The Three Boxes
The book ‘The Three Boxes’ is taken from the Shakespeare play, ‘The Merchant of Venice’.
The heroine of the story is a young girl called Portia. Her father was a rich merchant who died leaving her a vast fortune.
It is essential she should marry, but in his will her father has dictated the terms by which she must choose her husband. Each suitor has to choose one of three caskets, a gold one, silver one and a lead one. Only one of the caskets has a picture of Portia contained in it, the suitor to choose it will win her hand.
In the Shakespuss Tale, no mention is made of her Father’s death, but his will is clear through his presence at the meeting with the suitors. The word casket is replaced with a simple box. The essence of the choice coining stock phrases such as ‘All that Glitters is not Gold’ serving as the moralistic point of the Tale.
Small elements of the Shakespearean language are retained in the description of each casket, read out by the Prince of Morocco, easily understood, but introducing the idea of a language a little different to today.
In the original play Portia is aware of Bassanio already and is clearly besotted with him, thus is keen that he manages to make the correct choice, but her moral duty, and her allegiance to her Father stays her from helping him, but instead leaves it to fate.
Essential to the character of Portia is her sense of grace and decorum, her attributes are still reflected within the Shakespuss character, always retaining a kindness, with only her asides displaying any distaste she might have for some of the suitors.
There is mention of up to six suitors in the play, but only the Prince of Aragon and the Prince of Morocco are named. Simplicity is the key to the Shakespuss Tale, and a basic understanding which remains an enjoyable story is the essential characteristic of the book.