Why did the prince of Arragon choose the silver casket in The Merchant of Venice?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act Two, Scene 9, the Prince of Arragon arrives at Belmont and tries his luck choosing the right casket. After taking an oath to not tell anyone which casket he chooses and agreeing to never propose to anyone for the remainder of his life if he picks the wrong box, the prince reads the inscription on the golden casket. The inscription reads, "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire" (Shakespeare, 2.9.24-25). The Prince of Arragon makes the correct choice by not opening the golden casket. He mentions that many people would probably choose the golden casket simply because it is flashy and attractive. The prince says,

"I will not jump with common spirits And rank me with the barbarous multitudes" (Shakespeare, 2.9.32-33).

The Prince of Arragon then reads the inscription on the silver casket, which says, "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves" (Shakespeare, 2.9.36-37). The prince arrogantly believes that he deserves the great privilege of winning Portia's companionship and incorrectly chooses the third casket. However, inside the silver casket is a portrait of a "blinking idiot" holding a letter that ridicules the prince for making the incorrect choice.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, the prince of Aragon chooses the silver casket. It is the one which is labeled 'Choose me and get what you deseerve.' Due to his huge ego and over-inflated opinions of himself, he probably thinks that he will get great things becuase of this - all the ordinary superficial things that most humans want such as money, power, luxury and the attentions that come with that. The phrase is very philosophical and clever when you look at it closely. It does Not say that it will deliver all these things, only that if you deserve good things (which may in any event turn out to be spiritual virtues anyway) you will get them. Think about what a character might get if their weak self-serving character deserves little.

iamng23 | Student

perhaps the prince of arragon thought himself to be much superior than the common foolish multitude whose something based on the superficial concepts by the outward show and not by analyzing the actual depth of the matter. He thinks himself the absolute deserving of portia and thus chooses the silver casket

studytech123 | Student
The prince of Araggon thought of himself superior to others and he thought that by choosing the gold casket which said, " Who chooseth me, shall get what many men desire" he would be considered one of the other ordinary men in the world. He chose the silver casket as it said that " Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves" He thought that he was superior to others and that he deserved her in every single way.

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