What is a character sketch of the six suitors in The Merchant of Venice?
Portia's disgruntlement with being compelled to select a suitor from the young men that her late father has arranged to come to Belmont produces some uproarious effects. Shakespeare uses his plot as an opportunity to satirize the noblemen of England and its neighboring countries of France, Scotland, and Germany. Portia's description of six of her suitors in act 1, scene 2 provides comic relief for the tragicomedy The Merchant of Venice.
The first six suitors come to Belmont, and after they depart, Portia speaks with Nerissa about them.
1. The Neapolitan Prince: Portia, who calls him a "colt" [meaning a stallion] describes this man as obsessed with his horse and its sterling qualities. He boasts of his skills in shoeing his horse himself. Drolly, Portia says that she suspects that the prince's mother must have "played wrong [had an affair] with a [black]smith" (1.2.42), implying that she was a mare.
2. The Count Palatine: Portia describes this man of royalty as perpetually frowning. His gloomy nature permits him no joy. For instance, "[H]e hears merry tales and smiles not." (1.2.46) Portia adds that if she marries such a melancholy man, it will be like living with "the weeping philosopher"; that is, another Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, who perceived all things as one.
Heraclitus held extreme views that led to logical incoherence. For he held that (1) everything is constantly changing and (2) opposite things are identical, so that (3) everything is and is not at the same time. [http://www.iep.utm.edu/heraclit]
3. Monsieur Le Bon: Portia cannot identify any real personality in this man: " . . . he is every man in no man."
4. Falconbridge: Portia says that this young baron from England speaks none of the languages that she knows. She describes the Englishman as having no real identity, either, since his manner of dress indicates nothing about him. He wears a doublet from Italy, his round hose [a lower garment that functions both as stockings and breeches] from France, and his "bonnet" from Germany. Portia adds that his behavior also comes from everywhere.
5. The Scottish lord: With Portia's description, Shakespeare satirizes the Scots. Portia tells Nerissa that when the Scotsman was boxed on the ear by the Englishman, he promised to pay the Englishman back with the aid of the Frenchman. (This is a...
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