You can’t always judge a book by its cover. People are often tricked by false appearances. In court, someone can deliver a false plea but hide its wickedness with a pretty voice. In religion, don’t serious men defend sins with Scripture, covering up evil with a show of good. Every sin in the world manages to make itself look good somehow.

How many people are cowards at heart but wear beards like Hercules or Mars, the god of war? Take another example: beauty. It can be bought by the ounce in makeup, which works miracles. Women who wear it the most are respected the least. It’s the same thing with hair. Curly golden hair moves so nicely in the wind and makes a woman beautiful. But you can buy that kind of hair as a wig, and wigs are made from dead people’s hair.

Decoration’s nothing but a danger, meant to trick and trap the viewer. A lovely, cunning shore can distract a man from the perils of a stormy sea, just as a pretty scarf can hide a dangerous dark-skinned beauty.

Nowadays, everyone’s fooled by appearances. So I’ll have nothing to do with that gaudy gold box—it’s like the gold that Midas couldn’t eat. And I’ll have nothing to do with the pale silver either, the metal that common coins are made of. But this humble lead one, though it looks too threatening to promise me anything good, moves me more than I can say. So this is the one I choose.

I hope I’m happy with my choice!

The Merchant of Venice, Act3, Scene 2

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