focusing on minor characters in the plays. In Merchant it will be “Tubal”

Tubal appears in Act Three Scene One, after Shylock’s famous speech.

Salanio. Here comes another of the tribe:
the “tribe” are compared to devils

Shylock and Tubal talk about his daughter Jessica

Shylock. How now, Tubal! what news from Genoa?
Has Tubal been to Genoa? It is 250 miles away from Venice which is probably about 4 days journey in those days. Is there a gap of time of a few weeks between Jessica’s elopement and this scene? it makes sense as news of Antonio’s ships have reached Venice in that time.

Tubal has been looking for Jessica in Genoa but hasn’t found her but often heard of her. He then changes the subject and brings in Antonio and his misfortune.

Tubal. Hath an argosy cast away, coming from Tripolis.

Tubal knows of Antonio’s bond to Shylock and this seeming innocent remark must anger Shylock. Is this on purpose?
He then goes back to the subject of Jessica and tells Shylock that she spent 80 ducats in one evening at Genoa. Again, he must know that this will anger Shylock.
He then goes back to talk about Antonio and his debt to Shylock

he cannot choose but break.

Straight back to Jessica

Tubal. One of them showed me a ring that he had of your daughter for a monkey.

This seems deliberate baiting of Shylock. Everything he says is designed to anger him and use his anger agaisnt Jessica to revenge on Antonio. Tubal must also have a motive for this blatant minipulation of Shylock. He probably has been abused by Antonio like Shylock has.
Shylock decides to execute his bond after this talk, coincedence? No.
Tubal is not an innocent minor character but a pivot for the play and Shylock!


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