The Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What are some character similarities between Portia and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice?

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dkaye eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Portia and Shylock both attend to the letter of the law.

This shared value is most obviously on display in the courtroom scene, when Shylock refuses to allow Antonio to repay him three times the amount of the original loan, instead demanding that Antonio stick to the literal terms of the contract. We know that this doesn't stem from his greed, because Shylock doesn't gain any material wealth or success by taking the "pound of flesh" guaranteed by the contract--in fact, by turning down the offer of triple repayment, he's losing money.   Instead, he seems motivated by a combination of revenge against Antonio's earlier insults to him and to his fellow Jews (when they are first together on stage, Shylock says Antonio kicked him like a stray dog and called him a "misbeliever, cut-throat, dog / And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine", I.iii) and his devotion to the literal terms of the written contract.  While medieval and Renaissance Christians contrasted what...

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muddy-mettled | Student

See recent notes and place your Q in the search MV box(above right) or browse, etc.  Another issue is that we learn in Act 1, scene 2 that Portia's father has died.  It is implied that Shylock's wife has also died(3.1).  So, each seems to be dealing with a death in the family.