In this extract from William Shakespeare’s play "The Merchant of Venice," a critical scene unfolds as the Prince of Arragon attempts to win Portia's hand in marriage by choosing the correct casket. There are three caskets made of distinguishing materials – gold, silver, and lead – each containing a clue that leads to Portia's hand.
The scene begins with Nerissa, Portia's lady-in-waiting, asking a servant to draw the curtain as the Prince of Arragon is about to make his selection. Portia reminds him that if he chooses correctly, they will be immediately married, but if he fails, he must leave and never return.
Sticking to the vows he has been instructed to follow (not revealing his chosen casket, if unsuccessful, never again seeking a woman's hand in marriage), the Prince of Arragon dismisses the gold box, criticizes those who choose outwardly material things, and decides there's more merit in choosing the silver casket.
Upon opening it, he finds a portrait of a fool instead of Portia, meaning his choice was incorrect. He reads out loud the message within the silver casket, which implies a hint of mockery, suggesting he is as superficial as the silver he was attracted to. The Prince takes his failure in stride and keeps his promise to leave Portia and her court immediately.
Portia, witnessing the Prince's departure, reflects on the folly of her suitors. She criticizes their lack of wisdom in making choices and remarks how their haste and superficiality have cost them their chance at winning her hand.