What are Portia's thoughts when she is left alone after Bassanio’s departure for Venice?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 3, Scene 4, Portia's dialogue with Lorenzo reflects that Portia believes Bassanio's friendship with Antonio is proof that Antonio must be as noble and kind as Bassanio is.  This belief sets Portia in action, and much of Scene 4 portrays Portia preparing for a secret trip to Venice.  She puts Lorenzo in charge of her estate, tells everyone that she will confine herself to a convent until Bassanio's return, and directs her servant to deliver a letter to her cousin Dr. Bellario.

After Portia has made these preparations, she confides in Nerissa and persuades her to dress up as young man with her.  In her speech to Nerissa, Portia displays her independent spirit and her superior attitude toward men.  She mentions several negative male characteristics, and then promises:

"I have within my mind/ A thousand raw tricks of these bragging jacks/  Which I will practice" (3.4.79-81).

At this point in the play, it is unclear to the audience just what Portia is planning, but she makes it obvious that her scheme involves "putting men in their place."