Who is the hero of The Merchant of Venice? Discuss.

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Portia is the heroine of the play The Merchant of Venice. The wealthy, intelligent heiress from Belmont marries Bassanio and ends up saving his friend Antonio's life at the end of the play.

Antonio had borrowed money from Shylock to fund Bassanio's trip to Belmont, taking the loan out under the condition that he would pay it back with interest or else give Shylock a pound of his flesh. After Antonio forfeits on the loan because his ships are lost at sea, Bassanio returns to Venice in hopes of preventing Shylock from retrieving a pound of Antonio's flesh.

However, Portia ends up saving Antonio's life by secretly traveling to Venice and disguising herself as a young lawyer named Balthazar. Portia then presents a moving, logical argument, which prevents Shylock from retrieving the pound of flesh and taking Antonio's life. Portia's argument also punishes Shylock for his merciless, malevolent behavior. Overall, Portia is considered the play's heroine for preventing Shylock from murdering Antonio by taking a pound of his flesh