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MonkeyNotes-Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare
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Scene 5

Summary

The scene opens with the conversation between the Senator and Alcibiades. Alcibiades’ friend had killed an enemy. The Senators are discussing what punishment should be given for the crime. The Senators feel he should be sentenced to death, for nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy, and he who kills his own blood cannot be spared. Alcibiades pleads for his friend’s life. The Senators disagree with Alcibiades saying that he is trying to make a crime look noble. The Senators finally come to a very unjust decision. They not only feel that the Alcibiades’ friend should be punished for his crime but that Alcibiades should be sent on a exile for supporting a wrong cause. When left alone Alcibiades curses Athens and the Senators. Alcibiades decides to take revenge on the Senators.


Notes

This scene is a contrast between the ways in which Alcibiades and Timon, both men of honor, face the wrongs done to them. Some critics claim that there is no clear link between the story of the two. Alcibiades, like Timon, faces the ingratitude of man. He pleads with the Senators to have pity on his friend who is a virtuous man. He tells the Senators that his friend has done something against the law and killed the man because the man had ‘touched’ his reputation. Alcibiades tries to convince the Senators that his friend was not carried away by his passion. His action was not quite reasonable and anyone in his place would have done the same. The Senators seem to have no pity and are ready to brutally exercise their powers against Alcibiades. The reader finds that there exists a conflict between rigid control and passionate action between the young and the old. The young generation is seen as hot blooded and revengeful whereas the elders condemn it. The dramatist has given each of them, that is, Timon and Alcibiades, justifiable reason for resentment against a state, which is ungrateful and corrupt.

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