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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: September ::
Re: MV Characters
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 724. Saturday, 10 September 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Collins <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 Sep 1994 11:03:14 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re:SHK 5.0721  Qs: MV Characters
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Sep 1994 15:19:38 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   MERCHANT characters
 
(3)     From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM.BITNET>
        Date:   Saturday, 10 Sep 94 00:28:19 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0721  Qs: MV Characters
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Collins <
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Date:           Friday, 9 Sep 1994 11:03:14 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 5.0721  Qs: MV Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0721  Qs: MV Characters
 
With regard to Robert Neblett's query about Salerio and Solanio, it seems to me
that this is one of those occasions when there is a difference between the
minor characters.  I can't claim actually to have counted the lines, but
Solanio impresses me as having more--and as having more speeches that go on for
more than a line or two.
 
What does he say?  Whereas Salerio speaks more to get business done, Solanio
offers more opinions, says more that suggests something about what kind of
person he is.  It's he, for example, who in the first scene brings up the
possibility of "love" with regard to Antonio's troubles and goes on to quip
that "Nature hath fram'd strange fellows in her time."  He seems to me to be
enjoying more lurid possibilities than the occasion really allows.  And later
(II.viii) it's Solanio who is most forward in terms of anti-semitic language.
He's the one who speaks of the "villain Jew," "the dog Jew," and who most
enjoys Shylock's quandry expressed in the "My daughter!  O my ducats! O my
daughter!" sequence.
 
Perhaps he is just more vocal, and he certainly can't touch Gratiano or
Bassanio for the depths of their anti-semitism.  He doesn't spit upon or kick
people like Bassanio, nor does he enjoy the ironies of the trial scene quite so
much as Gratiano who positively delights in turning the knife Portia and
company have stuck into Shylock.  Nonetheless, Solanio seems to me a
particularly nasty follower, all the more detestable because he lacks the
imagination to lead.  Salerio, of course, has his negative moments.  But when
he describes Shylock's obdurate nature (see III.ii.274ff.) there is a certain
reserve in his description of which Solanio would probably not be capable--not
to mention Gratiano.
 
Is the difference big enough to worry about?  I think so.  If there's an actor
available who has a talent for conveying sheer nastiness, he's the one to play
Solanio!
 
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Sep 1994 15:19:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        MERCHANT characters
 
It's now generally thought that that Salerio and Salerino are one dramatic
figure -- or character if you wish. Montgomery and Wells discuss the problem in
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: A TEXTUAL COMPANION, 232-24.
 
But Robert Neblett may wish to look at David Bradley's FROM TEXT TO PERFORMANCE
IN THE ELIZABETHAN THEATRE for Bradley's idea of "dodging," i.e. one character
played by more than one actor. Are Salerio/Salerino and Solanio important
enough to demand the theatrical attention of ONE actor for each character?
Bradley's position is (or might be if he had discussed this play) that the man
who decided the roles might not think so. Both roles may have been "dodged" on
the Renaissance stage. And thus, who cares what "character" "Sal." refers to?
Sal. is "function" rather than "character."
 
Just asking,
Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM.BITNET>
Date:           Saturday, 10 Sep 94 00:28:19 EDT
Subject: 5.0721  Qs: MV Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0721  Qs: MV Characters
 
Merchant Characters:  Ah, in my salad days I played all of those guys, somehow,
very badly in my second (and last) effort as a performer.  Whatever the serious
criticism may be on those fellas, you should look at Stephen Leacock's giddy
piece, "Saloonio." It appears in his LITERARY LAPSES, and I can send a xerox to
anyone who asks, since I haven't seen it reprinted anywhere.  It should be read
aloud as an initiatory ritual at the opening moments of SAA Textual Seminars.
 
Giggling,
         Steve Urgigglewitz, Chair of English, City College of New York
 

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