"May I help you?"
here are several servants in The Merchant of Venice. Sure, they are small parts, but they are not small people. I thought they deserved to be spotlighted on their very own page. So, get ready to be introduced to each servant his contribution to the play:
Click on the name to go down to them:
Servingman / Leonardo
Messenger / Man
Balthasar / Stephano
Messenger (non-speaking) / Jailer
Portia's Servingman is the first small servant (Nerissa is sort of a servant, but she already has a page!) we meet. We never learn his name, thus it is left up to our imaginations. Feel free to make up a name for him!
The Servingman's Moment of Glory:
"The four strangers seek for you, madam, to take their leave; and there is a forerunner come from a fifth, the Prince of Morocco, who brings word the Prince his master will be here tonight" (I.ii.121-124)
Give him a round of applause!!
|Next we have Leonardo, described as "Bassanio's man." He appears briefly, yet memorably, in Act II, scene ii, to utter these immortal words:|
To Bassanio: "My best endeavors shall be done herein."
And to Gratiano: "Yonder, sir, [Bassanio] walks"
WHAT A GUY!!
|Now we come to another generically named character, the Messenger, who appears in Act II, scene ix (he/she is not to be confused with the non-speaking messenger who arrives later in the play - more on that to follow). For a nameless character, this Messenger sure has a lot to say (and an opinion, too)! In fact, he/she wins the award for the biggest small servant role in the show! But again, this all depends on the actor playing him/her.|
DRUM ROLL, PLEASE...
"Where is my lady?
Madam, there is alighted at your gate
A young Venetian, one that comes before
To signify th' approaching of his lord,
From whom he bringeth sensible regreets,
To wit, besides commends and courteous breath,
Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen
So likely an ambassador of love.
A day in April never came so sweet
To show how costly summer was at hand
As this fore-spurrer comes before his lord"
|Another unnamed character (and this is the worst generic name), a Man from Antonio, appears in Act III, scene i, to pronounce this unforgettable line:|
Solanio: "Gentlemen, my master
Antonio is at his house and desires to speak with you both"
Wow, that was deep.
|Here's a guy with a name (albeit very little to say) - Balthasar, another man of Portia's, who enters in Act III, scene iv, and whom Portia calls "honest-true." He serves the important role of going to Padua to Portia's cousin, Doctor Bellario, and procuring the documents and garments that will transform Portia into a young lawyer. Portia consequently takes the name of Balthasar when she goes to court. Anyway, here is Balthasar's big moment:|
"Madam, I go with all convenient speed" (III.iv.56).
(Doesn't this make you wonder what kind of speed is convenient, and what kind isn't?)
|And the last of the speaking-small-servant parts is Stephano, yet another man of Portia's (boy, is she loaded!). He has the honor of exchanging a few lines with Lorenzo in Act V, scene i:|
"Lorenzo: Who comes so fast in silence of the night?
Stephano: A friend.
Lorenzo: A friend? What friend? Your name, I pray you, friend?
Stephano: Stephano is my name, and I bring word my mistress will before the break of day be here at Belmont. She doth stray about by holy crosses, where she kneels and prays for happy wedlock hours.
Lorenzo: Who comes with her?
Stephano: None but a holy hermit and her maid. I pray you, is my master yet returned?"
-Is it just me, or does Lorenzo seem a bit paranoid?
|Last, but not least, there are a couple of actors who not only don't have real names, they don't say anything. But you can look at them here, because I believe every character is there for a reason:|
The Messenger (not to be confused with the other messenger)
Oh, one more thing: You may wonder where Tubal's web page is. Well, ok, I admit this may be an oversight. But Tubal's kind of boring. He only appears in one scene (III.i) and his function is basically to give Shylock some info. He's almost like Solanio and Salerio, except there's only one of him, and he's a Jew like Shylock. I don't know why, I just don't find him as cool as all the servants. But just so no one gets mad, here is a token quote from Tubal:
"Your daughter spent in Genoa, as I heard, one night fourscore ducats" (III.i.101-102).
Maybe I don't like Tubal 'cause he's a TATTLE-TALE!!
Go on or check out the very helpful Servants' Links page.
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Portia / Shylock / Bassanio / Antonio / Gratiano & Nerissa / Lorenzo & Jessica / Salerio & Solanio / The Gobbos / The Princes / The Duke