Antonio’s Sadness in the Stoic Theatrum Mundi of the Early Modern City

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Abstract

Antonio's opening claim in The Merchant of Venice, that he is ‘so sad’ because he has been given a sad role on the world stage, has often been neglected in the history of the play's reception. The present analysis begins with an examination of central passages to clarify the role of sadness in relation to the trope of the theatrum mundi. It shows that the sadness is persistent and earnest, and that this is caused by an understanding of the meaning of the theatrum mundi, which has hitherto been overlooked. The article then considers the historical light in which the theatrum mundi should be seen in the context of the play with respect to the prior textual analysis. The suggestion is that in relation to both the intellectual history of ideas and to Elizabethan audience-response, the play negotiates a Christian-Stoic version of the theatrum mundi without breaking away from the genre of comedy and paradoxically not abandoning Antonio's sadness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrbis Litterarum
Volume74
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)264-277
ISSN0105-7510
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17. Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Shakespeare
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Sadness
  • Theatrum mundi
  • Stoicism
  • world theatre
  • sadness
  • theatrum mundi

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