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MonkeyNotes-Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
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Notes

The play opens with a passage in the pattern of the first scene of Anthony and Cleopatra. This scene forms the exposition of the play. It not only introduces the reader to the main character of the play, that is Timon, but also indicates the source of tragedy in the play. Alcibiades, the main character of the subplot, as well as the other important characters, make their entry in the opening scene of the play.

The minor characters discuss the shortcomings of Timon. The poet, painter, jeweler, and merchant are the first to appear. Each of these individuals wants to sell their articles to Timon because they know that Timon will pay more for them than any other person. The opening scene is the most obvious pointer to the meaning of the play. If the readers understand this scene well then they will be able to sense what is going to happen later.

Timonís generosity and concern is seen in his attitude towards Ventidius who is in trouble. Timon not only pays off the debts, but offers him more money if he needs it. The readers see another instance of Timonís generosity, when he comes to the assistance of his servant Lucilius, by deciding to give him wealth equal to the dowry that will be given by the father of the girl that Lucilius wants to marry. These two incidents highlight Timonís generosity and also his reckless way of spending his wealth.


The ingratitude of Timonís friends can be felt through the narrative description, which prepares the audience for the main action. One notices that Timon does not discriminate in his choice of friends. He does not realize that, it is his wealth, which attracts his friends. As long as he is very generous Timonís well wishers will find his nature good and be with him. Timonís court is seen to be a reflection of the "world." A world dominated by the poetís parable. The only person who understands the hypocrisy of Timonís friends is Apemantus. He condemns the guests and calls them "knavesí and ĎTimonís dog,í which is proved to be true later in the play. He points out that the painter is fouler than any man he can paint and that the poet is only pretending to be Timonís well wiser. Apemantus therefore does not mince words in criticizing the wrong doers. He refuses to dine for he feels the audience gathered have evil desire and are unfit to be accompanied. He also adds, "No; I eat no Lords." By making this remark, he compares the people around Timon to parasites - parasites, which survive by feeding on their host. This means that the people around Timon have come here for one purpose only, that is, to profit at Timonís expense. He compares man to animals like, "monkey and baboon." Animal imagery therefore is present right from the opening scene of the play.

Timonís so called Ďfriends are prepared to give cause they know they will receive more in return. Those who readily follow Timon in his moment of exaltation will follow the shift and change of his mood and finally abandon him in his fall.

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