“The Merchant of Venice” is a Shakespearean play based on the themes
of friendship, racial prejudice, deceptive appearances and love, of
which the most romantic is the love between Portia and Bassanio. In
contrast, the other two couples - Lorenzo and Jessica, Gratiano and
Nerissa – exhibit playful or down-to-earth love.
Portia is as faultless as one could imagine. She is blessed with
beauty, heavenly qualities surpassing all other women on Earth and
moreover “richly left”. Portia’s image is consistent as a goddess, an
angel. However, she is by no means the “unlessoned girl, unschooled,
unpractised” which she claims to be, but is on the contrary
“sophisticated, educated and intelligent”. Throughout the play, she
exhibits wit, resourcefulness, complete love for Bassanio and
generosity towards friends. Her prejudice towards Jews and foreigners
is probably one of the only blemish to her otherwise perfect
Compared to Portia, Bassanio is only a normal citizen in Venice who
has “disabled mine estate/by something showing a more swelling port”.
However, his dashing and daring character complements his romantic
role as a chivalrous suitor to the fair Portia. He is a spendthrift
that as soon as he gets the money he needs, he immediately organises
expensive evening’s entertainment for himself and his friends. His
lavishness and carefree personality is also evident from the way he
agrees to help Gratiano (“You have obtained it”), without knowing what
the favour is. However, to view him as shallow is probably harsh,
unfair and also inappropriate as it was not...
... middle of paper ...
...’s motive for wooing
Portia is to pay off his debts referring the trip to Belmont to woo
Portia as a “secret pilgrimage”, thus making Portia into a goddess.
Bassanio’s loyalty and responsibility is once again emphasised in the
trial scene, where he refuses to give away his wedding ring. He is
also quick to ask for Portia’s forgiveness when he returned to Belmont
In conclusion, Portia and Bassanio is a compatible couple, sharing
many similar qualities – intelligence, affectionate, sensitive, loyal,
generous, and devoted to each other. Their relationship typifies ideal
love and involves self-sacrificing, sharing, humility and devotion.
Despite her submissive and humble attitude towards Bassanio, Portia
proves to be a little more superior of the two and is capable of being
a strong adversary to her foe.
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