Is Portia's father justified in devising the lottery of caskets for his daughter?

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Looking purely at results, the man Portia loves chooses the correct casket. He is wise enough to figure out her father’s message that “the outward shows be least themselves: / The world is still deceived with ornament.” Bassanio selects the leaden casket instead of the silver or gold, the one that reads “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” Nerissa points out that Portia’s “father was ever virtuous” and holy, rightly assuring Portia that this test would determine the right husband.

However, Portia does not feel that way: “I may neither choose whom I would nor refuse whom I dislike; so is the will of a living daughter curbed by the will of a dead father.” She acutely feels the powerlessness of being a woman. Also, the men who choose the wrong caskets give reasonable justifications. Morocco says that the gold is the right answer because the lovely Portia is “what many men desire.” Arragon likes the silver casket which says, “Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves,” because he likes the idea of justice.

In the context of the almost fairy-tale-like setting, Portia’s father was ultimately wise in this task, but practically speaking, the casket trial seems like a cruel, sexist, and uncertain way to decide on a husband.

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