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Salerio and Salanio in the Merchant of Venice In the play The Merchant Of Venice there are many prominent characters There is Bassanio and Antonio the wealthy business types and Shylock a scrutinized Jew And of course three women Portia Nerissa and Jessica who are to be wed by Bassanio Lorenzo and Gratiano to complete this tragedy Keep in mind that women were played by male actors in Shakespeares plays Each of these characters is comedic in some cases powerful and overall they help to bring the play and the city of Venice to life However there are two characters Salerio and Salanio whose relevance doesnt really stand out In fact when the Shakespeare lists the characters he states Salerio and Salanio only as friends of Antonio and Bassanio and Venetian gentlemen Its not that Salerio and Salanio arent insignificant characters but that they do fit in with Venetian life by keeping the action going and developing the major characters Salerio and Salanio are two indistinguishable Venetian men with no definitive role Salanio and Salerio in some editions of the play called Salarino or Salerino are not popular roles with many Shakespearean actors As minor characters in the play these young men have little individuality which makes them the least interesting characters in the play For example Salerio excuses himself by asserting that his only concern is to make Antonio merry and that he is leaving because better friends have arrived I160-61 Since Salerio and Salanio function largely as commentators stage directors have a good deal of leeway in deciding how their role should be interpreted In some productions for instance Salerio and Salanio reveal the darker side of Venetian life expressing Antonios unspoken prejudices by physically jostling and abusing Shylock Although these two men are true to their Venetian identity they speak more lyrical and poetic rather than their practical or business-minded friends For example before Shylock shocks the play with his
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