View Full Version : Question about Merchant of Venice

10-30-2007, 11:03 PM
Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this... but I've got a quick question I'm hoping you guys could help me out with.

We're studying the Merchant of Venice now in class and I can't recall what this excerpt from Gratiano would be called, I don't think it's a monologue or a soliloquy. If anyone could help me out that'd be great.

Let me play the fool.
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
85 Why should a man whose blood is warm within
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster,
Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio—
I love thee, and 'tis my love that speaks—
90 There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
And do a willful stillness entertain
With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
95 As who should say, “I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!”
O my Antonio, I do know of these
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing, when I am very sure
100 If they should speak, would almost damn those ears
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
I'll tell thee more of this another time.
But fish not with this melancholy bait
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.—
105 Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare ye well awhile.
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

01-04-2008, 11:11 PM
Gratiano is a long-winded boob. This speech occurs early in the play, doesn't it? He's asking Antonio why he is so glum. Rather than asking solicitously why his friend is unhappy, he makes a lot of stupid remarks about why anyone would choose to be glum when he could choose to make merry. Makes a reader want to slap the guy. The other men are glad when he leaves, because obviously Antonio is in no mood for his nonsense.

Gratiano also acts as a foil in this scene--so merry and carefree in stark contrast to Antonion's quiet, pensive mood.