Why does Bassanio select the lead casket in The Merchant of Venice?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The reason that Bassanio selects this casket over the gold one and the silver one is because he thinks that you cannot judge a book by its cover, essentially.

He thinks that, these days, people are too concerned with appearances.  They think that what looks good really is good.  But Bassanio is not fooled.  He thinks that it must be the lead one because no one would really expect that.

He says that both the gold one and the silver one look too valuable.  They are just tricks.

Because he figures this out correctly, he gets to be the one to marry Portia.

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

In thinking about the reasons Bassanio chooses the lead casket over the gold or silver one in The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare, it is also worth considering the qualities of lead. As well as being clever to work out the "trick element" of the test by using his rationality and common sense, Bassanio also shows how down to earth he is by picking something that has day to day value. For ordinary people, lead has useful attributes - it is heavy and very valuable in waterproofing and sealing roofs. we must also remember Shakespeare's using the association with death - it is used to line coffins!

higirl's profile pic

higirl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

bassanio has a different thinking than other suitor who came to choose the caskets.he thinks that we should not look at the outer appearence even though it attracts us you should look at the inner view and he is not fooled by it.lead is very dull & cheap and it is useful to us in many ways.in the lead casket it was writen "he who chooses me must hazard everything he hath' basannio was ready to hazard everything for portia and he chooses the lead the right one and wins her as his wife

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