The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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What would Portia's ideal husband advertisement look like in The Merchant of Venice?

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Portia's advertisement seeking an ideal husband would be based on her own ideas and desires. In order to figure out what Portia is seeking in a husband, we need go no further than her conversations with her best friend, her lady in waiting, Nerissa. Portia confides in Nerissa upon every point of her life. In the beginning of the play, Portia feels constrained by her father's will, which demands that she marry a man who selects the right casket associated with a riddle and its appearance. This seems arbitrary and useless to Portia, and she confides her concerns in her friend.

When the ladies are discussing Portia's many suitors, Nerissa names them and Portia shoots them down one by one. One could devise an advertisement based on her reasons for rejecting each suitor. First, the Neapolitan prince won't stop talking about his horse, which turns Portia off. Next is County Palatine, who never smiles. Portia fears he, along with the first suitor, will be too sad and boring to live with. Third is the French lord, Monsieur le Bon, who seems to be a coward because he can't fence. He's also one who frowns a lot and she says he would drive her mad. The fourth is Falconbridge of England, with whom Portia cannot communicate because they don't speak a similar language. He's also odd to her as far as fashion is concerned. Fifth and Sixth are a Scottish man and a German: the former is dependent upon others like the French to rule him and the latter is drunk all of the time (I.iii.34-76).

Therefore, Portia's advertisement would probably look something like the following:

Beautiful heiress seeking young and honorable Christian man who smiles easily, enjoys life, and cares about others. He must be able-bodied, good with a sword, confident, and willing to uphold the values and standards of Belmont estate. He must also dress respectably, not drink all day long, and have a keen and intellectual mind.

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