Exactly who the title character of the "Merchant of Venice" is, is not exactly straightforward; an argument can be made that it is Shylock or Antonio. Either can be backed with evidence from the play to support the claim. The title may imply that the play belongs to one of these characters, but unlike most works in Shakespearian times, "Merchant of Venice" appears to have a female character that is the focal point in the play. Portia is a pivotal character in many of the major themes and is crucial to the plot and outcome of the play. Her beauty tied together with a future filled with her fathers wealth makes Portia one of the most desired bachelorettes in Venice/ Belmont. Unlike the majority of female characters in Shakespeare's works Portia is more than just a voice; she is a three-dimensional character that has an active involvement in the play as it unfolds. Portia is vital to the plot and plays crucial roles in key scenes of the play, all because she is not what you would expect a women to be in Shakespeare's productions; she is smart, cunning, and she knows what she wants.
To claim that "The Merchant of Venice" is run by Portia; a women, in Shakespearian times, in a play that seems to revolve around the difference in religious beliefs of two successful merchants in Venice seems a bit far fetched. Lets not forget that the conflict occurring between Shylock and Antonio roots from the other main conflict of the play; who gets to wed Portia. The only reason a deal is being struck between Shylock and Antonio is so that Antonio can lend ￼money to his best friend Bassanio in order for him to pursue Portia. There are two main conflicts to the play and as the play unfolds we see how it all revolves around Portia, she is the one everyone wants and she is the reason for the deal between the merchants. Without Portia there is no play. You can take away any other character and simply replace them with a random person because in the end it will all come down to Portia.