Character Sketch of Gratiano in Merchant of Venice

Gratiano Merchant of Venice | Merchant of Venice Characters Gratiano

Character Sketch of Gratiano in Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice Workbook Answers


  • a minor character
  • joyful and lively
  • pretends to be a philosopher
  • very talkative
  • restrained in Belmont
  • a faithful friend and husband

Gratiano – A Minor Character
Gratiano is a joyful, sprightly person. He is a minor character in the play. But he plays a significant role in relieving the gloom and the gravity of the situation. In the words of K. Deighton “he is a very admirable subordinate character. He is the jester of the piece.” He is, of course, not one of those characters who help to move the action forward.

Gratiano – Joyful and Lively
He is not in any way a thinker, though he pretends or tries to sound philosophical at times. His only aim in life is to enjoy and make others laugh and enjoy. He says :

“Let me play the fool;
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”

He makes fun of Antonio who looks sad all the time. He says that there are men who maintain a deliberate silence to earn the reputation of being wise, serious and philosophical.

Gratiano – Talkative by Nature
He is very talkative. In company he often monopolizes conversation. Lorenzo confesses that when he is with Gatiano, he seldom gets an opportunity to put in a word. Most of his friends berate him for his talkativeness. Bassanio, his good friend, says that his speech consists of about two grains of good sense hidden in two bushels of nonsense. One may search all day till one finds them, and when the grains are found they turn out to be unworthy of the search.

One finds a different Gratiano in Belmont. Perhaps it is on Bassanio’s advice that he learns to be discreet. He employs his open and witty nature to win the equally vivacious Nerissa.

Gratiano – A faithful friend and husband
He proves to be a faithful friend and husband. He accompanies Bassanio wherever he goes. He is always ready to condemn the cruel Jew to defend good Antonio. His parody of the Jew’s language and style is most effective. In the ring episode he feels embarrassed but is able to put his case frankly and boldly.

In short, he is the genial, humorous being without whom no company is complete. He has his own faults but his open and friendly nature covers them all.

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