Men And Women In Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice

1038 Words5 Pages
The Elizabethan Era was a time of prosperity, and with came new ideas and writing. Shakespeare embodies this change with his play The Merchant of Venice wherein he discusses the dynamics between men and women, and creates two powerful female characters. The play revolves around one main conflict: Antonio’s bond with the vengeful Shylock. In a rare series of events, the two women discover a solution to Antonio’s dilemma in a powerful male-dominated Venice. They too, find a way to hold an abundance of power themselves. Portia and Nerissa derive their power of influence from their own virtue, through understanding what motivates men, and finally by masking themselves as men. Women, especially those hailing from Belmont, embody virtue and use it as a source of power. To have any sort of status, Portia must have a certain level of wealth and reputation. This wealth, although originally material, she expouses more in the virtue she hold among all other people in the play. Shakespeare depicts this through winning her hand through the caskets. When Antonio selects the right casket he receives a letter stating: “you that choose not by the view / Chance as fair and choose as true. / Since this fortune falls to you / … hold your fortune for your bliss” (III.ii 134-139). Shakespeare’s uses fortune to describe Portia and the new ‘wealth’ that Bassiano claims. Fortune implies obtaining wealth, but in Belmont a virtuous woman, and not material gain, is wealth. This equates virtue with
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