Nerissa is Portia’s lady-in-waiting, verbal sparring partner, and friend. She is a merry wench.
Fully supportive of her mistress in all, she has high hopes that Bassanio will return to Belmont. She agrees to marry Gratiano on condition that Bassanio succeed in the task of the caskets. When this is accomplished, she is quite happy to do so. At his request, she takes care of Jessica when the latter arrives at Belmont. She joins Portia in dressing up as men to save Antonio’s life, playing the part of a law clerk. Hearing Gratiano swear that he’d prefer her dead if that might save Antonio’s life, she is not best pleased, and in return convinces Gratiano to give her (as the law clerk) the ring that she gave him (as herself) which he had sworn never to remove. On his return to Belmont, she rants at him upon hearing it, and manages to twist him around her little finger, swearing that she’s slept with the clerk before doing so with her husband.