restricted access Opportunistic Portia as Fortuna in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice

Renaissance emblematic iconography suggests Portia’s similarity not to Justice or Mercy but to Fortuna or Occasio, figures who are virtually interchangeable in the Renaissance and are both admirably suited to a play about risk taking. References to Portia as prize and to her toppling of Shylock and rescue of Antonio’s merchandise suggest her affinity with Fortuna. Far from being impartial in her judgment, Portia rewards and punishes according to her desire. As the Fortuna of Venice, Portia is the marketplace’s opportunistic entrepreneur who most successfully negotiates the worlds of commerce and love.