MOV: Act 1 Scene 2

How has Portia’s introduction been made remarkable?


The aforesaid extract has been derived from the much fêted play, “ The Merchant of Venice”(TMOV) scripted by the eminent writer, William Shakespeare. The Romantic Heroine, Portia, has her first appearance, and it is this character, which with her discussions not only models the plot into a humorous and enjoyable read, but also sketches a remarkable personality in the minds of the audience. The plot revolves around Portia’s plight, and predominantly her witty, and icicle sharp comments on her suitors. However, its Shakespeare usage of literary devices such as metaphorical, witty sentences, repetition, foreshadowing, unmatched sarcasm and metaphors that allow Portia’s character to be deemed remarkable.

Firstly, it’s important to recognize the unanticipated and abrupt transition done by Shakespeare to commence with the scene. The sudden shift from the tense and traumatic atmosphere of Antonio in the first scene, to a scene, nearly polar opposite, stationed at a completely different venue is not merely a coincidence. It can be envisaged as how Shakespeare never tries to over exhaust the audience with a convolutedly stressful scene , he glides on to a setting that lightens the mood of the audience so that the audience can appreciate the characters and the story more. Subsequently the character delineation of Portia also warrants admiration for her character.

“ By my troth…is aweary of this great word.” The phrase by Portia that breaks open the scene is said to be an echo of the expression “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad” by Antonio, said in scene one. It suggests how both the protagonists are engulfed in a bubble of troubles, however unlike the nameless and unidentified misery Antonio tackles; Portia is facing something more understandable and relatable. Moreover, it also foreshadows how Antonio and Portia might symbolize similar roles in which they are to Bassanio. However the contrasts in Antonio and Portia’s behaviors may also connote the dissimilar treatment Bassanio might exhibit in between them, thus suggesting how Bassanio will have to abandon Antonio when he falls in love with Portia. Furthermore, the adjective ‘little‘ to describe Portia’s figure, connotes the petit and elegant structure of the Heroine. Alternatively, as this ‘little’ Portia is compared with the giganticness of the globe, it connotes the magnitude of problems Portia has to face. Likewise, the word “ aweary” is suggestive of the fact that how after the demise of her father, the much-treasured daughter will have to single-handedly face the realms of the real world. This can also mean that how the lives of women in the Elizabethan era was dependent on the men. Additionally, she comments on how she found it ‘easier’ to ‘teach’ a group of twenty, rather than being in the group to perform what was taught. This phrase familiarizes the audience with that Portia, though knew the rights and wrongs of life, but was uncomfortable inculcating those features. It could be extrapolated that how Portia’s royal character, restricted her to alter her beliefs or accommodate to newer ambiences. Finally, it also foreshadows the difficulty Portia would undergo while searching of devoted and affectionate husband. Thus, signaling the introduction of a new character in her life and as well as in the play. As one figures out different features of Portia’s character, the audience tends to like her personality even more. Also, the Casket theme that gradually untethers, throws more light on Portia’s predicament, and how her freedom was being confined by the amorphous and lifeless soul of her deceased father. These perceptions are enacted with the meticulous usage repetition, and polished dictions and contradictory expressions that elevate the character of Portia, and simultaneously describe the ambience in the scene that makes Portia’s plight more understandable.


“I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike” is delivered by Portia but, not only outlines her sentiments, and rather that of complete feminine society in the Elizabethan era. It provides a teeny window showcasing the eminent Casket theme. Her grief is a consequence of her nullified right or approval in choosing her soul mate. The repetition of the word “ Choose” amplifies the effect of her miserable plight. It suggests how her action and fates are similar to that of a puppet, but however unlike a living puppeteer her choices are forced upon by her dead father. Moreover, the intangible pangs of guilt of not disobeying the dying wishes of her presently perished father makes her dejected. The dependency on fate is something congruent in both[Antonio and Portia] the Protagonist’s lives’ and suggests how, later on the same reoccurring notion might dwell in to an integral theme in plot. With it, some are swiftly able to conjure the similar lives of women in the Elizabethan era. The system of forced and arranged marriages that are scarce in the Modern era is being expressed in the given paragraph. Alternatively, the usage of contradictory judgments such as “ chapels” and “ churches “, “poor men’s cottages and princes’ palaces” are successful in familiarizing the audience with the venue of the scene, and majorly the circumstance of the social condition in the town. It connotes that prejudice against women was omnipresent in that epoch. Lastly, the simultaneous usage of the word “living” and “dead” proclaimed by Portia allows the readers to imagine how her exultant and jubilant freedom that subsisted during her father’s watch was ironically now entirely routed after his demise and that she was forced espouse a man to regain that relative freedom. This shows how the society had declared the masculine gender superior, and how a women’s life would be unlivable with men. Therefore, as her miserable dilemma is intricately discovered, her significance in the scene and in the play appears vital and allows her character to be considered remarkable.

Moreover, what in reality distinguish her personality from the rest in the given scene are her crafted use of Witty sentences and potent use of efficaciously stated sarcasm coupled with well-developed metaphors. Portia, in effectively displays her opinions about the current generation whilst calling the youth “hare[s].” Further, she iterates how a rabbit’s perpetual hopping, elucidates on the fact of the human mind to be home to copious mischievous and impish actions and thoughts, that purposefully disregard worthwhile advises. However, she highlights how Portia didn’t belong from that share people. This can be conjured when Portia willingly agrees to abide by her fathers dying aspirations, and wishes to commence with the casket ceremony to allow her suitor to be selected on the grounds of chance over ‘choice.’ This is opposite to how other ladies might have responded and throws light on her extremely righteous and supremely treasurable character, who respected the thoughts of others/elders.

Furthermore, a fresh face of Portia unravels as she blatantly passes wickedly riotous comments on the suitors. Mocking the Neapolitan Price by humorously concluding “ for he soth nothing but talk of his horse” envisages how his superficial behavior was of utter disgust to her, and how his relentless bragging of nailing horseshoes, made her deliberately claim “his mother played false with a smith.” This is suggestive of the fact that Portia wasn’t interested in boastful and immodest personality, and how her personality differed from the bigheaded prince. Furthermore, Portia didn’t desire a husband of an accomplished husband with and a multiplex of varied personalities and qualities. She coveted merely for a ‘single’ honest personality with limited potentials, but with always lifted countenance. Such a judgment can be learnt when she brutally remarks “I had rather be married to a death’s-head with a bone in his mouth” and “I should marry twenty husbands”, where the former being compared to the Dull and dreary nature of County Palatine, and the latter to the supremely talented, but hollow and superficial disposition of “Monsieur le Bon.”

Lastly, she states how one’s ‘oddly’ attire and linguistically deficient personality, makes “Falconbridge” to also be deemed blemished with husbandly flaws. It is the first time Portia’s explanation may be considered redundant and superfluous, and that she was unknowingly foreshadowing the arrival of a personality perfectly fit for her (Bassanio). Lastly, this crass humor produced by Portia clearly makes is a point that Shakespeare was a feminist writer, who purposely wished to heighten the status of Women in the Elizabethan Era.

Thus, a vigorous and powerful character that unfurls of out Portia, as her personality seems to be an amalgam of self-respect, affection and wit. Therefore, with the usage of metaphorical and witty sentences, repetition, foreshadowing, unmatched sarcasm, the character of Portia comes out to be remarkable.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s