Portia and Ophelia: the Different Destiny of Two Fair Ladies

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Hamlet and Merchant of Venice are two of most well-known plays of Shakespeare. Among the shinning characters of the plays, two most attractive women characters are most popular, Ophelia and Portia. For a long time, people consider the tragedy of Ophelia is because the “crulty” of Hamlet(Schlegel, 1973) and the happy ending of Portia is due to her intelligence. While no matter it’s the crulty of Hamlet or it’s the intelligence of Portia, the results of the two fair ladies come up with a premise: they live in different environments. Many criticists don’t agree the “settings” of many Shakespeare’s plays because there are some mistakes in details(Tolstoy,1906). But there is a basic guess we can make that Ophelia is raised in the dark court of Denmark and Portia lives in bright Italy. The different environments give the two girls different backgrounds, social levels and conflicts to face. The different environments lead them to entirely different fates although they used to be so similar.

She is a noble girl, young and pretty, a character written by Shakespeare. She has a lover in trouble and she wants to help. With those discription, can an individual tell whether it’s Ophelia or Portia? No. But what leads them to tatally different destinies? I think, the root cause of the distinction is the different environments they are in. The main reason is that Ophelia and Portia live in different backgrounds. Ophelia receives a court education of Denmark. That gives her a nature of obedience. When she first appears in Hamlet, her brother, Laertes and their father Polonius admonish Ophelia against pursuing Hamlet, who they fear is not earnest about her. Then, Ophelia refuses Hamlet against her own will. Later, she talks to Hamlet under Polonius’s will, all being controlled by her father like a puppet. There is no action she does from her own will, she always obey to her father and brother. That makes her rather repressed. In contrast, Portia is rather independent for she...
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