MOV: Act 1 Scene 1

The extract is drawn from the famous play, “ The Merchant of Venice” scripted by the legendary poet, William Shakespeare.  The expository the scene can be deemed effectually significant and integral as it exposes the audience to a string of new characters and their attitudes towards the melancholic Antonio. Furthermore, these notions are explored with the usage of fine diction, extensive vocabulary, and allusions. Moreover, the reoccurring theme of friendship warrants the scene to be considered significant.

The language, the writer indulges not only allows the readers to interpret deeper meanings, but also realise the unique writing style of Shakespeare. The play is broken open with an immediate introduction of the protagonist, Antonio in his melancholic state, and the much obvious attempts of his friends to drag Antonio out of this ‘sadness’. However, it is yet unknown what causes Antonio his depression, as he is still ‘to learn’ about this ‘ want-wit sadness.’ This mystery not only engrosses the readers more in the plot, but also familiarises the audience with the style of writing Shakespeare possessed. Moreover, considering the fact that, The Merchant of Venice is a Comedy, the audience is perplexed with the segments of trauma and depression, however, as the readers discovers this pattern of Shakespeare writing, the play seems to be a more understandable, hence making the scene remarkable and appreciable. Alternatively, the sudden introduction of so many characters in just the exposition scene iterates that Shakespeare will definitely have an enormous array of characters in the play that will be released later at unanticipated moments. Also, words such as ‘your argosies,’ ‘merchandise’ and  ‘ports’ that are claimed by Antonio’s friends, also throw light on the Antonio occupation and provide a brief history about his life. Furthermore, this simultaneously connotes Shakespeare writing designs. It suggests how the main characters, such as Antonio never recite their narratives themselves, where as it the surrounding and the other characters drive the play forward. One may also extrapolate that Shakespeare believes in the equality of the character importance, and that all characters together are essential in not only making the expository scene important, but also the entire plot more appreciable.

Concurrently, the repetitions, allusions and historical references aid in interpreting deeper meanings, thus making the scene significant. Firstly, the phrase such as ‘rich burghers’ allow the theme of friendship and love to untangle, as his friends pacify Antonio, after presuming the reason for his grief to be the fate of the ships, that Antonio had invested heavy amount on. In addition, repetitive usage of the word ‘it,’ is also observed, which Antonio states whilst addressing his melancholy. Such genderless pronouns suggest the melancholy to be generated by something tangible, thereby implying the cause to be gravely substantial. On the other hand, the grief may also symbolize, the relinquishment of a close friend. Probably, Bassanio who is explored in later scenes. Yet, these extrapolations are not confirmed as Antonio rejects all these judgments. Moreover, the notion for despair that is abundant in the lives of men is also blatantly denied, when Solanio interrogates if Antonio ‘was in love.’ One can conjure how Antonio felt for women with a disgustful response, ‘ Fie! Fie!.’ , with, the exclamation mark heightens the above notion and shedding light of Antonio’s resentment towards the opposite gender. Therefore, if not his friends, but the audience can surely deduce the tangled and confused personality of Antonio.

Shakespeare makes use of the allusion that allow his personality to be studied more intricately. Firstly, the reference of “Two-headed Janus”, the Roman god of doorways and choices denotes the feelings of the protagonist. “Janus”, who is fashioned normally with a grinning face and simultaneously with a frowning countenance, connotes the dual faces of humans. It is iterated that due to his flummoxed and confused mind, which was being hit by different, juxtaposing thoughts, Antonio belonged to that quota of world, which shared a perpetually fallen countenance. A fraction that was that was can be deemed to have copious problems that warranted their life’s to be as sour and unpleasant as ‘vinegar.’ Moreover, it is the opposite side of the “ two-headed janus” that Salarino and Solanio wish to bring out of Antonio, majorly because Shakespeare wishes to lighten the mood of the play and reinvigorate the Genere of Comedy. One can also infer that Antonio probably was facing more than just a single issue and had a plentiful of disturbances striking him simultaneously.  Thus, the vivacious usage of allusions accurately unravel Antonio’s plight, thus making the expository scene vital. 

  Furthermore, the efficacious usage of metaphors, imageries and literary devices assist the scene by making it seem integral. Firstly, the use of metaphor ‘like signors and rich burghers’ is compared to the grand ships of Antonio. This is phrase has its comical connotation and it used to appease Antonio’s worry regarding the fate of his ships. It compares his ships of High stature, whilst it sails in the midst the rest of the diminutive crowd. It envisages how affluent Antonio was, and suggests that even the ruggedness of the tides would finally abate and fail to knock of ‘woven wings’of Antonio’s ships. The following connotes that his ships were adept at their field and their movement is compared to that of the effortless gliding of birds. Furthermore, the above notion is accentuated by the phrase other ships “will do you reverence”. This implies how the small ships are afraid of bigger ships like of Antonio’s and also that they wish being that size, thus pay them respect by bowing down. Alternatively, this can also mean that due to the mammoth size Antonio’s ship, the waves would be germinated due to its movement, thus smaller boats would travel up and down, that we might consider as bowing down with reverence. The movements of the big ships can be understood as how they have monopolized the seas and control the traffic within in. However, later on in the scene, the diction is quite contradictory to that of the former ones. Its ironic how Antonio’s friends commence with the usage of phrases with threatening and unfortunate connotations, rather that placating their friend with words of encouragement. The expression “ dangerous rocks” symbolizes the obstacles the ship could face, furthermore shedding light on the troubles that Antonio will have to face after loosing enormous amounts of wealth. Later, in the expression, “ Vaialling her high op lower than her ribs to kiss her burial” one can accurately conjure what is being suggested. We can extrapolate how “ribs” which mirror the sides of ship might admit defeat and sink vertically facing into the seabed.  Thus, with it transmits a message that, even though large ships are tougher, have more amounts of metal, but when It faces the ruthlessness of the nature, even the strongest and most confident are stopped. Therefore, foreshadowing an unfavorable and unfortunate scene, which may include sacrifices and near death situations. Lastly, the ever-flowing contemplations and thoughts are captures in the phrase, “ Your mind is tossing on the ocean.” The expression correctly recognizes the mental state of Antonio. The ‘ tossing’ is a suggestive to the fact how the Antonio fears the possibility of unpredictability and is worrisome about his ships. We can also deduce that it is the fate of the ships that sail in the ocean of infinite obstacles that will decide the fate of Antonio later on in the play.

  Thus, with the effective usage of polished diction, allusions, visual imageries and metaphorical references, the  expository scene can be visualized as extremely vital and integral.


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