How is Portia characterized in act 1, scene 2, of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice?

Portia is characterized in act 1, scene 2, of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice as a conflicted, intelligent woman, who is obedient, loyal, and perceptive. Portia is a wealthy hopeless romantic who insists on following her deceased father's will but is worried that the wrong suitor will choose the correct casket. She longs for the opportunity to exercise her individual choice but is not willing to compromise her morals or standards.

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The audience is introduced to Portia in act 1, scene 2 while she is having an insightful conversation about her father's will and the many suitors interested in winning her hand in marriage. Portia's first lines portray her as a weary, depressed young woman who is frustrated and stressed out about her difficult situation. When Nerissa encourages Portia to be optimistic and consider her good fortune, Portia responds by saying,

I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o'er a cold decree (1.2.15–18).

Portia's response depicts her as an intelligent, acute woman, who understands human nature and recognizes moral ambiguity. She then complains about her unfortunate, unique situation, which prevents her from marrying the man of her choice.

The fact that Portia honors her deceased father's will illustrates her loyalty and morally upright nature. However, she is conflicted...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 885 words.)

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