Jessica Jessica’s personality and characteristics Comparing Jessica to Portia
Jessica VS Portia • An important role as a female character in the male-dominated society in The Merchant of Venice. • Intelligent to have come up with a plan to disguise herself in order to achieve her purpose.
Jessica VS Portia (Examples) • Jessica disguised herself as a page in order to elope with Lorenzo • Similarly, Portia devised a plan to disguise herself as a learned Doctor to help save her husband’s best friend, Antonio.
Jessica VS Portia • Jessica is unfilial to abandon her father who is already marginalised by the society made up mostly of Christians • In contrast, Portia is different from Jessica in being a filial daughter who is very obedient and loyal to her father who is already dead. “I may neither choose who I / would nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living / daughter curbed by the will of a dead father.”
Jessica VS Portia • Jessica is deceptive in concealing her elopement from Shylock. • Portia deceived Shylock in the trial.
Jessica VS Portia (elaboration) Jessica is deceptive in concealing her elopement from Shylock. • Jessica appears at first to respect her father and follow his instructions as he tells her to “lock up [the] doors” and not to “clamber up to the casements then” after hearing about the masque. • However, the moment he steps out of the house, Jessica reveals her true intentions of eloping, “Farewell; and if my fortune be not crossed, / I have a father, you a daughter, lost.”
Jessica VS Portia (elaboration) Portia deceived Shylock in the trial. • Portia first disguised herself as a Doctor who is sufficiently learned of the law to save Antonio and through her disguise, picks out and finds a loophole in the bond that eventually brings about Shylock’s defeat.
Jessica VS Portia Courage • Jessica is courageous to leave Shylock out of her true love for Lorenzo. • Portia is courageous to help save Antonio.
Jessica VS Portia (Elaboration) Courage Jessica went against her father to elope with Lorenzo because she dearly loves Lorenzo when: • She is a Jew (a lowly status in Venice) and she risks being shamed from her elopement with a Christian. • In other words, she might face social execution and become an isolated person stuck in between the Jews and the Christians. • Yet, she still summons her courage to pursue what is dearest to her.
Jessica VS Portia (Elaboration) Courage Portia disguised herself as a lawyer to help save her husband’s closest friend, Antonio when: • She risked blowing her cover • She also faces social execution if discovered to be breaking the law, a serious offence • But she did it out of her love for her husband and nobility
Is Jessica justified? • Jessica, being Shylock’s daughter, must have enough of suffering from the Christians in the Venetian society where Jews are persecuted by the Christians. • In the play, we can see how Shylock is often discriminated against by the Jews. • Thus, Jessica still faces racial prejudice from other Christians due to her Jewish origins and religion. • Subjected to this racial prejudice, Jessica has so willingly left her father.
Conclusion • Jessica and Portia are similar in many aspects and are the leading female characters that are manipulative to a certain extent in this male-dominated society.