A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 7

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

proxy-image
Michael Radford directed The Merchant of Venice (2004), with David Harewood as the Prince of Morocco

In this Act II, Scene 7 of The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has the Prince of Morocco, one of Portia’s many suitors, guess which of the three boxes (gold, silver, lead) contains her portrait. “The one of them contains my picture, Prince,” Portia tells him. “If you choose that, then I am yours withal.”

On the gold box are inscribed the words: “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” Placing his worth as high as that of Portia’s, he chooses the gold box and finds within this note written by her father:

All that glisters is not gold—
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled
Fare you well. Your suit is cold—

*glisters is the 17th c. synonym of glitters

Don't be shy! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s