Portia (Merchant of Venice)

Portia (Merchant of Venice)

Portia is the heroine of William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice". A rich, beautiful, very intelligent heiress, she is bound by the lottery set forth in her father's will, which gives potential suitors the chance to choose between three caskets consisting of gold, silver and lead. If they choose the right casket they win Portia's hand in marriage. Portia favours Bassanio, but is not allowed to give him any clues to assist in his choice. Later in the play, she disguises herself as a man, then assumes the role of a judge whereby she saves the life of Bassanio's friend, Antonio, in court. She disguises herself as Balthasar, a young doctor of law.

Portia on the outside is one of the most prominent of Shakespeare's heroines in his mature romantic comedies. She is beautiful, gracious, rich, intelligent, quick witted and with high standards in men. As well, she obeys her father's will while having a determination to obtain Bassanio while being tactful to the Princes of Morocco and Arragon who unsuccessfully seek her hand. In the court scenes, Portia finds a technicality in the bond, thereby outwitting Shylock and saving Antonio's life when everyone else fails. It is Portia who delivers one of the most famous speeches in "The Merchant of Venice":

:"The quality of mercy is not strain'd.":"It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven":"Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:":"It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."

The strength of Portia as a role has made it attractive to many notable actresses. Frances Abington, Sarah Siddons and Elizabeth Whitlock all played the role in the 18th century when actresses first started appearing on stage. More recently, the role has been played in the cinema and on television by a number of notable actresses such as Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Sybil Thorndike and Joan Plowright.


The New England School of Law was originally known as the Portia Law School when it was established in 1908 as a women only law school, and was known by that name until 1969. In his 'Rumpole' novels (filmed for the ITV series),author John Mortimer has Rumpole call Phillida Erskine-Brown (née Trant) the "Portia of our Chambers". Despite Portia's lack of formal legal training her ingenuity is of the variety exhibited by what is known as a Philadelphia lawyer (i.e., a lawyer who prevails on technicalities rather than the legal merits of his argument). [If Portia had made an argument on the merits of Shylock's claim she would have argued that the contract was invalid for some reason or simply unconscionable. By asserting the contract's validity and strictly enforcing it against Shylock she is exploiting his failure to include in the bond what lawyers call a further assurances provision, which would enable Shylock to shed blood as a natural byproduct of removing flesh.]

In 1986, a moon of Uranus was named after Portia (see Uranus' natural satellites). A version of the character has even appeared in the Mirror Universe of Star Trek.

Portia does not only have positive reviews of her nature. The famous Jewish writer Wolf Mankovitz dubbed her a "cold, snobbish little bitch" in a video he made about anti-Semitism against Shylock.


External links

* [http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-76,pageNum-46.html Cliffs Notes on the Merchant of Venice]
* [http://www.bardweb.net/plays/06.html Shakespeare Resource Centre on the Merchant of Venice]
* [http://us.imdb.com/Find?select=Characters&for=Portia&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&Go=Go Internet Movie Database search on character name Portia]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

  • Merchant of Venice — The 1. a comedy (c. 1596) by Shakespeare 2. Antonio, the merchant of the play who borrows money from SHYLOCK * * * a play by Shakespeare, thought to have been written in 1596. It is about a merchant, Antonio, who borrows money from a Jew called… …   Universalium

  • Merchant of Venice — Merchant of Ve|nice, The a play by William Shakespeare about a man called Antonio who borrows money from ↑Shylock. When Antonio cannot pay back the money, Shylock demands the right to cut out a pound of flesh from Antonio s body. A famous speech… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Merchant of Venice, The — a comedy (1596?) by Shakespeare. * * * ▪ work by Shakespeare       comedy in five acts by William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William), written about 1596–97 and printed in a quarto edition in 1600 from an authorial manuscript or copy of one.… …   Universalium

  • Antonio (Merchant of Venice) — Antonio is the title character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He is a middle aged bachelor and merchant by trade who has his financial interests tied up in overseas shipments when the play begins. He is loved and revered by all the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Merchant of Venice — This article is about Shakespeare s play. For other uses, see The Merchant of Venice (disambiguation). The Merchant of Venice Title page of the first quarto of Merchant of Venice (1600) …   Wikipedia

  • The Merchant of Venice — Le Marchand de Venise Le Marchand de Venise Couverture de la première édition in quarto (1600) Auteur William Shakespeare Genre Tragi comédie Pays d origi …   Wikipédia en Français

  • (the) Merchant of Venice — The Merchant of Venice [The Merchant of Venice] a play by Shakespeare, thought to have been written in 1596. It is about a ↑merchant, Antonio, who borrows money from a Jew called ↑Shylock to help Bassanio marry Portia. According to their… …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Merchant of Venice (2004 film) — Infobox Film name = The Merchant of Venice image size = 200px caption = director = Michael Radford producer = Cary Brokaw Michael Cowan writer = William Shakespeare (story and script), Michael Radford (screenplay) starring = Al Pacino Jeremy… …   Wikipedia

  • Portia — may refer to:*Portia (Merchant of Venice), a character in the play by William Shakespeare *Portia, a character in the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare *Portia Simpson Miller, the political leader of Jamaica s People s National Party and… …   Wikipedia

  • Portia (Shakespeare) — Portia is a name shared by two fictional heroines in plays by William Shakespeare: *Portia (Merchant of Venice) *Portia (Julius Caesar)#Classic …   Wikipedia

Поделиться ссылкой на выделенное

Прямая ссылка:
Нажмите правой клавишей мыши и выберите «Копировать ссылку»