The Merchant of Venice 3.1

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!

Troilus and Cressida 5.7

Menelaus, who hasn’t had much to do in this play apart from being insulted now enters fighting in the climax of the play
Who is he fighting? Why Paris of course

Thersites. The cuckold and the cuckold-maker are at it.

Troilus and Cressida 5.1

Act Five Scene One

Concentrating on Menelaus still. Thesites has a wonderful spiteful address to the audience about him

his brother, the bull,—the primitive statue,
and oblique memorial of cuckolds;

Thersites really doesn’t like anyone but he has it in for Menelaus. He now calls him the memorial of Cuckolds. If Cuckolds had a God then Menelaus would be it.
Thersites continues, if he could be anything else he would be the lowest thing on earth as long as he wasn’t Menelaus.

 

Troilus and Cressida 4.5

This is a weird scene in which all the Greek lords kiss Cressida except Menelaus

Menelaus. I had good argument for kissing once.

He misses his Helen. Instead of sypathy he gets scorn and insults.

Ulysses. O deadly gall, and theme of all our scorns!
For which we lose our heads to gild his horns.

Remeber, They are at war because the Paris “stole” Helen from him and yet he is called Cuckold throughout the play by his own side. Horns are also a symbol for Cuckoldness used throughout Shakespeare’s plays

Menelaus pleads for a kiss from Cressida, but even she refuses and scorns him, calling him “odd” and throws Paris’ name in his face.

 

Troilus and Cressida 4.1

We hear more about the character of Menelaus, or at least how he is perceived.

When Paris asks Diomedes who derserves Helen more he answers “you both derserve her”

He merits well to have her, that doth seek her,
Not making any scruple of her soilure,

Menelaus deserves Helen because he would have her back even after she has been “soiled”

He, like a puling cuckold, would drink up
The lees and dregs of a flat tamed piece;

That word “cuckold” again

Menelaus is a Cuckold to Thersites and Diomedes at least!

Troilus and Cressida 3.3

Act three Scene three

As the lords “blank” Achilles to wind him up we see Menelaus. Now, remember that Menelaus was married to Helen who left him for Paris and is the cause of these wars.
Menelaus is almost a side character, not named, and has only one line which is blanking Achilles

Menelaus. How do you? how do you?  (exits)

Achilles then calls after him

Achilles. What, does the cuckold scorn me?

He calls him a “Cuckold”. Someone whose wife has had an affair (a paramour “MND”)

They are at war because of him and he is thought of as a “cuckold”? And Shakespeare almost dismisses him from the story altogether.

Troilus and Cressida 3.1

Act Three Scene One

Another “comic” servant

Then Pandarus meets Helen and Paris and sings them a song

It goes to show how neglected this play is that is no version of the song on youtube. Most shakespeare songs have been adapted in various genres but this one by Pandarus is absent from Youtube

 

Troilus and Cressida 2.3

Back in the Greek camp, Achilles, Thersites and Patroclus have a “comic” moment. The other Greek lords turn up and Achilles hides himself in the tent and refuses to see them

They will prepare for the battle without Achilles

so far, this play doesn’t fly off the page to me. i’ll search for a youtube video of a performance