This sample essay on Why Did Prince Of Arragon Choose The Silver Casket reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
Shakespeare reveals prejudice of a character with dark complexion with the very first line when the Prince of Morocco entered, “Mislike me not for my complexion. ” We find a contrast amongst the two suitors with the colour of their skin. The Prince of Morocco was dark and the Prince of Arragon was fair.
Morocco is both more elaborate and direct than Prince of Arragon and this is shown in the line – “How shall I know if I choose the right casket”. This line shows us that Morocco was well concerned, interested and very curious to win Portia and for this he even asked several questions in order to clear his doubts before choosing the casket.
We also see that Morocco prays to god in times of emergency – (as he took an oath never to get married again) – “Some God direct my judgement”.
Shakespeare reveals the character of Morocco as a confident, self conscious and strong person who is very proud of his colour. The Prince of Morocco meets Portia and tells her that he is often considered very handsome on account of his black skin. He didn’t want to be judged by his complexion because he was dark and explains that all the people from Morocco were like that.
In those times however a dark person was considered to be the devils accomplice and he didn’t want to be misjudged.
The Prince of Arragon didn’t defend himself in any way even though he was Spanish, as at that time England and Spain were constant enemies and even being an adversary he didn’t mention anything. Prince of Morocco’s boastful and flattery nature is seen in the lines, “I would not change this hue except to steal your thoughts my gentle queen” and “the best regarded virgins of our clime have lov’d it too”.
This clearly tells us that he is a very haughty and egotistic person. His achievements have been described through his boastfulness especially seen in the lines “To try my fortune. By this scimitar – that slew the Sophy and a Persian prince”. He portrays to be a figure of great dignity, brave and noble even though he may be regarded as rather arrogant to when he uses the occasion in order to declaim his achievements at Portia. He thinks he is very intellectual and has very “heroic” qualities, which are flawless to marry Portia.
He is also very vainglorious and proud and always trying to impress Portia by honorable and devoted marks like, “Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey To win thee, lady”. The prince tries to act courageous and tries to influence Portia by his intentions. The Prince of Arragon didn’t try to boast about himself but agreed to try his luck at the caskets without further ado. The Prince of Arragon, as his name suggests, is arrogant and proud like the Prince of Morocco.
He considered himself to be superior to others as he said, “How much low peasantry would then be glean’d from the true seed of honour! He is revealed to be egocentric and narcissistic as he rejects the lead casket immediately saying, “You shall look fairer, ere. I give or hazard. ” He felt that lead should look more attractive if anyone must take a risk for it. Both the Princes judged through ‘outward appearances’ as Arragon said “base lead” and Morocco said “dull lead” Both of them made quick rejecting decision for lead. For Morocco lead was threatening and not worth risking anything for.
He is attracted by appearances and was adamant not to choose the lead casket as he said, “Must give! For what? For lead? Hazard for lead? ” “A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross. ” This line tells us that he doesn’t choose the lead casket and dismisses this subject quickly as he thinks lead has no value, it is a wastage of time and earning jeopardy if thinking or choosing for lead. By this phrase we also come to know that the prince can be imperious and patronizing when the lead topic is discussed. The Prince of Arragon rejects lead because of the ominous warning, “who chooseth me shall must give and hazard all he hath”.
The Prince of Morocco took his time to choose the right casket so as to not making rash decisions as he said, “I will survey th’ inscriptions back again. ” He also scrutinizes the inscriptions again and again. But when he came to woo her, he wanted to go to the caskets immediately as he was desperately waiting to win Portia’s hand. But unlike Morocco, Arragon was quick in making judgements. He went astray from the right path as from knowing that appearances are often deceptive he chose with a “fond eye”. Morocco did not approve of the word ‘deserve’ in the inscription of the silver casket – “who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves”.
He said that he knew that he deserved Portia as he said, “I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes, in graces, and in qualities of breeding; but more than these, in love I do deserve. ” He didn’t want himself to be “stray’d no further” by the inscription of the silver casket as he didn’t want to lose Portia. He therefore, spurns the silver, which he feels is too base a metal to hold such a beautiful woman as Portia. He thinks there is a very likely possibility in losing his “lady” if he chooses the silver casket.
He considers himself to be a suitable match for Portia because he is wealthy, he has fine quality, he belongs to a noble family and he has a high position in society. He also tries to boast about his courage in the line – ” to prove whose blood is redder, his or mine “. Even after all this effort to win Portia’s admiration he is deceived by appearances when it comes to choosing the caskets. His choice shows that how he judges by outward appearance, not considering how the contents of the gold casket might not be indicative of its appearance.
There is dramatic irony when he says, “graved in gold” because in the light of the consequences of Morocco’s eventual wrong choice he finds that the casket is a grave for it contains a skull. Likely, the Prince of Arragon didn’t approve of the word ‘many’ in the golden casket. He felt the word ‘many’ would mean the stupid majority of ordinary people who judge simply by appearances, accepting what their foolish eyes tell them instead of trying to see and understand what lies beneath and thinks that gold refers to the foolish populace.
He continued saying that people base their judgement and consequent actions on mere surface impressions. The Prince of Arragon uses a very suitable simile to prove his point when he compares them to ‘the martlet’ (swift) that ‘builds’ its nest ‘on the outward wall’ of the building where it may get damaged or destroyed instead of choosing a more sheltered place. Later we realise that this speech is an example of dramatic irony because he too will choose with a “fond eye”. The Prince of Arragon is a snob smugly self-satisfied in his dismissal of the “barbarous multitudes. ”
Both of the suitors were over-confident. According to the Prince of Arragon, there are many suitors who consider themselves honourable and deserving but they do not really deserve the “stamp of merit. ” Arragon clearly believes and said that he was born with the necessary merit to win Portia, and in his view merit and honour only belong to a highly selected few people such as himself. Since he considered himself to be worthy of Portia, he chooses the silver casket and that too an order to a servant to perform the task of actually unlocking the casket, to humble a thing for Arragon to do himself.
He was shown to be confident when he said, “Bring me the fairest creature northward born. ” All that he boasted was to show that he is quite capable of achieving anything he desires. His over-confidence is apparent when he says, “deliver me the key” and chooses the silver casket very sure that Portia’s portrait was within. He thinks that he is more than worthy enough for Portia and this attitude of his, troops his downfall for it is not the silver casket that holds Portia’s picture. Shakespeare has given a lengthy speech on each suitor on the casket they were going to choose.
The Princes speak in blank verse through their presence, which only changes after both of them reading their scroll. Their reaction after opening the casket is similar as the gold casket contains “a carrion Death, within whose empty eye there is a written scroll” and the silver casket contains “the portrait of a blinking idiot, presenting” him “a schedule. ” After the suitor reads the scroll or the schedule, his language starts to be similar with the contents read on as it becomes into a poetic form. Arragon is uncharacteristically struck-dumb by what he finds, “a blinking idiot.
To late he realises that he really doesn’t deserve anything better than a fool’s head. This is symbolic, for he is an old man and hence is an idiot for thinking himself deserving of a young woman. Whereas Morocco’s shocking expression, “Oh! Hell! ” is not a mere expression of extreme annoyance but Morocco knew that if he had to keep the oath, he had to remain unmarried for the rest of his whole life, he faces a kind of living hell, deprived of the woman of his choice and also because he is a man not use to failing. Both of the princes were courteous, affable gentlemen who respected Portia.
The Prince of Morocco is brought out to be a sole loser, as his pride disappears when he leaves saying, “I have too griev’d a heart to take a tedious leave, thus losers part. ” When he finds his hopes are dead, he “welcomes frost” and tries to keep up a brave and dignified appearance and we can see a contrast in the manner of his departure to the fanfare of his arrival. The departure of Arragon is similar as he said, “Still more fool I appear by the time I linger here. ” He had come to woo “with one fool’s head but” had to “go away with two. ”
After reading, I felt sympathy for both the suitors who had come to try their fortune and unfortunately lost. Amongst both the characters, I liked Morocco more because in the way of departure it felt to me that he had come with a true heart for Portia’s love. I have more sympathy with him as he cannot marry any other woman and will have a life of a living hell as in later life he cannot share his happiness and sorrows with anyone. All the hopes he had come with were destroyed as everyone in his homeland was desperately waiting for their queen as Portia.