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What reason does Salarino give as the probable cause of Antonio's melancholy in The...

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Bandel

Posted September 13, 2013 at 8:41 AM via web

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What reason does Salarino give as the probable cause of Antonio's melancholy in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 13, 2013 at 2:30 PM (Answer #1)

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Salarino and Antonio have a conversation in the opening scene of the play, Act I scene i of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. Antonio says he is feeling sad but does not know the cause. Salarino can see that Antonio is despondent and proceeds to give three separate speeches, uninterrupted by any response from Antonio, about what he is sure is the cause of Antonio's malaise.

Salarino says he is certain the cause of Antonio's bad feeling is that he is thinking about all his ships being tossed about on the ocean, ships full of cargo that will make him rich or make him poor if they are lost. Salarino tries to reassure Antonio that his ships are perfectly safe but then says that, if it were his ships at risk, he would be doing exactly the same thing--worrying. 

...I should be still
Plucking the grass, to know where sits the wind,
Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads;
And every object that might make me fear
Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt
Would make me sad.

As if that were not enough, Salarino makes a third speech, detailing all the ways in which he would be worrying about his ships and their cargo if he were Antonio, finishing with these simple lines:

I know, Antonio
Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

After all that, after thirty-four uninterrupted lines of descriptive reasons why Antonio is worried about his ships, Antonio briefly answers that losing his ships does not bother him at all. Salarino moves blithely on to his next guess: love.

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