the discussion post section to gain a range of responses.

Portia's role is that of the golden princess - a prize to be won through the lottery her father designed. Belmont is described as glamorous, wealthy and exotic - it is a romantic place and a fairy-tale kingdom. It is clear that when Portia reviews the suitors with Nerissa, she is not just a beautiful and obedient daughter, but is also an independent, intelligent, witty and clever individual who is shrewd. She is polite to her suitors yet relieved when they fail. Although she wants Bassanio to choose correctly, she does not guide him. When he reveals the plight of his friend, Antonio, she is impulsive and generous.

Then, most interestingly, she moves from passive heroine to an active agent who succeeds where her new husband fails. Her performance in the trial is masterly, leading Shylock into the hidden trap she has identified. However note too how this aspect of her character continues after the trial as she manipulates her "merry sport" in Venice and at Belmont. She has the gifts of an actor-manager, getting the most out of each situation. She appears in the play as a young, beautiful, clever and rich woman who is also hard-headed, modest, witty and good fun.

Thus personally she is one of my favourite heroines. Compared with characters like Ophelia who is remarkably passive, Portia could be used as a feminist symbol of a woman who is the most powerful character in the play and manipulates others.

This was a verry good answer. Thank you

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