The Real Hero in the Merchant of Venice

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The Real Hero in the Merchant of Venice

By | December 2011
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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a hero as a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent, one who is endowed with great strength or ability, an illustrious warrior, a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities, one who shows great courage. I do not believe this definition is completely correct however because I think a hero can also be defined as someone who, in the face of adversity, does what is right. Defining what is the “right” thing to do can be very difficult however because everyone has a different moral compass and it is hard to determine whether what is right for one person is right for another.

The two characters that I sympathize with the most are Portia and Antonio because they have both been put in hard circumstances due to the action of others. Antonio, however, placed himself in a bad situation by agreeing to the terms of the contract with Shylock. He knew what he was getting into and never should have made that arrangement but I believe that his arrogance got the better of him. Portia was placed into a tough situation by her father, however she could have chosen to not follow the will and forfeit everything she owned. If placed in her situation I can’t honestly say what I would do. The choice to marry someone that you don’t get to chose or leave everything you have ever known and dishonor your family is a tough one.

Portia was very heroic the way she saved Antonio by dressing as a law clerk and Antonio was brave to not back down from his contract with Shylock and take his punishment ‘like a man’ but I don’t believe either of them are the hero of the story, at least not by my definition. The real hero in The Merchant of Venice was The Duke of Venice. Though he wanted to help Antonio he was bound by the law and he stuck to it. The law is the law and it should not be bent to help out Antonio because he knew what he was getting into when he signed the contract. It takes a very strong person to do what is right in...

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