Vortia: A Devoted Daughter?

From Portia’s conversation with Nerissa in Act I, ii, we can infer that actually at first Portia has fears if the wrong man will choose the right casket. She feels that the will of her dead father is not logic as she can neither choose whom she wants to marry nor refuse the one she dislikes as her will is checked by the will of her dead father.

But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me
a husband. O me, the word “choose”! I may neither
choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike; so
is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of
a dead father. (Act I, ii, lines: 19-22)

However, Nerrisa, assures her that her father was always pious so that lottery which he has planned in the three caskets of gold, silver, and lead, in which the one who chooses his meaning correctly will win Portia, will never be chosen correctly except by the person who truly loves Nerrisa.

From the above short description, it is right that Portia, as a devoted daughter, dares not to betray terms imposed by her dead father.

Definitely, for such a beautiful, noble, and intelligent character as Portia, we find her dead father’s will of the caskets as a choice of husband for her, is truly heartless. What would have happened to Portia if the vain, egoistic suitor had chosen correctly? Portia would have been stuck with a vain and arrogant husband, incapable of her love. Therefore, the readers feel a tremendous relief as they failed to choose correctly.

However, Portia’s father was correct on one count, for despite all Portia’s intelligence, she does fall for Bassanio’s good looks, and fails to detect the playboy and the fortune hunter in him.

For one thing, it is Shakespeare’s brilliance to raise the dramatic effect in the lottery of the caskets in which Bassanio’s choice of the casket is of crucial importance in the play. Antonio has already lost his fortune and is bankrupt. If Bassanio were to choose incorrectly, the play would not be a romantic comedy, for Portia’s and Bassanio’s love would have been lost too. Moreover Antonio would have to lose his life.


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