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The Merchant of Venice

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Modern Text

Flourish cornets Enter PORTIA with the Prince of MOROCCO, and both their trains
Trumpets play. PORTIA enters with the prince of MOROCCO and both their entourages.


PORTIA
(to servant) Go draw aside the curtains and discover
The several caskets to this noble prince.—
PORTIA
(to servant) Go open the curtains and show the different boxes to the prince.
A curtain is drawn showing a gold, silver, and lead casket
A curtain is drawn revealing showing three caskets: one gold, one silver, and one lead.
(to MOROCCO) Now make your choice.
(to MOROCCO) Now make your choice.

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MOROCCO
The first, of gold, who this inscription bears:
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.”
The second, silver, which this promise carries:
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.”
This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt:
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
How shall I know if I do choose the right?
MOROCCO
The first one, the gold one, has an inscription that says, “He who chooses me will get what many men want.” The second one, the silver one, says, “He who chooses me will get what he deserves.” And this third one is made of dull lead. It has a blunt warning that says, “He who chooses me must give and risk all he has.” How will I know if I chose the right one?


PORTIA
The one of them contains my picture, Prince.
If you choose that, then I am yours withal.
PORTIA
One of them contains my picture. If you choose that one, I’m yours, along with the picture.


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MOROCCO
Some god direct my judgment! Let me see.
I will survey th' inscriptions back again.
What says this leaden casket?
“Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.”
Must give—for what? For lead? Hazard for lead?
This casket threatens. Men that hazard all
Do it in hope of fair advantages.
A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross.
I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead.
What says the silver with her virgin hue?
MOROCCO
I wish some god could help me choose! Let me see. I’ll look over the inscriptions again. What does the lead box say? “He who chooses me must give and risk all he has.” Must give everything—for what? For lead? Risk everything for lead? This box is too threatening. Men who risk everything hope to make profits. A golden mind doesn’t bend down to choose something worthless. So I won’t give or risk anything for lead. What does the silver one say?

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