Example research essay topic: The Role Of Salarino And Solanio In A Merchant Of Venice – 879 words

The merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeares many
fine works. One of the things that makes
Shakespeares plays so entertaining are his
characters. He often uses certain characters as
comic relief, and some strictly for romance.
Salrino and Solanio are Friends of main character
Antonio. They play a small but important
supporting role in Merchant of Venice. The role of
Salarino and Solanio is to be bystanders that
provide narration and comic relief. I call
Salarino and Solanio bystanders because throughout
the play they are never directly involved in the
action.

They are always somewhat removed. They
only appear in five scenes. They are not present
for the climax of the play; the trial scene (act
IV.1). Their interaction with Antonio is limited
to act I.1. They are not in any way involved in
the fight between Shylock and Antonio. They are
however, well versed in the drama.

They are
constantly discussing the events, but not taking
an active role in them. They even satirize the
drama. Act II.8 is a perfect example. They first
discuss Shylocks daughter stealing his money and
jewels. Solanio describes Shylocks tirade as: A
passion so confused, so strange, outrageous and so
variable as the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
(act II.8 L 12-15) They go on to discuss rumors of
Antonios ship being destroyed, and Antonio and
Bassanio parting company. We see Salarino and
Solanio are involved in the drama, but not in the
action.

Another reason Solarino and Solanio can be
seen as bystanders is that while they are friends
with Antonio, they are aloof and less devoted to
Antonio than Bassanio or Grationo. They certainly
dont speak of Antonio with love that Bassanio
does. They do not offer to help pay off Shylock.
They are not even present for Antonios trail. In
act II.9 Solanio mocks Bassanios love for Antonio
in saying I think he only loves the world for
him.(ActII.9 L 50). Another example of their
aloofness is when Salarino excuses himself from
Antonios company by saying I would have stayed
till I have made you merry,/ If worthier friends
had not prevented me.(act I.1, L60) Obviously
Salarino knows his place in the hierarchy of
Antonios company, and illustrates it with a bit of
sarcasm. Notice also the lack of sympathy Salarino
and Solanio show for Antonio in act I.1.

They are
not very comforting to Antonio. This certainly
contrasts with Bassanios declaration of his love
for Antonio the trail scene: Antonio, I am married
to a wife Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world Are
not esteemed above thy life. I would lose all, ay,
sacrifice them all Here to this devil, to deliver
you. (ActIV.9, L 280-85) Salarino and Solanio
certainly do not exhibit that degree of love for
Antonio. They are however, clearly on his side.
They obviously hold Shylock in extreme contempt.
They describe him as the villain Jew (act II.8 L
4) and as the dog Jew (act II.8, L 13). They try
to talk Shylock out of keeping his bond.

Why, I am
sure if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh.
What is it good for? (act III.1, L 47). Salarino
and Solanio are obviously on Antonios side, but do
not take an active role in helping him. Hence I
use the term bystander. Another Important role of
Salarino and Solanio is that their dialogue
provides insight into the drama and characters. In
a way they act as narrators. They break the news
when Shylocks daughter steals his money and also
provide commentary on the issue: I never heard a
passion so confused So strange, outrageous, and so
variable As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter (act II.8
L 12-15) Salarino and Solanio are also the first
to tell us that Antonios ship has been lost.

They
also inform Shylock of that fact. Besides acting
as narrators, they provide insight into
characters. As mentioned above, they mock the
intensity of Antonio and Bassanios relationship
(act II.9 L 50). The other role Shakespeare
created for Salarino and Solanio is comic relief.
Their tone throughout the play is sarcastic,
especially when speaking of Shylock. An audience
in Shakespeares time would probably find their
anti-Semitic tone humorous. As aforementioned,
whenever the two speak of Shylock they always
insult him.

When Solanio sees him approaching he
says: Let me say amen betimes lest the devil
cross/ my prayer, for here comes the likeness of a
Jew. (act III.1 L 19). Salarino goes so far as to
insult and mock Shylock to his face about the
flight of his daughter: I for my part knew the
tailor/ that made the wings she flew withal. ( act
III.1 L 24). Equating Shylock with the devil and
then mocking the flight of his daughter was
probably extremely funny to an audience of
Shakespeares time. Besides mocking Antonio and
Bassanios friendship (act II.9 L 50), Solanio
teases Antonio that he is in love rather than
upset about his ships at sea (act I.1 L 45).
Besides Salarino and Solanios insults towards
Antonio and Shylock, their overall tone is
sarcastic throughout the play.

When they find out
Antonio has lost a ship Salarino morbidly
comments..

Research essay sample on The Role Of Salarino And Solanio In A Merchant Of Venice