The Merchant of Venice Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Explain the relationship between Portia and her father in The Merchant of Venice.

In The Merchant of Venice, Portia's father left instructions after his death for a three-casket "test" for Portia to follow to determine which of Portia's many suitors would be a suitable husband for her, meaning someone who would love Portia for herself, not just for her wealth and beauty. Portia loved and respected her father enough to follow his wishes, even though it deprived her of making her own decision about the man she would marry.

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Portia's father dies before the beginning of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, but he left instructions to follow a particular method and procedure for deciding the man who will be her husband. Portia has no real choice in the matter, and the outcome is determined solely by which of three small caskets each of her suitor's chooses.

Portia seems to resent her father’s meddling in her life even after his death, and there's also a sense that she's not at all pleased that he didn't trust her to make her own decision about a husband.

PORTIA. [S]o is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a
dead father:—Is it not hard, Nerissa, that I cannot choose
one, nor refuse none?
(act 1, scene 2, lines 22–24)

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1,201 words.)

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