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!
Fascinating lecture on the trial scene in The Merchant of Venice
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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
Act Two, Scene Two
These Tojans don’t half like giving long speeches! Another long scene of them arguing about rescueing Helen or if it’s a waste of money and men. Briefly interrupted by the mad sister Cassandra.
Hector thinks thay should give up and retreat but the others think it’s matter of pride now and will keep fighting for her
Act Two Scene One
some good comedy and wonderful insults traded by Ajax and Thersites. This probably comes as a relief to an audience after the fairly dry opening scenes in Act one
“Thou stool for a witch!”
“Thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbow”
“thou thing of no bowels!