Shakespeare Glisters Is Not Gold

Topics: Love, Gold, The Merchant of Venice Pages: 4 (1552 words) Published: May 12, 2006
All that glitters is not gold; an idiom derived from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. In a note written by Portia, she writes, "all that glisters is not gold," and very well it appears so (2.7.65). For a better understanding of this quote, we must understand who the message was intended for. When Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice, the year was 1558- right at the beginning of the Elizabethan Era. Queen Elizabeth rein succeeded from 1558 to 1603, a period often considered as the golden age. A period where new and radical ideas came about and England's influence increased worldwide. This era was associated with faux gold where everything that could possibly be leafed in gold was. The idea behind gold leafing was to symbolize the idea of utopia- where Queen Elizabeth pushed towards efforts to create a better and perfect society. So to say "not that that glister is not gold" is a theme Shakespeare's audience could have coincided with in society and the play. The audience were accustomed to plots and deceptions in their everyday lives in which they could relate to the play and view things from an outsider's point of view. The audience can view and understand the conditions of Portia's casket game, and Shakespeare relates this game to the society in which they were living in. Portia puts on a casket game, similar to that of Queen Elizabeth, a game where you must uncover the hidden truth.

Portia and Bassanio demonstrate the idea where there are obstacles to uncover in romantic relationships; however with true love, there will always be a way. The caskets are obstacles Bassanio must overcome, and in tern if he does, he will understand the true nature of love to win Portia. Each of the three caskets represents a different view of love. Gold, silver, and lead, what is the most precious? The first to play the game is the Prince of Morocco. He unwisely chooses the gold casket and is barred from marrying anyone in the future. The reasoning behind his decision...
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