How does Portia prove her strength to Brutus?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here's Portia, answering your question:

I grant I am a woman, but withal
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife.
I grant I am a woman, but withal
A woman well reputed, Cato's daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd and so husbanded?
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose em.
I have made strong proof of my constancy,
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience
And not my husband's secrets?

Portia argues with Brutus, saying that she is a woman of a good reputation, with a famous, noble father, and a famous, noble husband. She, she says, is easily noble enough to be able to be trusted with Brutus' secrets.

Moreover, she has given herself a "voluntary wound" in the thigh - she has wounded herself, and, she says, if she can bear the wound with patience, surely she can bear her husband's secrets. Very odd, but - to the Romans - it would have been a real sign of her constancy and trustiworthiness.

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act One, Scene 2, Portia questions her husband about why he has been behaving strange and irritable. When Brutus attempts to dismiss his wife's concerns, Portia gives a passionate speech about how she deserves to know what is bothering her husband. Portia comments on her excellent reputation as Cato's daughter and assures Brutus that she will not reveal his secrets. Portia then calls Brutus' attention to the voluntary wound on her thigh that she gave herself. Portia proves her strength to Brutus by showing him that she has the ability to conceal such a painful wound. She then asks her husband, "Can I bear that with patience, and not my husband’s secrets?" (2.1.310-311). However, Brutus does not get a chance to reveal his secrets to Portia because he is interrupted by Caius Ligarius knocking at his door. Despite Portia wounding herself to prove her strength, she does not find out about Brutus's plot. 

babybluerulez | Student

Portia shows her strength to Brutus by stabbing herself in the thigh. She did this to prove that just because she is a woman, that doesn't mean that she can't be as strong as him.

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Julius Caesar

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