Symbolism of the Ring in "The Merchant of Venice"

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"The Merchant of Venice" is a play by William Shakespeare that combines comedy, romance and drama into one literary work. The main protagonist is Antonio, a merchant in Venice, who takes out a loan for his friend Bassanio. Bassanio wants to use the money to impress his wealthy love interest, Portia. Antonio agrees to give the Jewish lender Shylock a pound of his flesh if he can't repay the debt. Bassanio and Portia eventually wed, and she gives him a wedding ring that symbolizes more than love and commitment.

1 Power and Control

The wedding ring Portia gives Bassanio symbolizes power. She instructs him not to take it off for any reason. When Antonio is unable to pay Shylock back his debt, Portia tricks everyone by dressing up like a male lawyer. She craftily uses the law to keep Shylock from cutting off a pound of Antonio's flesh and steals Shylock's wealth, claiming he's an illegal immigrant. Portia also asks for her husband's ring as a token of appreciation for her attorney services. Later, she happily reveals to her husband her devious and successful plan. The ring symbolizes Portia's power and control, not only in civil matters but also in her marriage relationship.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.