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in Act 1 scene 1 of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Antonio's friend Salarino...

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smithsaab | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted April 6, 2013 at 6:21 AM via web

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in Act 1 scene 1 of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Antonio's friend Salarino speaks about the probable harms that ship can meet at sea.

He states: Should I go to church/ And see the holy edifice of stone."  What is the spiritual significance of "holy edifice of stone"?

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sensei918 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted April 6, 2013 at 5:08 PM (Answer #1)

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In Act I Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice, the merchant Antonio is walking with his friends Salerio and Salarino. Antonio seems sad, and his two friends are discussing probable reasons why Antonio is so down. Salarino thinks that it is because he is worried about the ships belonging to Antonio that are out at sea and might not safely make it to port. He gives a short speech, telling the other two men that if it were his ships out at sea, everything he saw around him would remind him of their potential loss. The quote you reference is part of a larger idea. It reads: "Should I go to church/ And see the holy edifice of stone/ And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks/ Which, touching but my genle vessel's side/ Would scatter all her spices on the stream/ Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks/ And in a word but even now worth this/ And now worth nothing?" (30-37).

So, his words are not about going to church, nor do they have spiritual significance. He is talking purely of business and how the idea of the rocks that make up the church remind him of the rocks that could destroy his ship and cause him to lose money. He would lose his spices and his silks, which he plans to sell at a profit.

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