Compare and contrast Portia of The Merchant of Venice with Viola of Twelfth Night.  

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The big similarity is that both Portia and Viola disguise themselves as men at some point in the story. Their reasons for doing so are different, however: Portia does so to rescue Antonio from Shylock's vengeance, while Viola is disguising herself in a foreign land where as a woman she might be vulnerable to physical assault or others who would take advantage of women. She is also hoping to gain employment in the court of Duke Orsino, who might not wish to employ a woman.

As characters, the two contrast greatly. Portia comes off as more assertive than the gentle Viola. Portia manipulates situations to get what she wants, such as guiding Bassanio to choose the correct casket so she can have him for her husband. Viola pines for Orsino by contrast, though to...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 403 words.)

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