OF THE BABY NAME PORTIA
Portia is one of William Shakespeare’s most enduring characters, as she appears in The Merchant of Venice, probably written 1596 and 1598. Portia has everything – she is rich, beautiful, intelligent and amusingly sarcastic. She also has the misfortune to be the heiress of a father who controls her from beyond the grave, having specified in his will that her suitors must pass almost impossible tasks in order to win her hand (and his wealth) in marriage. A dutiful daughter, Portia abides by his will, but this doesn’t stop her from looking for loopholes in the arrangement, all the while making snide comments about her hapless wooers. It is Bassanio, good friend of the Merchant of Venice, upon whom she has set her sights. We can’t help but wonder at her choice, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a woman of stellar character fell for a guy who doesn’t quite make the grade. Bassanio, you’ll excuse us, seems to like spend most of his free time with the Merchant, Antonio, but he is certainly not above vying for Portia’s hand in light of her great wealth. Portia rigs the deal and marries Bassanio, so it comes as no surprise that she is able to find a technicality in the law that will allow her (disguised as a male legal expert, of course) to find an out for Antonio from Shylock’s contracted “pound of flesh”. Her “Quality of Mercy” speech is one of the most famous in all literature. The saving of Antonio, methinks, makes Bassanio, his BFF, just a little too happy and grateful. But if Portia is okay with this guy, who are we to complain? May they live happily ever after.
Portia is the wife of the assassin, Brutus, in William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Julius Caesar, believed to have been written in 1599. She is a lovely noblewoman, the daughter of Cato, devoted to her husband and used to being his partner and confidante. Brutus is in the midst of a maelstrom of emotions as he ponders the effect upon the state of Caesar’s seeming ambition to be a dictator. Brutus is a close and true friend to Caesar, but he is also a patriotic protector of the rights of the republic against a sovereign ruler, and he is sorely tried by this predicament. Portia urges him to confide in her, to unburden himself and allow her to alleviate his troubles. She is also not a little insulted that her husband would keep something secret from her, and accuses him of treating her more like a harlot than a wife. This lady means business – she proclaims herself to be, yes, just a woman, but “a woman well-reputed”; she is no little wallflower – she stabs herself in the thigh to prove her strength to him. His reply is commendable: “Render me worthy of this noble wife!” This noble wife goes on to an even more ghastly suicide, by eating burning coals, in her grief over the ascension of Octavius and Antony. A woman well-reputed, indeed.
The Merchant of Venice; Julius Caesar