In Act 3, Scene 2 from The Merchant of Venice, from the extract, " And yet a maiden hath no tongue, but thought ...the other half yours," what reason does Portia give at the end of her speech for...

In Act 3, Scene 2 from The Merchant of Venice, from the extract, " And yet a maiden hath no tongue, but thought ...the other half yours," what reason does Portia give at the end of her speech for speaking so long and what does this show about her feelings towards Bassanio?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In The Merchant of Venice, since Portia's father found it necessary to impose his will on her by restricting her marriage choices, Portia has met and waited anxiously for various suitors to fail in their quest to win her hand in marriage. If they choose the correct casket, wherein they will find a picture of Portia, this indicates that they may marry her. Bassanio is the first potential suitor in whom Portia shows some real interest and her words in the extract commencing "And yet a maiden hath no tongue..." (III.ii.8-16)  reveal both her sincere feelings towards Bassanio and her concern that, if he chooses incorrectly, she will be doomed to keep waiting for a suitor and potentially accepting a husband without any choice of her own. 

In spending time with Bassanio, Portia suggests that she may be able to guide him towards making the right choice, although she is quick to assure him that she will never actually tell him, even if she wishes that she could. Portia tells Bassanio that he has bewitched her when she says," They (his eyes) have o'erlooked me..."(15)  

Portia continues talking and goes on to explain why she is sustaining the conversation, when she says ," 'tis to peize the time." (22) What Portia means here is that she is trying to make their time together last longer. She wants to stall his making a choice ("election") of a casket because of her fears. If he does not choose correctly he will have to leave immediately and so Portia is revealing that she really does want Bassanio to make the right choice and she wants to marry him because she  has feelings for him. 

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