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MonkeyNotes-Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
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Scene 4

Summary

Varro’s servant and the servants of other creditors are waiting for Timon. Titus and Hortensius, Lucius’s servants, are also present. All of them have gathered for the same reason, that is, to collect the money, which Timon owes their masters.

Flaminius, a servant of Timon, enters the scene and they inquire whether Timon is available. They get a negative reply. A little while later they see Flavius the steward and call him to complain about the money. The steward answers that the food Timon was providing for them was equivalent to the interest on the money he owed the creditors. They have no chance of getting their money now that Timon is broke. Flavius argues that they should have approached him when he had the money.

They approach Servilius, another servant of Timon, but to their disappointment Servilius informs them that Timon is ill and is therefore confined to his room. Lucius’ servant rudely says that in such a case he should clear his debts before he dies, so that his path to heaven is clear.

Timon begins to get irritated. He recalls how the house used to be full of guests who enjoyed feasting on his expense. But now, now he is in financial trouble they have all disappeared. Seeing Timon, all the servants hand them the bills from their masters. The angry Timon snatches them not as ‘bills’ but as ‘weapons.’ Then the servants leave.

Timon decides to take revenge against the creditors. He commands his steward to invite Lucius, Lucullus, Sampronius, and the others for another feast. The steward is shocked because he knows that they do not have enough money to have even a small feast. Timon tells Flavius that he and the cook will make all the arrangements for the feast.


Notes

Like vultures, the servants of the creditors hover around Timon. All have come for a single purpose, that is, to get the money, which Timon owes their masters. Hoetensius’ master compels him, hence he comes against his own wishes. Hortensius’ remark, that ingratitude is worse than stealing, is worth noting. This shows that the servants are not as unfeeling as their masters are and have sympathy for Timon. Here one feels that mankind is not all that corrupted. The conversations between the servants expose the ingratitude of their masters. The servants however are helpless, as they have to obey the orders of their masters.

Here the readers see the changes in Timon’s behavior, which is much different from the earlier Timon. He had trusted his friends implicitly and had expected them to come to his assistance in his time of need. The friends however refuse to help him on some pretext or the other. He is very hurt, as his dream of human fellowship is destroyed. He is also very angry and therefore when the bustle of servants’ clamor for their money, he cries out ‘cut my heart in sums,’ ‘tell out my blood.’

When Timon tells the steward to invite the lords again for a feast, the steward is very surprised. The steward knows that they have nothing to offer to the guests and wonders whether Timon is setting himself up for another fall. But Timon is a different man now. He now understands the true character of his so called friends. He is organizing the feast for having his revenge on these ungrateful people. He wants to take this opportunity to give these people exactly what they deserve.

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