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Merchant of Venice, D3r

Editorial note

Our goal in this edition is to make the text more accessible to a wider audience by modernizing the language in accordance with the Norton Shakespeare edition through the inclusion of contemporary spelling and letters. We also added line breaks and separated paragraphs to divide the speech to correspond with the three caskets referenced, as well as embodied the nature of the speech through natural pauses.

We paid particular attention to emphasizing the themes in the language Morocco uses in this speech through the use of color and bolding and italics. We used shades of green, gold, and silver/gray to explore transactional language and capitalistic ideals. Morocco uses these words when talking about the caskets themselves, but also when contemplating the value of himself in regard to what he can gain from this gamble. We bolded the word "deserve" to highlight Morocco's perception of himself and what he believes he is worthy of gaining, merely illustrating his sense of ego. This is reflected in the third paragraph; we increased the text size to illustrate how Morocco centers himself in what he deserves (as shown through the repetition of "I do... deserve").

We also used pink text to highlight themes of gender and objectification. Morocco often objectifies Portia, and would frequently refer to her based on her physical appearance and lust. He makes his decision of what casket to choose based on what he perceives her value as and what he thinks others would perceive her value as. He doesn't take into account her own humanity in his thought process.

Because Shakespeare's work is meant to be performed, we hyperlinked a clip from Michael Radford's contemporary version of Merchant In Venice (2004), which illustrates Morroco's persona, humor, body language, and relationship with Porsha.

In these efforts, we tried to make this text more accessible, in addition to illustrating themes of value, transactions, ego, objectification, and gender.

Pink: objectification and gender
Gold: gold casket
Silver: silver casket
Gray: lead casket
Green: value and transaction
Olive Green: trash and less valuable

Do it in hope of fair advantages. 1
A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross;2
I’ll then nor give nor hazard aught for lead

What says the silver with her virgin hue
“Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.” 
As much as he deserves—pause there, Morocco,-3
And weigh thy value with an even hand. 
If thou beest rated by thy estimation 4
Thou dost deserve enough, and yet enough5
May not extend so far as to the Lady
And yet to be afeared of my deserving 
Were but a weak disabling of myself. 
As much as I deserve—why, that’s the Lady

I do in birth deserve her, and in fortunes, 
In graces, and in qualities of breeding; 
But more than these, in love I do deserve
What if I strayed no farther but chose here?6

Let’s see once more this saying graved in gold: 7
“Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” 
Why, that’s the Lady! All the world desires her
From the four corners of the earth they come 
To kiss this shrine, this mortal breathing saint
The Hyrcanian deserts and the vasty wilds 
Of wide Arabia are as thoroughfares now 
For princes to come view fair Portia.8
The watery kingdom, whose ambitious head 
Spits in the face of heaven, is no bar 
To stop the foreign spirits, but they come, 
As o’er a brook, to see fair Portia

One of these three contains her heavenly picture
Is’t like that lead contains her? ’Twere damnation 
To think so base a thought. It were too gross 
To rib her cerecloth in the obscure grave.9
Or shall I think in silver she’s immured, 
Being ten times undervalued to tried gold
Oh, sinful thought! Never so rich a gem 
Was set in worse than gold. They have in English10

Image credit: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library, copy G.176.16. The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. First Quarto. London: 1600.

Citing this page: Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice, D3r. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by Rachel Priestley and Savita Maharaj. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16).


  1. This speech starts from the middle, and we wanted to contextualize that here Morocco is choosing one of the three caskets.
  2. In the Norton Shakespeare edition dross is defined as rubbish
  3. See Indiwara Pandu's "Subaltern's Failure of Recognition in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice." Here Pandu illustrates how Prince Morocco harps on his "deserving" nature and explores the subaltern's desire to be recognized "to obtain the certainty of oneself"(113).
  4. This is an example of the transactional language use, highlighting capitalistic ideals
  5. Here, Morocco illustrates self-doubt, it shows a very human side of him that combats his excessive huberis
  6. We paid particular attention to the use of I here as Morocco contemplates his worth, especially regarding class, wealth, ego, and birth. He quantifies his worth with "deserving" Portia, disregarding her humanity
  7. This clip highlights Morroco's arrogance and sense of persona through his humor, body language, and relationship with Porsha
  8. This is just one example of the constant objectification of Portia, she fails to be acknowledged, but instead is constantly objectified for her beauty
  9. In the Norton Shakespeare edition cerecloth is "to enclose, her shroud (normally covered with a layer of lead)"
  10. This inclusion of "they have in English" models how we start looking at the text from the middle and end in a similar way.