After reading this long, and at times, hard to follow play I believe that Portia is the protagonist of the play as the dramatic events and her heroism in pretending to be a lawyer and receiving the rings as payment all seem to revolve around her. Even the difficult issue where Antonio had to borrow the money from Shylock so his friend Bassanio could court the wealthy heiress Portia shows the importance of her character. I believe that not only is she the protagonist, but she is also the hero of this story as she successfully was able to win the court case for Antonio and in turn saved his life when she argued that Shylock had asked for a pound of flesh to be repaid but not any blood which would lead to his death. She says in Act IV Scene 1:Tarry a little; there is something else.This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh:’Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed. One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods. Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate. Unto the state of Venice. (Shakespeare) By doing this not only did she save Antonio’s life and won the case, she also played a fun prank on her friends by receiving the rings for payment of her legal fees and then revealing herself later as the lawyer.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. The Merchant of Venice. Harlow, Essex, England :Longman, 1994. Print.