The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

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How did the Prince of Morocco interpret the silver casket's inscription?

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In act 2, scene 7 of The Merchant of Venice, the Prince of Morocco examines all three caskets and shares his analysis of each inscription. When considering the inscription on the silver casket which reads "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves," the Prince of Morocco stops to make sure he understands it right.

The Prince of Morocco considers just what he might deserve. The inscription sends him into a brief moment of self-reflection. Does he have a reputation warranting trust? He concludes that he does. Does he deserve Portia? At first, he is not sure but then decides that to think he does not deserve Portia would be underestimating his own worth. After all, a prince must have self-confidence. It is clear that in spite of momentary self-doubt, the Prince holds himself in high esteem and feels that he is deserving of her based on the nobility of his birth, his wealth, and abilities. Most of all, he concludes that his ability to love makes him deserving of Portia.

It seems for a moment that the Prince of Morocco will choose the silver casket since he concluded that he does indeed deserve Portia's hand in marriage. However, he goes on to analyze the gold casket and concludes that that is the better choice.

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