In The Merchant of Venice, what reasons do Salanio and Salerio give for Antonio's sadness?     

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shakespeareguru eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the opening scene of The Merchant of Venice Antonio is being coaxed to explain his sadness to Salanio and Salerio.  Antonio says that he "knows not why [he is] so sad," yet these two are convinced there is a reason.

Salerio suggests that Antonio's "mind is tossing on the ocean" along with his very richly laden ships.  Supported by Salanio who says

And every object that might make me fear

Misfortune to my ventures, out of doubt

Would make me sad.

And Salerio adds:

But tell not me:  I know, Antonio

Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

Antonio swears that his ventures are safe since they aren't placed solely in the ships at harbor.    And then Salerio guesses that it must be love that has Antonio sad.  To this, Antonio says, "Fie, fie."  And finally Salerio concludes:

Then let us say you are sad

Because you are not merry.

The characters Salanio and Salerio do the majority of the talking in this opening scene, and so what is really troubling Antonio remains a mystery in their conversation.

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The Merchant of Venice

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