Draw a comparison between the two female characters Portia and Jassica in William Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice”.
There are some traits of Portia’s and Jessica’s personality that are in sharp contrast with each other —
1) Jessica was not loyal to her father. She was unfaithful to her religion too. She not only eloped with a Christian but also robbed her father of his money, jewels and gold including a diamond costing 2000 ducats and a turquoise which was the memento of her father’s courtship and of her mother.
On the other hand, Portia remains loyal to her father even after his death. Though she feels that her freedom of choosing a husband is restricted by her father’s will, she still obeys her father’s will.
2) Jessica is not Afraid or ashamed of breaking her father’s trust on her. But Portia is very hesitant to break her oath to her father by helping Bassanio in choosing the right casket.
3) Jessica shows her embarrassment on her boy’s disguise while eloping with Lorenzo but Portia talks of her plan to dress like a boy with excitement, i.e., she is not at all shy.
4) Jessica’s father failed to give her fatherly love and affection and has made his house a hell for her while Portia’s father was much concerned for her future and devised a lottery of caskets to select a life partner who will truly love her.
Hope this helps…. 🙂
Jessica was not a good daughter. She broke her father’s trust. She ran with a Christian (Lorenzo) knowing that his father, Shylock hated the Christians. She also stole her father’s ducats and jewellery.
On the contrary, Portia is a true daughter. Even though her father is dead, she does not break her father’s will. She is ready to sacrifice her life by marrying to any person who chooses the right casket. She loved Bassanio but yet she did not tell Bassanio which was the right casket although she gave him some hints.
Jessica shows herself as a shrewd and prudent lady, by betraying her father Shylock. Shylock was a Jew, but Jessica eloped with a Christian (Lorenzo) in spite of knowing that her father hated the Christians. She didn’t even think about her father’s emotions. He loved her daughter and cared about her, but she regarded Shylock as a devil.
On the other hand, Portia was a kind and gentle girl. She highly respected her father, though he was dead. Her father set up a will where a person who chose the right casket (which contained a portrait of Portia) would marry her. Portia was so devoted to her father that she decided to sacrifice her life by marrying the person who chose the right casket even if she didn’t like him.
Here lies the main difference between Portia and Jessica.
Jessica is the opposite of Portia. She lacks the modesty of Portia in her expression of love for Lorenzo. She is bold and rash in her actions. Jessica is disloyal to her father and cheats him by eloping with Lorenzo and taking her father’s earnings with her. She is quite a contrast to Portia who respects her dead father’s will and married according to her wishes. Jessica proves to be vain and extravagant in spending her father’s money. She even gives away her mother’s ring in exchange for a monkey. Her action is quite heartless. Portia on the other hand spends her father’s money wisely and for the good of others.