In Act II, scene vii, of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the Prince of Morocco is ready to take the three-casket challenge. Morocco is attempting to win the hand of the beautiful Portia. Her father died and stipulated that only the right man for Portia would choose the correct casket. One is made of gold, another of silver, and the third, of lead. Each has an inscription on the top, and Portia has told Morocco that the correct cask has her picture in it. If he opens this one, he has won her hand.
Morocco looks at all three caskets, thinks about the inscription on each, what the casket is made of, and what Portia has told him. He tries to make a logical choice based upon what he sees and knows. He finally decides on the gold casket, but inside is a "death mask," which lets him know he has failed. Morocco is unhappy, but Portia is not at all concerned at his failure. This is the first of the three casket tests.