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Reassessing Portia : the iconic potential of Shakespeare's woman lawyer.

Rackley, E. (2003) 'Reassessing Portia : the iconic potential of Shakespeare's woman lawyer.', Feminist legal studies., 11 (1). pp. 25-44.


This paper considers the adoption of Portia, the heroine of The Merchant of Venice, by feminist legal scholars as a metaphor for the woman lawyer. It suggests that Portia has both captured and is captured by the feminist legal scholar's imagination, becoming at once an idol, myth and icon. She is to some the personification of the woman lawyer's perceived difference, a mouthpiece for mercy and `the different voice' and to others, a sham or myth, her idolised reputation sullied, her `difference' rejected. Yet ultimately this constant and simultaneous idolisation and vilification of Portia threatens not only to silence and constrain conversations about the woman lawyer, but also to eclipse her promise and potential. Thus in the final section of the paper, Portia is established as an icon. Assuch her story, understood as a myth or fairytale, is seen to reveal previously unimagined possibilities for change, as an iconic understanding of Portia becomes a window through which feminist legal scholars can look onto alternative understandings of lawyering and adjudication.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Adjudication, Icon, Idol, Myth, Woman lawyer.
Full text:Full text not available from this repository.
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Record Created:27 Mar 2008
Last Modified:19 Mar 2010 16:15

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