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Prince Morocco: Analysis

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William Shakespeare has written numerous works that have circulated the globe because of their vast popularity. His pieces are those that came to understand the needs and desires of his audience which resulted in mass appreciation overall. One of his well know plays, The Merchant of Venice, deals with common issues that the audiences in which Shakespeare wrote for could connect to. Shakespeare identifies characters through their speeches, soliloquies and the rest of their acted personalities. From this approach of getting to know characters, it may be how the audience can distinguish said characters as seeming very real and alive. The play could be perceived as complex due to the many conflicts that arise. One character in particular stands out as a contributor to a main conflict in the play. Ashamed and insecure at first however later proud, Prince Morocco initially sets the stage the suitors of Portia that follow. Regardless of how Prince Morocco is only depicted in The Merchant of Venice in two scenes, his egotistical actions due to his selfishness, his conflict with his newly found fate, and his inferred entanglement between self interest and love are uncovered. Prince Morocco is initially introduced as one who is seeking Portia’s hand in marriage. The Prince of Morocco asks Portia to ignore his dark complexion and attempts to win her by picking one of the three caskets; having only one contain her portrait which is the one he hopes to find. Prince Morocco explains his thoughts on each of the caskets as he reads the inscriptions on them. He says the lead casket is not worth hazarding everything for and quickly disregards it. When he comes to the silver casket he comments, “Thou dost deserve enough and yet enough may not extend so far as to the lady’’(II.vii.27-29). He exposes his secret fear that he may not deserve Portia. He considers silver not to be grand enough for Portia, for as her stature is far greater, and sends away this casket as well. He settles upon the gold casket thinking that “what many men desire” describes Portia because “all the world desires her”. His choice can be explained by the fact that it is only his royal blood and his fortune that lends him respect from the people of Venice and grants him power along with stature. His riches are very important to him. From this it becomes evident that Prince Morocco cares only for physical love and a desire for physical pleasures. This means Prince Morocco judges on outward appearances. Thus the quotation, ‘‘All that glisters is not gold’’(II.vii.66) befits his character which is clear to be insecure and shallow, proving that he is not the one deserving of Portia. In spite the fact that Prince Morocco is a minor character in The Merchant of Venice, he is somewhat involved in the conflict revolving Portia, as he is one of many suitors that have taken a risk in the of trying for her. Because he is wealthy and well known, he believes that he deserves the best. Nevertheless, due to his superficial attitude towards his entire outlook on life, Prince Morocco selects the gold casket to reveal not Portia’s portrait but a skull with a scroll implanted in one of the eye sockets. This not being the correct caskets reveals two problems. One being simply that there are still two remaining caskets to be unveiled. The other being detrimental for the Prince for the reason that he must be punished for choosing incorrectly. Portia’s father created a lottery such that the most deserving man would choose the correct casket. Whereas those who dare to take part in this lottery and choose wrong, they must leave immediately, never speak of the lottery, and never seek another woman in marriage. From selecting the gold casket Prince Morocco must accept his fate. In Act 2, Scene 7, Lines 75-78, Morocco pleaded his woe to Portia after hastily succumbing to his fortune. “Cold indeed and labor lost. Then farewell heat, and welcome frost. Portia adieu; I have too grieved a heart to take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.” Again this just proves that he truly was not deserving enough for Portia. As a result, Prince Morocco departs where his misery awaits while Portia is still anticipating hope that the right suitor will come along. When it’s all said and done, the conflict is resolved with the arrival of Bassanio who partakes in the lottery and wins Portia’s hand. However, even though the underlying conflict was resolved, Morocco’s personal defeat remains. The self-absorbed and shallow character that is Morocco, is a key component in the explanation and deliverance of one main theme in The Merchant of Venice; the prevalence of self interest over love. From the very beginning of the Prince’s appearance in the play, he is seen to possess the qualities in a man who expects the world to be handed to him on a golden platter. He is only thinking about himself and what he deserves when he should really be focusing on Portia and being with her rather than her material possessions. As a result Morocco loses his chance at having Portia at all because of the fact that he was simply participating in the lottery to better his social and financial standing rather than trying to find his true love. The Prince states his position on which casket he shall choose when he says, “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. Or shall I think in silver she’s immured, being ten times undervalued to tried gold? O sinful thought! Never so rich a gem was set in worth of gold..Here do I choose my, and thrive as I may”(II.vii.47-60). Quite possibly before he chose any casket, he chose his fate by having the personality he does. Morocco set himself for misery because money and wealth cannot buy you happiness and love. He put his own selfish and materialistic ideals before the power of love and it turned out for the worst in his case. He did not make it far by caring only about himself. Due to his overall greed and self-obsessed nature, Prince Morocco lost out on not only riches and glory, but on loving Portia and being loved in return. Prince Morocco is not a man of whom I would want to meet, if that were ever possible. Having the priorities that he does, turns me away from trying to like his character all together. How could I appreciate him as a respectable person when he would have no real respect towards me as a person? Unless I had riches to the sky, he would not take a second look my way. Morocco is all about the money, wealth and the power whereas most would be looking for love and mutual respect.

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