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The Sadness of the Merchant

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In the opening lines of The Merchant of Venice, the young merchant Antonio is questioned by his friends about his sadness. His friends Salarino, Solanio and Gratiano attempt to determine why Antonio is sad. Antonio denies that his sadness is about his concern for his investments in merchandise at sea. When asked if his melancholy is because he is in love,
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Learning by Living

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In Love’s Labors Lost, Armado’s exclamation about the boy’s “Sweet smoke of rhetoric” complements the boy’s previous remark about his “penny of observation.” These two metaphors capture Shakespeare’s genius, both to observe and to poetically express human nature. In Love’s Labor’s Lost, the country boy, not the nobility, possesses these qualities.
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Blood and Humanity

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In the Merchant of Venice, the Prince of Morocco’s “And let us make incision for your love To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine,” introduces the theme of superficial differences masking intrinsic similarities, the most intrinsic being that we share a common humanity. It foreshadows Shylock’s “If you prick us, do we not bleed” 
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Pandering, Contempt and the Masses

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Many of Shakespeare’s plays deal with political intrigue at court between political leaders. However, in Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, more than in other plays, the themes address the relationships between political leaders and the masses. Since both plays are set in historic Rome and not in Shakespeare’s England, they can deal with the themes of democracy and the wisdom of the populace to govern themselves through a republican form of representation.
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Income Inequality

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In Coriolanus,  Menenius Agrippa extemporizes on an ancient version of modern day trickle-down economics. In his extended metaphor, Menenius compares the digestive and circulatory systems of the body to the economics of upper-class Romans massing wealth and food for their benefit, which he claims eventually circulates out to the masses for their benefit. The hungry poor are more persuaded by their empty stomachs than by Menenius’s intellectual reasoning and promises.
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Town and Country

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In Cymbeline, Belarius advises his two adoptive sons to embrace the idyllic life in the country rather than the political life at court:

“O, this life
Is nobler than attending for a check;
Richer than doing nothing for a bable;
Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine,
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A Plague and a Scourge

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Mercutio’s curse, “A plague o’ both your houses!” is fulfilled, although not literally. Despite the numerous ways scores of characters die in Shakespeare’s plays, no one in this play or any other Shakespeare play dies of the plague. But the plague is the proximate cause of Romeo’s and Juliet’s deaths.  When Friar Lawrence sends Friar John to deliver a letter to Romeo telling him of Juliet’s fake death,
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Double Cherries and Drops of Water

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In A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Helena’s expression of love as a union that makes a couple one inseparable being —

We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
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Political Rhetoric and the Masses

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Brutus’s tour de force of interwoven rhetorical devices in Julius Caesar (3.2.14) sways the crowd away from their anger at the assassins to cheering them. This speech, however, is outdone by Mark Antony’s masterpiece of manipulation (3.2.82), which whiplashes the crowd back to outrage and riot. But, in fact, Brutus had failed in his speech even before Mark Antony opened his mouth.
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Video: Friends, Romans, Countrymen

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Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in the 1953 film of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar directed by Joseph Mankiewicz.
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