In The Merchant of Venice, how is the Prince of Morocco "othered" by Portia?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure that "othered" is actually a word, but I know exactly what you mean. However, I don't think that Portia actively does make Morocco feel different to her because of his skin colour: though he clearly admits (from his very first line in the play) that it is an issue that might affect their (proposed) marriage.

Portia doesn't say a great deal to Morocco: and if you compare it to what she says to Aragon, you'll notice she tends to speak briefly, cursorily, to the point. Is this disregard for Morocco or is this just what Portia is like?

One thing is for sure, however. Morocco begins their encounter (and Act 2) with the line "Mislike me not for my complexion". The last line spoken in Act 2 is Portia, after Morocco's exit, and it does indeed "mislike him" for his complexion: "Let all of his complexion choose me so". Clearly Shakespeare wants Portia's reaction to Morocco's skin colour to be considered in this scenes.

malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean by "othered," so it would be difficult to answer your question.  Could you revise your question so that we know exactly what information you are looking for?

You can also check the eNotes links below for more information about this play and these two characters.

purpleviolet | Student

Actually Portia sees him as the "other". The other is the term used in literary criticism to mean someone that is different from the dominant culture, e.g. Shylock is made the "other" by the Christian characters in the play for being Jewish. The monster from Frankenstein is treated as the "other" as well as the aborigines in Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. She says:

If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I
can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his
approach; if he have the condition of a saint and the complexion
of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me. (1.2.15)


Here, Portia displays her intolerance toward black people. This is certainly the evidence of racism.

lollypop11111 | Student

portia was actually "udered" by morroco

dimplez | Student

he was a racism of colour in black