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Ministry of Education.

Portia’s character

Think about how we learn about Portia's character: through her actions, through her language and through the minor characters like Lorenzo and Jessica. She displays some contradictory qualities in the play and so she is not a simplistic character to analyse. 

Look at the following words and match them to the quotations. Find some other quotations to support these descriptions of Portia.

Bassanio “In Belmont is a lady richly left 
And she is fair, and (fairer than that word),
Of wondrous virtues..” (Act 1 scene i)
Portia “By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.” (Act I scene ii)
Portia “I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curb’d by the will of a dead father.” (Act I scene ii)
Portia “Besides, the lott’ry of my destiny 
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing:” (Act II scene i)
Jessica “for the poor rude world 
Hath not her fellow.” (Act III scene v) (talking of Portia)
Portia “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” (Act IV scene i)
Portia “The Jew shall have all justice,- soft no haste!
He shall have nothing but the penalty.” (Act IV scene i)
Portia “we shall have old swearing 
That they did give the rings away to men:” (Act IV scene ii)
Portia “How far that little candle throws his beams! 
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” (Act V scene i)

Published on: 11 Dec 2010