Character Sketch of Nerissa in Merchant of Venice

Nerissa Merchant of Venice | Merchant of Venice Characters Nerissa

Character Sketch of Nerissa in Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers


  • Portia’s companion, not a maid
  • elegant and romantic like her mistress
  • witty and cheerful
  • a sincere, loving person
  • easily impresses others

Nerissa – Portia’s Companion
Nerissa is not a mere servant in Portia’s household. She gives the impression of a good companion or lady-in-waiting to Portia. She is not shown doing any menial, household job. She is always in good conversation with her mistress. It is Nerissa who persuades Portia to describe her various suitors.

Nerissa – Elegant and Romantic
She is a lady who has caught a little of Portia’s elegance and romance. She has so imitated Portia that she has acquired a similar outlook on life. When Portia decides to go to Venice as a lawyer, she chooses Nerissa to act as her clerk. In fact, Nerissa follows her mistress in everything—in falling in love, getting married and making similar remarks. She treats Gratiano in the way her mistress makes Bassanio the object of her frolic.

Nerissa – Witty and Cheerful
She is witty and cheerful. Perhaps it is her lively nature that has won her the confidence of her mistress and the love of Gratiano. Her witty remarks are often at par with those of Portia. When Portia, for example, says that she is “aweary of this great world” echoing the words of Antonio, Nerissa’s witty comment is appropriate.

“You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are : and yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing”.

Her squirmish with Gratiano in the ring episode is as witty and teasing as Portia’s is with Bassanio.

In short, she is a faithful companion, lively, witty and sententious. She easily impresses whoever comes close to her.

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