Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shakespeare - Three Chests of Gold, Silver and Lead

My 10 yo YR5 daughter and I read Shakespeare and Plutarch on Fridays. We're reading The Merchant of Venice which is a story we both know from having read it in the Nesbit version once when she was in YR3 and also just last week again as I read it to my YR3 son.

What's interesting is that we're learning there is more to the story than we knew; more that is actually fun for mother and daughter to read together.

In Act I, Scene II of the Merchant of Venice, Nerissa, Portia's waiting-maid, says to her about her deceased father:
Your father was ever virtuous; and holy men at their death have good inspirations: therefore the lottery, that he hath devised in these three chests of gold, silver and lead, whereof who chooses his meaning chooses you, will no doubt, never be chosen by any rightly but one who shall rightly love.

This is followed by some comical discussion of the suitors the rich heiress Portia has already met including a drunk who...
when he is best, he is little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast. 

Portia, not wanting the drunk to choose the right casket tells Nerissa she will have to lure him away from the right casket by placing a glass of rhenish wine on the contrary one. Clever girl. I think my favorite was her opinion of the French lord Monsieur Le Bon:
God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.

We already know Bassanio is her true love :)

In Act II, Scene VII we read what happens when the Prince of Morocco, one of her suitors, comes to pick one of the caskets to win her:
Portia: Go draw aside the curtains and discover
The several caskets to this noble prince. Now make your choice.
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?

Portia The one of them contains my picture, prince:
If you choose that, then I am yours withal.

Which is the right casket? You'll have to read it yourself to find out.

"I think I know" says 10yo girl with a smile :)

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