Narrator: The Merchant of Venice is set in 16th century Italy. Venice, a city of canals, at that time was a famous cultural and trading centre. Antonio is a leading merchant in the city. The scene opens on a street in Venice. (Enter Antonio, Salaries and Isolation from left side of stage. They walk up to the centre) Antonio: Truly, I don’t know why I’m feeling sad; It’s tiresome; you say you’re tired of it too. But I have no idea why I started feeling this way.
And this sadness makes me lose my brains, so that I have to try hard to understand even myself. Salaries: Your mind is worried, getting tossed around on the ocean, where your merchant ships are. Your ships are like fancy parade floats on the sea, to which the smaller ships must bow and show their respect. Your ships fly like birds past the smaller boats. Isolation: I would be constantly worried too if I were you. Blowing on my soup to cool it down would make me fear strong winds at sea; the sand in the hour glass would make me imagine my ships wrecked on sandbars.
The stone the church is made of would remind me of the rocks that could brush up against my ship and make it cater its cargo of spices and silks on the roaring water. In a moment, all that I have could get lost and make me bankrupt. Who wouldn’t get sad thinking about the chance of such things happening. It’s obvious that Antonio is worried about his merchandise. Antonio: Trust me, that’s not the reason. Fortunately, all my wealth is not on one ship or one part of the world. Nor does my entire wealth depend on this year’s business. It is not my business that makes me sad.
Isolation: Then you must be in love! Antonio: What nonsense! Salaries: You’re not in love either? Then let’s Just say that you are sad because you’re not cheerful. And it would be Just as easy for you to laugh and Jump around and say you are cheerful because you are not sad. God, nature makes people so strange. Some people will laugh at anything, while others are so grumpy that they never laugh at a Joke, even though the most serious person promises that it is funny. (Enter Bassoon, Lorenz and Granting) Isolation: Here comes your friend Bassoon along with Granting and Lorenz.
Good luck, we leave you now in better company. Salaries: I would nave sat o cheer you up it worthier trends hadn’t shown up. You are very dear to me. I assume you need to leave to take care of your own Antonio. Business. Salaries: Good morning, gentlemen. Bassoon: My friends, when can we get together to have a good time? We hardly ever see you – does it have to be that way? Salaries: We’ll meet you when you are free. (Exit Solaria and Isolation( Lorenz: Bassoon, since you’ve found Antonio, we’ll take leave of you. But don’t forget we’re meeting for dinner. Bassoon: Don’t worry, I won’t forget.
Granting: Antonio, you don’t look well. You care too much about the world. Those that do, end up the loser. You really don’t look yourself. Antonio: I only see the world as it is, Granting. A stage where every man has a part to play, and mine is a sad one. Granting: Let me play the fool and get laugh lines and wrinkles from laughter. I’d rather that my liver gets damaged by too much alcohol than my heart gets put down by sorrow. Why should a warm blooded man behave like a stone? Why should he sleep when he’s awake? Why should he fall sick from being irritable?
I speak to you out of love and concern, Antonio. There are men whose faces are covered in a mask s thick as that on a stagnant pond, who pretend to be serious so that others think them wise. They think that everyone should be quiet when they speak. Antonio, I know of men who are supposed to be wise because they are silent; but I’m sure if they were to speak, people would see that they are fools. I’ll tell you more about this some other time, but don’t try to use sadness to get such a reputation, which is Just not worth having. Good luck, I’ll finish lecturing you after dinner.
Lorenz: All right, we’ll see you at dinnertime. I must be one of those silent so-called sis men, because Granting doesn’t let me get a word in. Granting: If you hang around me for two more years, you won’t recognize the sound of your own voice. Antonio: Good luck, I’ll start talking a lot because of this nonsense. Granting: Thanks. The only silence that is good is that of an ox-tongue ready to be eaten, and an old maid. (Exit Granting and Lorenz) Antonio: Does that mean anything? Bassoon: Granting talks more nonsense than any other man in Venice.
His point is like a needle in a haystack – you can look all day before you find it, and when you do, oh realize it was not worth the trouble. Antonio: Tell me, who is this lady you’re making a special trip to meet? You promised to tell me about her today. Bassoon: Antonio, you know how Vive damaged my finances in trying to keep up a style of living which I couldn’t afford. It’s not that I mind cutting down my expenses. My main concern is to pay off my debts that Vive incurred by having too lavish a lifestyle. I owe you most, Antonio, in money and for your affection.
Your affection gives me leave to share with you my plans to free myself from my debts. Antonio: Do tell me, Bassoon; as long as it is honorable, like you are, I will do all I can to help you. Bassoon: When I was a schoolboy, if I lost an arrow, I would shoot another arrow in the same direction, watching it more carefully than the first. By risking the second arrow, I would often find both. I’m giving you this example because it is so simple. I owe you so much , and like a spoilt child, Vive lost what I owe you. But if you’re willing to shoot a second arrow the same way you shot the first, I will watch your arrow more carefully this time.
I am sure that I will either get all your money back, or at least what I borrow this second time, and gratefully remain in debt to you for the first amount I already owe you. Antonio: You know me better than that. You need not have used this complicated way to my affection. This meaner you doubt my friendship, and that’s worse than if you had bankrupted me. Tell me what I can do, and I will do it. Tell me. Bassoon: There is a rich heiress in Belmont who is beautiful, and even better, is a good person. Sometimes, from the message in her eyes, I can see that she likes me. Her name is Portia.
She is as admirable as Cat’s daughter, Brutes’ wife, Portia. Her worth is world-famous, and famous and important men come from all over the world to woo her. Her hair that hangs on her forehead is like the golden fleece that attracts many Jason to Belmont, as if it were Colitis. Oh Antonio, if I were rich enough to hold my own against those suitors, I know I could win her. Antonio: You know all my wealth is tied up at sea. I don’t have the cash to give you. Go ahead and see what my credit can get for you. I will stretch all my credit to provide you what’s necessary to go to Belmont, to Portia.
Go tint out what you can get, and so will l, and I have no doubt that you will be able to get it either as a business loan or as a personal favor. (Exit Bassoon and Antonio) Salaries: I would have stayed to cheer you up if worthier friends hadn’t shown up. Antonio: You are very dear to me. I assume you need to leave to take care of your own they were to speak, people would see that they are tools. I’ll tell you more about t to my detection. This meaner you doubt my transcends, and that’s worse than it you you what’s necessary to go to Belmont, to Portia. Go find out what you can get, and so