Week 1 (Spring ’21): Act 1

Hi there! Your homework this week is to read Act 1 of The Merchant of Venice, watch my videotaped lectures below (sorry for the lousy production values — I’m working on it!), and then post a comment about Act 1 at the bottom of this page. Note that the speeches that I single out for mention in my lectures are printed below each video. Also note that at the bottom of this page, below all of the videos, I give you some simple study questions to help you formulate a post. The study questions follow up on things I say in my lectures, so you may want to watch the videos first. Leave your post in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Speeches of note in Act 1, scene 1:

                          Antonio, 1.1.1:                          
                            In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
                            It wearies me, you say it wearies you;
                            But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
                            What stuff 'tis made of, whereof it is born,
                            I am to learn;
                            And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
                            That I have much ado to know myself.

                         Antonio to Bassanio, 1.1.119:
                            Well, tell me now what lady is the same
                            To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,
                            That you today promised to tell me of.

                         Bassanio's reply:
                            'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio,
                             How much I have disabled mine estate
                             By something showing a more swelling port
                             Than my faint means would grant continuance.
                             Nor do I now make moan to be abridged
                             From such a noble rate; but my chief care
                             Is to come fairly off from the great debts
                             Wherein my time, something too prodigal,
                             Hath left me gaged.  To you, Antonio,
                             I owe the most in money and in love,
                             And from your love I have a warranty
                             To unburden all my plots and purposes
                             How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

                          Bassanio on Portia, 1.1.161:
                             In Belmont is a lady richly left;
                             And she is fair, and fairer than that word,
                             Of wondrous virtues.  Sometimes from her eyes
                             I did receive fair speechless messages.
                             Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued
                             To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia;
                             Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth,
                             For the four winds blow in from every coast
                             Renowned suitors, and her sunny locks
                             Hang on her temples like a golden fleece,
                             Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand,
                             And many Jasons come in quest of her.
                             O my Antonio, had I but the means
                             To hold a rival place with one of them,
                             I have a mind presages me such thrift
                             That I should questionless be fortunate!

Speeches of note in Act 1, scene 2:

  Nerissa to Portia, 1.2.26:
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 you shall rightly love.  But what warmth is there in your affection towards any of these princely suitors that are already come?

  Portia at 1.2.122:
If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his approach.  If he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me.  Come, Nerissa.  Sirrah, go before.  Whiles we shut the gate upon one wooer, another knocks at the door.

Speeches of note in Act 1, scene 3:

   Shylock speaking of Antonio, 1.3.15:
Ho no, no, no, no!  My meaning in saying he is a good man is to have you understand me that he is sufficient.  Yet his means are in supposition.  He hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the Indies; I uderstand, moreover, upon the Rialto, he hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and other ventures he hath squandered abroad.  But ships are but boards, sailors but men; there by land rats and water rats, water thieves and land thieves -- I mean pirates; and then there si the peril of waters, winds, and rocks.  The man is, notwithstanding, sufficient.  Three thousand ducats -- I think I may take his bond.

   Shylock turning down a dinner invitation, 1.3.31:
Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the habitation which your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into!  I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following; but I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you.  What news on the Rialto?  Who comes here?

   Shylock on Antonio, 1.3.38:
      How like a fawning publican he looks.
      I hate him for he is a Christian;
      But more, for in that low simplicity
      He lends out money gratis and brings down
      The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
      If I can catch him once upon the hip,
      I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
      He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
      Even there where merchants most do congregate,
      On me, my bargians, and my well-worn thrift,
      Which he calls interest.  Cursed be my tribe
      If I forgive him.

   Shylock to Antonio, 1.3.105:
      Signor Antonio, many a time and oft
      In the Rialto you have rated me
      About my moneys and my usances.
      Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
      For suff'rance is the badge of all our tribe.
      You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog,
      And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
      And all for use of that which is mine own.
      Well then, it now appears you need my help.
      Go to then.  You come to me and you say,
      "Shylock, we would have moneys" -- you say so,
      You that did void your rheum upon my beard
      And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
      Over your threshold:  moneys is your suit.
      What should I say to you?  Should I not say,
      "Hath a dog money?  Is it possible
      A cur can lend three thousand ducats?  Or
      Shall I bend low, and in a bondman's key,
      With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness,
      Say this:
      "Fair sir, you spit on me Wednesday last,
      You spurned me such a day, another time
      You called me dog; and for these courtesies
      I'll lend you thus much moneys."

   Shylock to Antonio, 1.3.141:
      This kindness will I show:
      Go with me to a notary; seal me there
      Your single bond, and -- in a merry sport --
      If you repay me not on such a day,
      In such a place, such sum or sums as are
      Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
      Be nominated for an equal pound
      Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
      In what part of your body pleaseth me.

Discussion Board

Write a comment on The Merchant of Venice Act 1 and post it in the comments section below.  Be sure to quote the text of the play at least once in your post.  Consider answering any of the following study questions:

1. Shakespeare always has each of his characters use language a little bit differently.  This is one of Shakespeare’s most important and most subtle means of characterization.  For example, I note in my lectures that Shylock uses a lot of legal and contractual language, which he means very literally:  this portrays him as a literal-minded, lawerly character who traps people with his precision.  Can you describe how any other character in Act 1 uses language in a distinctive way that fleshes him or her out as a character?

2. As I note in my lectures, the language of money is everywhere in this play.  Can you give another example (i.e., not one I discuss in my videos) of money-themed figurative language in Act 1?

3. I always find it odd that this play begins with Antonio’s depression (“In sooth I know not why I am so sad…”).  We never learn–at least not explicitly–why Antonio is depressed.  Can you make sense of the play’s opening?  In other words, what do you think is the meaning or the dramatic significance of Antonio’s depression?  Make sure your theory refers to explicit lines of text later on in Act 1.

4. As I point out in my videos, there are many parallels between Shylock and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, even though the two merchants are supposed to be bitter enemies.  Can you point out and discuss some similarities between Shylock and Antonio that I do not talk about in my lectures?

I encourage you to reply to your classmates’ posts if you want to.  Also, feel free to ask questions that I can answer when we meet over Zoom.

Lastly, please refer to the Instructions for Posting (in the main menu of this website) in order to avoid confusion when making your first post. WordPress likes to try to get you to create an account and give them your contact information, but this is unnecessary and you should not do it. Posting is really easy once you’ve done it already.

37 thoughts on “Week 1 (Spring ’21): Act 1”

  1. 1. In Act 1 Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice, the language used by Portia helps her characterization. Portia uses language that one would associate with royals in Shakespeare’s time. This language style helps her characterization because it allows the readers to see that she has status as well as showing the readers that her status means more to her than her suitors. “So is the will of a living daughter curbed by / the will of a dead father. Is it not hard, Nerissa, that / I cannot choose one, nor refuse none?” (1.2, 24-26). The entire monologue that is composed of lines 12 through 26 is an example of how Portia views her status as more important than her suitors because it is stating that even though she has suitors and she cannot choose or refuse any of them, she is content with the way her life of status is. The idea that she is content with the way her life is going is shown again a little bit later in the scene; “If I live to be as old as Sibylla, I will die as / chaste as Diana unless I be obtained by the manner / of my father’s will” (1.2 106-108).

  2. Salarino and Solanio use very lively and lighthearted language, in a way which not only fleshes out their characters but also Antonio’s whole friend group. It gives the impression that Antonio and his friends are a group of charming young men who enjoy playful banter and simply hanging out, which I would imagine is a very typical representation that Shakespeare and other writers used during this time to portray young men. This lively and enthusiastic language that Salarino and Solanio use often comes about as they are using intense imagery to describe situations. One example is Act 1, Scene 1, Line 14, in which Salarino describes the merchant ships going past smaller ships by saying “As they fly by them with their woven wings.” This kind of language makes Salarino almost sound as though he is telling a magical and adventurous story.

    (It would not let me post a comment without entering an email, so I used my LeMoyne email.)

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Do you think the play would have different dynamics if Salarino and Solanio weren’t this way? Why do you think so?

      – Jessica Lopez

  3. In Act 1 Scene 3 of The Merchant of Venice, the language used by Shylock shows the readers that he is a proud and stubborn man. The way he talks to Antonio shows how he sticks up for himself being a Jew even though Antonio curses him out and makes fun of him for being a Jew he still is willing to do business with him because at the end of the day he is a proud businessman. “Why, look you how you storm!/I would be friends with you and have your love,/Forget the shames that you have stained me with,/Supply your present wants and take no doit/Of usance for my moneys—and you’ll not hear me!/This is kind I offer”(1.3,136-140). Shylock is demonstrating that he is going to be the bigger man in the situation even after everything Antonio has said and done to him, he is going to take no interest in the loan as Antonio does, showing Antonio that he is bigger and better when Antonio is Christian and Shylock is Jewish.

  4. Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, begins with the protagonist, Antonio, in a gloomy mood for unknown reasons. Antonio is conversing with Salarino and Salonio who are trying to figure out why he is depressed. Salarino suggests that Antonio is upset about the possibility of his merchant ships being lost at sea or pirated. Antonio replies, “My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, / Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate / Upon the fortune of this present year: / Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad” (1.1, 43-46). Antonio is clearly not too worried about his ships at sea. Salonio then suggests maybe he is sad because he is in love. Again, Antonio denies this and it raises the question why he is upset. I think that Antonio is upset because he knows that soon his close friend Bassanio will depart from Venice. The loss of contact with his friend could be what is causing Antonio to be depressed. When we are initially introduced to Bassanio, Antonio asks him about his trip to see a woman. Antonio remarks, “Well, tell me now what lady is the same / To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage, / That you today promised to tell me of?” (1.1, 126-128). Therefore, it can be concluded that Antonio knew of his friend’s departure at the beginning of the play. Bassanio moving away seems to be the most probable cause of Antonio’s sadness. Shakespeare probably included this in the introduction to subtly hint at the close relationship the two friends share.

  5. Looking at Act 1, Scene 3 of The Merchant of Venice, we can see that Antonio and Shylock are actually quite similar even though they hate each other. A major theme that dominates this play is money. This is something that so far in this play we can see that most of the characters’ actions are motivated by money. Shylock and Antonio both seek out money and fortune, and they also both happen to be money lenders. A difference in the way Antonio and Shylock lend out money can be seen in lines 160-164, “Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit / Be nominated for an equal pound / Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken / In what part of your body pleaseth me” (1.3, 160-164). This shows how Shylock lends money with interest, unlike Antonio, which is looked down upon as it was common practice in those days to lend money with no interest. Another similarity between the two is that they are both proud of their religion and resent the other for it.

  6. 3. In my eyes, Shakespeare starts off this play with Antonio’s depression as a way to represent many of the characters’ true motivations and priorities. We learn that Antonio trades goods overseas and is only the shell of a man when his fortunes are not with him (1.1.9). We then quickly learn that Bassimo puts on a rich persona when in reality he is broke and prioritizes money over everything (1.1.175). We then have Portia, a heiress that inherited a lot of money. When looking at men, she seems to judge them for how rich they look, and does not try to dive deeper (1.2.74-78). Finally, we have Shylock, whose profession revolves around making money deals (1.3.9). All of these characters have made money the biggest part of their lives. We see that each character values how a human looks on the exterior, rather than how they look on the interior. Without money, these characters would not know what to do with themselves. In addition to this theory, I also suspect that Shakespeare uses Antonio’s depression as a way to foreshadow the idea that valuing material things will often lead to devastating consequences.

  7. 1.In Act 1 is Bassanio is portrayed and described as someone who will be known as the leading man based on the impressions that are written about them. The behaviors and characteristics that these characters are portrayed are known to portray young men that will eventually win the girl. In Act 1 Scene 1 line 131-132, “By something showing a more swelling port, than my faint means would grant continuance.” During this time portraying young man, appearance is one of the characteristics that Shakespeare has written which the audience are known to seeing this type of character. The character that Bassanio is, is showing that the outside is supposed to be more important than the inside, which will create a standard that is look in a young man.

  8. In this play, Shakespeare has his characters use language differently. In act 1 scene 1 we meet Antonio, who seems to be really sad. Shakespeare has Antonio using sad and melancholy language, to build Antonio’s character and start the play with the problem of Antonio’s depression. But in act 1 scene 2 we meet Portia. And Shakespeare takes a different approach with the language in order to build Portia’s character. In that scene it show’s the conversation between Portia and Nerissa, and how Portia is not so happy about being forced into marriage. They talk about each man who has come to try and pick the lucky chest, hoping to marry her. But this is where the language Portia uses comes into play. The language used shows that she is a funny character in this play, she often mocked each of the men that came to her, “He is a proper man’s picture, but alas, who can converse with a dumb show?” (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 72-73). The mockery and comedy that Shakespeare had Portia using develops her character differently from the rest, just by the use of language.

  9. 1.In Act 1 characters use language in a distinctive way that fleshes them out as a character. For example, Antonio’s opening speech shows that he feels very depressed for a reason that he does not completely understand. In act 1, Scene 1, line 1:

    In sooth I know not why I am so sad.
    It wearies me, you say it wearies you;
    But how I caught it, found it, or came by it.

    Characteristics of people during this time who are sad either has to do with money or love, but primarily money. The play is based on concepts of money. Antonio’s character is most likely sad because he is nervous that his ships are away at sea. In his speech, he uses a lot of sad language. He is also very bold and daring for sending ships out to sea and also when he speaks with Shylock and agrees on a loan with a consequence of getting a body part taken off if he does not pay back his money.

    2. Language of money is everywhere in the play. For example, as mentioned in the lecture, the description of Portia stresses the importance of money. Lack of money is a moral weakness in the play and people are treated differently with more money and wealth. There is a lot of figurative language that has to do with money throughout Act 1 and the play. An example of money-themed figurative language in Act 1, besides what was mentioned in the video was when Shylock makes a statement to Antonio in scene 3, lines 142-149:

    This kindness will I show.
    Go with me to a notary, seal me there
    Your single bond, and—in a merry sport—
    If you repay me not on such a day,
    In such a place, such sum or sums as are
    Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
    Be nominated for an equal pound
    Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
    In what part of your body pleaseth me.

    In this statement, Shylock is agreeing to lend money, however if Antonio doesn’t repay him the penalty will be him cutting off and taking off one of his body parts. This shows the importance and significance of money and what prices will be paid if Antonio doesn’t live up to his promise.

    3. My theory as to why Antonio is depressed is based on money, when Salarino tells Antonio in Act 1, scene 1, lines 9-14:

    Your mind is tossing on the ocean
    There, where your argosies with portly sail
    Like signors and rich burghers on the flood—
    Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea—
    Do overpeer the petty traffickers.
    That curtsy to them, do them reverence.
    As they fly by them with their woven wings.

    He has a ton of capital loaded on trading ships which are out at sea and he is anxious about the fate of his ships to get back to port.
    Antonio is involved in very risky business, his ship could be lost or attacked by pirates and he could lose money, so it is making him sad and nervous.

    4. There are many parallels between Shylock and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice, even though the two are bitter enemies. Some of these similarities would include, having the same racial exterior but different racial and religious backgrounds. Christian Europeans and Jewish Europeans don’t look very different and even though Shylock is racially belittled, he doesn’t look different than anyone else. Another parallel would include their want to obtain a fortune like most people during this time and the importance of money and lending money in their lives.

  10. In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice he uses slightly different language for each of his characters to better portray who they are and their roles in society. In act I scene II we are introduced to Portia, the woman Bassino is said to be in love with, and Nerissa, Portia’s lady-in-waiting. In this scene Portia is going on and on about how unhappy she is with her deceased fathers strict plan of how her husband should be determined. She goes on to discuss each of the suitors to Nerissa, when she states “If I could bid the fifth welcome with so good a heart as I can bid the other four farewell, I should be glad of his approach. If he have the condition of a saint and the complexion of a devil, I had rather he should shrive me than wive me.” (Act I, Scene II, Lines 127-130). In these lines Portia is clearly displaying her bias against men of color, as she says even if they were the perfect suitor she still wouldn’t wish to marry him solely because of his skin color. Based on this racial bias we can also infer that Portia shares society’s bias towards religions other than christianity, as she is a wealthy heiress of Belmont.

  11. The language of money is present in every conversation in Act I. A money-themed figurative language used in Act I was when Antonio tells Bassanio: (Act I, Scene 1, lines 187-189)

    Try what my credit can in Venice do;
    That shall be racked even to the uttermost
    To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.

    Since Antonio’s fortunes are at sea, he tells Bassanio to use and see what his reputation and image can get him in terms of money to have a chance to win Portia. This example connects back to the idea that a person’s worth is not primarily based on their virtue and value but translated into financial assets.

  12. In Shakespeare’s play the merchant of Venice he has his characters use language that helps the people watching or reading better understand them. In act I scene II Portia is brought into the play. She is talking to Nerissa about Portias fathers will. Portia is unhappy with what her father wants and to show that she goes on to explain the downsides of all the men that meet the criteria for her to get married. Describing one man Portia says “He doth nothing but frown” (Act I Scene II). Portia says something bad about every man that is considered by her father as a good man for marriage. With her language we can see how much she dislikes what her father wants for her. She does not even give the men a chance before she decides she dislikes them.

  13. I believe that the reason for Antonio’s sadness isn’t important, but it is rather the impact that the sadness has on him and how it adds to his character. Seeing Bassanio so desperate to see his love interest sparks a sense of compassion in Antonio. Even when Antonio is experiencing a low point, he would still give anything to ensure that Bassanio doesn’t feel that same way, even if it means a sizable financial risk when his money is tied up elsewhere. He says to Bassanio (Act I, Scene 1, lines 184-192):

    Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea;
    Neither have I money nor commodity
    To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth:
    Try what my credit can in Venice do;
    That shall be racked even to the uttermost
    To furnish thee to Belmont to fair Portia.
    Go presently inquire, and so will I,
    Where money is, and I no question make
    To have it of my trust, or for my sake.”

    This truly emphasizes Antonio’s altruism as a character.

  14. We are able to see how Shakespeare uses language differently with all characters. The characters are each unique and can be easily distinguished between one another by the choice of language. Specifically when Portia is introduced in the play, we can see how she feels towards men in the play. She describes them and judges all of them because she is unhappy with her father and therefore all men are no good for her. When looking at Act I, Scene II, we can see that her language is very bossy and she expresses how she feels towards men.

    For example, in Act I, Scene II, Lines 56-64 says:

    “God made him, and therefore let him pass for
    a man. In truth, I know it is a sin to be a mocker,
    but he!—why, he hath a horse better than the
    Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than
    the Count Palatine. He is every man in no man. If a 60
    throstle sing, he falls straight a-cap’ring. He will
    fence with his own shadow. If I should marry him, I
    should marry twenty husbands! If he would despise
    me, I would forgive him, for if he love me to
    madness, I shall never requite him.”

  15. Antonio’s depression is an interesting aspect of The Merchant of Venice because he is not in love as most Shakespeare characters are expected to be. However, although this is never explicitly stated, I believe that Antonio is depressed for the opposite reason that his friends guess he is. Solonio says in Act 1 Scene 1 “Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth, the better part of my affections would be with my hopes abroad.” I believe that the fact that Antonio is making risky investments is because he is depressed and is trying to feel something; the reason he is depressed is because his money does not buy him the happiness that he may have hoped for. He now gives his money away sparingly and even at the end of Act 1 agrees to a deal that if he does not pay Shylock his loan back, he will give him a pound of his flesh. He clearly takes such big risks because he is unsatisfied with being wealthy. Antonio makes it clear that he is not worried about his finances at all when he says “Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it” in Act 1 Scene 1.

  16. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice many characters speak and interact with characters differently. The language they use helps the reader understand more about these characters in respect to the story of the other characters. One example for which this is prevalent are with Antonio and Bassanio’s friends, Salarino, Solanio, Lorenzo, and Gratiano. The way these 4 interact with Antonio and Bassanio shows the reader that they are there merely for the support of these two during the story. They also acknowledge the difference in the importance of their friendships with these two and the friendship between the two. “Fare ye well; we leave you now with better company” (Act 1, scene 1, line 59). Prior to this line both Salarino and Solanio are attempting to aid Antonio in figuring out why he is sad or depressed until Bassanio, his “most noble kinsman” arrives and they leave for them to converse. Gratiano and Lorenzo arrive with Bassanio but after some dialogue where they also leave the two.

  17. Although Shylock and Antonio fuel their hate largely on each other’s religion, the fact of the matter is that their religions aren’t remarkably different from each other. In act one scene three, Shylock references a bible story found in the book of Genesis, which is a book that both Christians and Jews base their beliefs off of. The two characters can easily understand this reference because The Torah, or Jewish Bible consists of the first five books of the Christian Bible. A further similarity is shown in how these men live out the laws expressed in these five books; specifically, The Ten Commandments. Despite the fact that loving one’s neighbor is among the most important commandments in both religions, both men fail to do so. Even though they both believe in the same God, they continue to hate each other because they express vaguely different religious ideas.

  18. The reason for Antonio’s depression throughout act 1 has everything to do with the two central themes of the play; wealth and love. We can tell through the use of language, money and greed are the primary driving force of this society. And as such, Antonio has secured his wealth by dividing his interests among many ventures all across the world(Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 44-47). To feel that secure in his business as to not be worried about losing merchandise must have taken a massive amount of work on Antonio’s part. Which can very well have stunted his growth within his relationships. We know he has had no time to consider romantic prospects in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 48-49, whereas he scoffs at the idea of his sadness being related to love. His previous idea of relationships is also summed up in lines 83-85 of the same scene, “I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;/ A stage where every man must play a part,/ And mine a sad one.” Through his experiences, the world is no longer special, and he feels trapped within his role in society. He believes himself to only be playing a role, which would mean he fears his relationships appear only at face value. So at the beginning of the play, what we are witnessing is burnout, and a desperate shift in his perspective that is no longer monetary based, but rather relationship based. And right as he is experiencing this, his dearest friend comes to him seeking help. Antonio then chooses to put everything on the line in order to secure a relationship between his good friend and a woman he has never met(Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 87-89). This choice leads him into making a bad deal in Act 3 with Shylock that makes no monetary sense. Although this is not an act of love in a romantic sense, it can be considered a platonic act of affection. A means to form deeper connections with the people around him, thus proving to himself he’s not another cog in the machine. Which is in complete contrast to the greedy motives of the people surrounding him.

  19. In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare uses specific patterns in language to build up his characters. In Act I, Scene II, we are introduced to Portia, a heiress of Belmont. Portia is a lady in waiting due to her deceased father’s will. She has met her possible suitors and has nothing positive to say about them. She jokes and talks with Nerissa, her waiting gentlewoman, about how she will never marry any of these men willingly. She describes each suitor in a different way.

    Act I, Scene II, Line 40-42 (Neapolitan Prince)
    “…for he doth nothing but talk of his horse, and he makes it a great appropriation to his own good parts…”
    Act I, Scene II, Line 48-50 (Count Palatine)
    “I fear he will prove the weeping philosopher when he grows old, being so full of unmannerly sadness in his youth.”
    Act I, Scene II, Line 58-60 (French Lord, Monsieur Le Bon)
    “…why, he hath a horse better than the Neapolitan’s, a better bad habit of frowning than the Count Palatine.”
    Act I, Scene II, Line 72-73 (young baron of England)
    “He is a proper man’s picture, but alas, who can converse with a dumb show?”
    Act I, Scene II, Line 80-83 (Scottish lord)
    “…he borrowed a box of the ear of the Englishman and swore he would pay him again when he was able. I think the Frenchman became his surety and sealed under for another.”
    Act I, Scene II, Line 86-87 (Duke of Saxony’s nephew)
    “Very vilely in the morning, when he is sober, and most vilely in the afternoon, when he is drunk.”

    This language that she uses shows that Portia has no interest in marrying any of these men. She is upset with her father’s will, so she speaks of the men very negatively. This language portrays Portia’s mindset and how she has given up hope on marrying. She believes that no man deserves her hand in marriage.

  20. At the beginning of The Merchant of Venice, we are introduced to Antonio, who is in a low, gloomy mood for the reason that isn’t said. My reasoning about why Antonio is depressed is what Salerio says to Antonio in Act 1, scene 1, lines 8-14
    “Your mind is tossing on the ocean
    There, where your argosies with portly sail
    Like signors and rich burghers on the flood—
    Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea—
    Do overpeer the petty traffickers.
    That curtsy to them, do them reverence.
    As they fly by them with their woven wings.”
    They assume that he’s depressed is because his ships haven’t returned to the docks yet, which means he isn’t making any profit. If he loses one or all of his ships, he could lose everything.

  21. In Act 1 of The Merchant of Venice, we are brought to the conclusion that money is very important to most of the characters so far. Antonio, Bassanio, and Shylock all show many examples that were mentioned on how important money is to each of them. A quote I found that could be represented to show how important money is to the characters in this play is in Act I Scene I. Here, Bassanio is introducing Portia to Antonio. He describes her by using this quote starting on line 161, “In Belmont is a lady richly left; And she is fair, and fairer than that word, Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages.” After reading this sentence, I have come to an assumption that what attracted Bassanio to Portia is her wealth and her outside look, not her “inside” or so you would say personality. This just shows that because Bassanio is not really money worthy of her, he had to ask Antonio to borrow money to prove he is really worthy of her. If he is shown worthy, he would marry her and share her wealth in which he would benefit greatly from her money.

  22. As I was reading Act 1, scene 2 one of the quotes caught my attention. In line 8-10, it says ” “Superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but competency lives longer” which went along to what Portia made herself to be in Act 1. She comes off as sad herself and seems to lean on Nerissa to help her cope with her sadness in finding love. This quote that stood out to me shows that too much happiness will get you tired and old looking faster. There has to be a balance between happiness and sadness. Also this scene also ties in with Shakespeare using money before love because as Nerissa brings up the few men that Portia has come across, Portia surprisingly does not have something to respond that includes money. For example, the Neapolitan prince, Portia just says that he is too much into his horse.

  23. Shakespeare does a great job throughout Act 1 of presenting both perspectives of a discriminatory relationship. In Act 1, Scene 3, Shylock’s speaker tells Antonio “You call me misbeliever, cutthroat dog, / And spet upon my Jewish gaberdine, / And all for use of that which is mine own” (ln. 121-123). Not only does this scene show the accepted extent of antisemitism in Shakespearean times, but this exact quote from Shylock dives into physical actions, and harsh spoken words directed towards him because of his religion. However, Shakespeare doesn’t stop there. Later in the same scene, Antonio’s speaker responds to Shylock “I am as like to call thee so again, / To spet on thee again, to spurn thee too” (ln. 140-141). Though Shakespeare may not have been antisemitic himself, he creates a character in Antonio who is blatantly prejudice towards another major character, and another in Shylock who is driven by his hatred for Antonio due to Antonio’s Christianity and his prejudice, showing readers a dramatic scene offering character development for multiple characters.

  24. In the Merchant of Venice Act 1 Scene 2 Portia is talking to Nerissa about her future husband.Of course her partner must pass this “test” left from her father. But when Portia is talking to Nerissa she almost uses a different tone or meaning in her words. For example in Act Scene lines 34-36 Portia says “I pray thee overname them, and as thou namest them I will describe them, and according to my description level at my affection”. In these lines Portia males it seem as if she is above the men she is about to meet about the future of her life. This meaning and tone she uses shows how highly she is going to expect these men to act.

  25. Shakespeare famously uses rhythms (iambic pentameter) and sounds to depict the true emotions of his characters. In Act I scene I when Antonio is talking about his depression some of his lines end in an unaccented syllable as opposed to the usual accented ending. This can depict the character’s uncertainty and him showing a bit of weakness in his speech. Antonio also uses long vowel sounds to accentuate his sadness. His words, such as weary and sooth, are drawn out and can show us, the readers, this character’s emotions.

  26. The play commences with Antonio’s depression. And there is no direct/explicitly stated reason for that, but Shakespeare is nothing if not deliberate. He puts in minute details and nothing is an accident. So why is Antonio so depressed and why start the play with that? After some deep thinking and some research, I do think that Antonio is in love. When his friends propose the theory that he is worried about losing his ships, he answers with a well reasoned argument and clearly explains why that isn’t the case. However when teased about being in love, he responds with a simple “Fie, for.”(1.i.46). And that sounds like someone caught in a lie, or someone who is flustered because he actually is in love. Additionally, In Shakespearean comedy, this sense of melancholy is a common symptom of love sickness.
    The line

    “my purse, my person, my extremest means/Lie all unlocked to your occasions,” (1.i.138-139)

    alludes to Antonio’s near devotion to Bassanio, as he will make his physical person and all of himself available to Bassanio whenever he needs. Furthermore, Antonio being madly in love with Bassanio would explain why he goes to such lengths (including putting himself in danger and losing his wealth) to make sure Bassanio is successful in wooing someone else and to make sure he is happy. Antonio puts Bassanio’s own happiness above his own.

  27. I think Shakespeare starts the play with Antonio appearing to be upset in order to grab the viewers attention, and perhaps make them wonder what is to come. “In sooth I know not why I am so sad; It wearies me, you say it wearies you; But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born; I am to learn…” As the reader of this text, I was immediately hooked, and expecting something within the next scenes; an answer as to why Antonio was depressed.

  28. Salanio seems to use laid back language when speaking and the others in his group (Antonio a and Salarino uses this sort of language as well. This kind of gives us insight into how they portrayed young men back then as seen in a few of Shakespeare’s plays. An example of this laid back/lighthearted language Salanio uses comes from Act I, Scene I, page 7. “Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth, The better part of my affections would Be with my hopes abroad”. This line makes him sound laid back and gives me the impression that he has an bubbly personality.

  29. (7:00 pm class)

    I also agree that it is weird that the scene starts with Antonio’s depression. It doesn’t help that Antonio himself doesn’t even know why he’s depressed in the beginning. If we look further into the reading Salarino suggests that Antonio is depressed/sad because he may be unhappy. As you can see from this passage Salarino says

    “Then let us say you are sad,
    Because you are not merry: and ’twere as easy
    For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry,
    Because you are not sad.”

    Which in fact confirms that Antonio may be sad, because he is not happy. If I had to guess this is sadness is probably going to develop because of the lack of love.

  30. I believe that Antonio’s depression is caused by his obsession with wealth. The pursuit of wealth is his main motivation. I think the point is that this is a hollow and unsatisfying way of life. Antonio says, “My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, nor to one place; nor is my whole estate upon the fortune of this present year: therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.” (MOV Act 1 Scene 1 Line 43-46) Antonio is not worried about his money, much of it is at sea and therefore vulnerable but he still has plenty of wealth. Nor is Antonio concerned about love as he responds emphatically to his friend’s question, “Fie, fie!” It is what is lacking in Antonio’s life that is making him sad. The lack of purpose beyond financial concerns is what ails him.

  31. In the first act of The Merchant of Venice, Solanio tries to suggest to Antonio as to why he is sad because, his money that he has tied up into one single investment and that the investment in ships could be a risky area that could lose him all his wealth.

    Solanio says to Antonio(Act 1, Scene I, Lines 19-21)
    And every object that might make me fear
    Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
    Would make me sad.

  32. Antonio is introduced with him talking about his sadness. I think that his sadness stems from his merchant ships and what those ships are transporting.
    Your mind is tossing on the ocean
    There, where your argosies with portly sail
    Like signors and rich burghers on the flood—
    Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea—
    Do overpeer the petty traffickers.
    That curtsy to them, do them reverence.
    As they fly by them with their woven wings.
    Act 1, Scene 1, 9-14
    These lines show how much these shipments stress out Antonio, later on he talks about he is happier when his ships are in port near him. I also think that he struggles with his love life as that also stresses Antonio out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s