In The Merchant of Venice, why, according to Solanio and Salerio, is Antonio sad?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Merchant of Venice begins with the woeful Antonio who questions himself as to what could have made him feel so melancholy. He says that he has "much ado to know myself," (I.i.vii) and cannot understand his own sadness. Salerio, a merchant like Antonio, who is friends with Antonio and also Bassanio, for whom Antonio will ultimately offer a "pound of flesh," to Shylock, suggests that Antonio is preoccupied by thoughts of his fleet of ships which has not yet reached port. Antonio dismisses the idea as he stresses to his merchant friends that his "ventures are not in one bottom trusted," and so, even if there was a disaster, he would presumably be safe. This, in fact, foreshadows what will follow as Antonio's shipments do indeed fail to deliver and Antonio will be expected to provide Shylock with his "bond."   

Solanio then, if Antonio has no concerns over his shipments has a different opinion of the cause of Antonio's distress. "Why then you are in love,"( I.i.46) he ponders. Antonio also rejects this idea. There can be no explanation then, except to say that Antonio is "sad because you are not merry." (I.i.48-49)

Salerio and Solanio take their leave of Antonio when his very dear friend Bassanio arrives. 

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The Merchant of Venice

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