Notes on Merchant of Venice Themes

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Merchant of Venice Topic Tracking: Fortune

Act 1, Scene 2

Fortune 1: Portia is angry because she has no choice in who her husband will be. Because of her father's decision, she has to rely on luck to deliver a husband to her.

Act 1, Scene 3

Fortune 2: Shylock cautions Bassaanio before lending him money, reminding him that all of Antonio's money is tied up in shipping - a very dangerous trade, one counting more on luck than anything else.

Act 2, Scene 1

Fortune 3: The Moroccan Prince curses luck and fortune, complaining that it is no way to choose a husband - Luck has nothing to do with someone's worth, and should therefore never be used to determine something so important.

Fortune 4: After the Moroccan Prince chooses badly, Portia is relieved - she doesn't want to be married to someone who isn't white, and she's terrified at the prospect of being forced to because of nothing more than bad luck.

Act 2, Scene 9

Fortune 5: Again, Portia curses luck for forcing her to have no power over her own life. Nerissa assures reminds her that it's only natural - when it comes to matters of love, it's fate that takes the driver's seat. In Portia's case it's just a little more obvious than in most.

Act 3, Scene 1

Fortune 6: Shylock's prediction has come true, and luck did turn against Antonio, his ship crashing against rocks. Antonio's fortune has turned against him at the worst possible time.

Act 3 Scene 2

Fortune 7: Love is trumped by luck, here. Despite the love that Portia and Bassanio have for one another, they have no control over whether they will become husband and wife. They have to depend on fortune to bring them together, nothing else. It does, allowing them to begin their lives together as husband and wife.

Act 4, Scene 1

Fortune 8: Despite all of his planning, fortune turned against Shylock, ironically delivering onto him the exact fate that he had hoped to inflict Antonio with. All fortune turned against Shylock, stripping him of his wealth, and possibly his life, only returning them to him if he was willing to give up his religion.

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