What line of reasoning is followed by the Prince of Arragon in making his choice of casket in the play The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare?
In Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merchant of Venice’, the Prince of Arragon showed his lack of wisdom and self-contradictory nature by his reasoning in choosing the right casket to win Portia’s hand. At first he took no time to dismiss the lead casket as it read “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” His reasoning was —
You shall look fairer ere I give or hazard.
(You should look more attractive before I give of risk anything.)
Arragon was quite arrogant and foolish here to think himself more deserving than a common lead box. He actually judged it by the outward appearance of the casket.
He then moved to the gold casket and read the inscription there. He thought that “what many men desire” may indicate to the foolishness of most people to run after something judging by its outer appearance. And so he decided to go past it. Actually he showed some wisdom here not to fall prey of the trap of gold. But it shows a sharp contrast to his earlier logic regarding the lead box.
However he read the writing on the silver casket and was convinced by the words “as much as he deserves”. He always thought highly of himself and he felt that he deserved the best in the world. He then went on to think a bit longer about how this world would have been if everyone got only what one deserved. Then many noblemen would have been peasants and many poor people would be kings according to their merit and not by corruption. But as he thought, he deserved the very best, he went on to open the silver box and failed. Here again he showed his foolishness in thinking himself the best in the world.