William Shakespeare 's The Merchant Of Venice

Good Essays

Some stories take what feels like forever to finally begin. A lengthy introduction, extra details or seemingly useless dialogue can make readers skip over what seems like a false beginning to a good story. But think about this: what if those seemingly lengthy, extra, useless words were actually important? For example, the opening 115 lines of William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice are provide minimal support to the story at first glance. In these lines, Antonio and his friends are discussing the dynamics of happiness and sadness in order to find the root of Antonio’s sad mood. This portion of the play gives background information about Antonio’s ships which becomes relevant when Bassanio needs his help later, but other than that the …show more content…

He then refuses to accept anything but a “pound of flesh” for the bond, even when he is offered significant money. In addition to these things, he makes it known that he hates Antonio because he is not good at business and because he is a Christian while Shylock is a Jew. Hating the protagonist places him as the antagonist of the play. The opening 115 lines set up the play because these lines contain the first dialogue and they also declare the conflict’s beginning through their language. Towards the end of the conversation between Antonio, Salerio and Solanio, Solanio mentions “two-headed Janus” (I.i.50), who is the Roman god of all beginnings. Janus’ name comes from the Roman word, jani, which are structures that were used for “symbolically auspicious entrances or exits” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica). In this definition, auspicious means “showing or suggesting that future success is likely” (Auspicious). As soon as Solanio is done with speaking about Janus and finishes what he has to say, Bassanio enters the room; a character who leads Antonio into the conflict of the play. Solanio’s mention of Janus is an example of foreshadowing in these opening lines. Upon mention of the Roman god of all beginnings, the character who begins the conflict of the play enters the room. In addition to this, Janus’ name comes from a word that shows an

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