Portia, the most important, wealthy and intelligent figure in The Merchant of Venice, has been a great topic of discussion over the past few hundred years. Was she meant to be as important as we see her now? Why did Shakespeare make her such an important character in the play? One of the most important subjects to discussion has been if Portia was the central character to The Merchant of Venice. I believe this to be true. In this written essay I shall explore and analyze the different concepts to this paradox.
Portia is a wealthy, honorable and independent woman. Jessica and Nerissa are both dependent on someone else to live, whereas Portia is totally independent. From this we notice a main aspect to her centrality in the play; Portia chooses how to live her life. All of Portia's decisions are not mere play-writing on Shakespeare's behalf, but are subtle connections made with all of the goings-on in the play and with all of the characters. Because she chose to accept her father's wishes, she gave all the suitor's a chance at winning her hand in marriage. Her marriage to Bassanio linked her to him, which made her link with Bassanio's best friend, Antonio, and thus made her linked to his enemy, Shylock. Her generosity with allowing Jessica to stay in Belmont, linked her to Jessica and Lorenzo. And of course, her best friend and maid, Nerissa.
Although Portia is unquestionably the central female character in this play, it should also be noted that there are few women in The Merchant of Venice. To really authenticate her importance and greatness, we can compare her with Jessica, the daughter of the Jew, Shylock, the only other female character in the Merchant of Venice to raise questions and inquisitions. Their most distinguishable common point is their connection to their fathers. Portia and Jessica are both, without omission, opposite to each other. When it comes to their father's, Jessica is completely disobedient whereas Portia shows her sense of abidance....
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