Why has Portia Disguised Herself as a Male Lawyer?

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Jintu Borah


William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1600) is a remarkable tragi-comedy and
here Bassanio’s wife Portia is a remarkable character. Bassanio, the citizen of Venice,
loves Portia but his financial condition is not good. So, he approaches his friend Antonio.
Antonio takes loans from the cruel money lender Jew Shylock on a bond sign that he has
to return the money on a certain date and failure to repay the debt Shylock will cut a pound
of flesh from Antonio’s heart. Antonio agrees it. But due to the delay of his ships from
business he is unable to pay the debt. And Antonio demands the flesh according to the bond
Shylock is able to take the flesh from near Antonio’s heart. At that time Bassanio’s lover
Portia has rescued him in the disguise of a male advocate named Balthazar. She has an
assistant Nerissa (who is the lover of Bassanio’s friend Gratiano) who is also disguised
herself as a male assistant.
Till now the topic is discussed focusing on the ingenuity of Portia. But here it is trying to
focus on a different perspective. Why does Portia disguise herself as a male lawyer instead
of a female lawyer?
The research article is all about the above question and the probable various answers.

Article Details

How to Cite
J. Borah, “Why has Portia Disguised Herself as a Male Lawyer?”, DIP, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 08–11, Mar. 2024.