Portia's Inconsistency

Discuss the Presentation of Portia’s Contradictory Character
Portia’s inconsistency in the play shows that she has many seemingly paradoxical identities. She is the dutiful daughter obeying her father’s will and is a victim of her father’s patriarchal authority and control. “I may neither choose who I would, nor refuse who I dislike, so is the will of a living daughter curb’d by the will of a dead father.” (Act 1 Scene 2)   She cannot choose her own husband because her father prepared a ‘test’ of three caskets, gold, silver and lead. “Therefore the lottery he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver, and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you…” (Act 1 Scene 2, Page 15, Lines 24-26)
She announces that she is an innocent, young woman, ‘unlessoned…unschooled, unpractised’ yet she is a hard-headed and calculating lawyer who is fully conversant with the tricks of the legal trade. “The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” (Act 4 scene 1) This was said as she tried to convince Shylock to withdraw his bond.
She is described as an innocent virgin, yet she knows all about the male sexuality. “I had it of him; pardon me, Bassanio, For by this ring the doctor lay with me.”(Act 5 Scene 1, Page 159, Lines 258-259)
In the opening scenes, Portia is being portrayed as a wealthy and independent woman who never gives herself willingly to her husband’s authority, she mocks all the suitors she finds unfavourable. “I am glad this parcel of wooers are so reasonable, for there is not one among them but I dote on his very absence; I pray God grant them a fair departure.” (Act 1 Scene 2, page 17, Lines 88-90)
Is Portia an innocent, virtuous heroine or a devious, manipulator of men and stands for female resistance in a male dominated world? She shows signs of manipulation in Act 4 Scene 1 where she ruthlessly destroys Shylock in his own game. “The Jew shall have all justice,- soft no haste! He shall have nothing but the...