Character Sketch of Portia in Merchant of Venice

Portia Merchant of Venice | Merchant of Venice Characters Portia

Character Sketch of Portia in Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers


  • an embodiment of an ideal woman
  • essentially feminine, yet bold and capable
  • courteous and polite
  • shy and modest
  • bold and capable
  • her brilliant humour and wit
  • a strong person

Portia – An Ideal Woman
Portia seems to be an embodiment of an ideal woman. She has all the conceivable qualities in her—good looks, beauty, charm, grace, intelligence, humility, wit, humour, sensitivity, kind-heartedness, generous nature, and so on. At the same time she has her feminine weaknesses which come out at times—but these weaknesses make her human.

Portia – Essentially Feminine
Portia’s true and womanly nature appears in the finest colours in Act III. Here she gives up the style of fashionable Elizabethan court speech and declares her love for Bassanio in a shy, modest and womanly manner. In this act, she reveals her finest feelings. for Bassanio and true depths of her nature.

Portia – Bold and Capable
When the news of the danger to her husband’s friend, Antonio, arrives from Venice, she at once takes the charge of the situation. Bassanio is stunned by the news but she begins to plan to face the situation. She sends Bassanio away to Venice with a few crisp, business-like instructions and a generous supply of money. She thinks of a daring plan on the spur of the moment. She thinks of Doctor Bellario, and procures a doctor’s gown and appears in the court as a lawyer to save the life of Antonio. She pleads the case brilliantly and intelligently and saves Antonio from the jaws of death. Her speech on ‘the quality of mercy’ will be remembered for generations to come. This shows that she is intensely capable, bold and resourceful. She is more capable in crisis than any other man. She is practical and pragmatic towards the situation. By portraying Portia in brilliant colours, Shakespeare gives testimony to the position and character of women in human life. She is presented as a faithful and wise counsellor.

Portia – Humorous and Witty
Portia acts like a normal human being. She observes the follies of others and makes humorous and witty remarks. She loves lightheartedness and humour in life. The concluding episode of the rings shows Portia’s human character. She reflects her love for a good practical joke. She knows that Bassanio had given her a ring, but she asks Bassanio.
“What ring gave you, my lord ?
Not that, I hope, which you received of me.”
She enjoys the discomfiture of Bassanio who is forced to say,
“I would deny it, but you see my finger hath not the ring upon it : it is gone”.
Thus, she enjoys the amusing situation.

Portia – A Strong Person
It is her strength, intelligence and commonsense that make her win the battle in the court. She displays courage, confidence and strength in her speeches in the court. Thus, it is the varied and rich nature of her that appeals to the readers. When she loves, it is with all her heart, when she gives herself to Bassanio, it is with complete surrender, when she goes in for a practical joke, it is with full zest.

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