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Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of Verona (an Early Comedy)

In Verona, Proteus and Valentine (the two gentleman of Verona) discuss the qualitites of love. Valentine announces he is leaving for Milan. Separately, Valentine's servant Speed reports to Proteus that his love Julia gave no response to his letter to her. At Julia's house, her servant Lucetta givers her Proteus' letter, which Lucetta had hid from Julia. Although Julia tears it up and refuses to read it, she eventually pieces it together and shows her desire for Proteus. At Antonio's house (Proteus' father) Antonio and his servant Panthino discuss that it is time to gt Proteus out of the house; they decide he should go to the court of the Duke of Milan (where Valentine is). Antonio informs Proteus he is to leave the next day, surprising and depressing him.

In Milan, we learn Valentine and Silvia are in love, while Speed continues to jest and chide his master over the matter. Back in Verona, Proteus and Julia exchange rings and have a tearful goodbye. Proteus' servant Launce also prepares to leave, as he and his dog are to accompany Proteus. In Milan again, Thurio and Valentine trade witticisms as both woo Silvia, though she obviously loves Valentine, while her father, the Duke of Milan prefers Thurio. The Duke then announces that Proteus has arrived from Verona. All meet him, and Proteus immediately "falls in love" with Silvia, instantly forgetting his promised love to Julia. Valentine tells Proteus he is in love with her, but Proteus hides his feelings for her, actually questioning the appropriateness of his new emotions in private. In a street, Speed meets Launce and his dog and they trade witticisms. Alone, Proteus agonizes over his new love. He decides to forget Julia and to pursue Silvia. In order to get rid of Valentine, he plans to inform the Duke of Valentine and Silvia's plans to elope that night, hoping to get Valentine banished and create a less obstructed path to Silvia. Back in Verona, Julia tells Lucetta of her plans to travel to Milan, disguised as a male page. They immediately start packing.

Back in Milan, Proteus informs the Duke of Valentine's plans. Separately, the Duke encounters Valentine on his way to Silvia's room. He coyly reveals Valentine's plot by pretending himself to be in love with an unattainable woman. Upon discovering a letter of intent and a rope ladder on Valentine, the Duke banishes him from Milan. Proteus and Launce come across him. Proteus wishes him well and promises that he can write letters for Silvia and address them to Proteus, and he'll deliver them. They leave and Launce reveals he's starting to think Proteus is using Valentine to get to Silvia. Speed meets Launce and they again joke around as Speed reads a love letter describing Launce's new love for a milkmaid. At the Duke's palace, he and Thurio explain to Proteus how depressed and sullen Silvia is. Proteus states that he will try to cheer her up by slandering Valentine and praising Thurio, to which the Duke agrees.

In the forest between Milan and Verona, several outlaws ambush Valentine and Speed on their way back to Verona. Upon hearing Valentine is banished from Milan (he says for killing a man), they ask him to join them in crime and become their commander, or die. Of course, he joins. Back in Milan, Proteus reveals that his wooing of Silvia is going poorly, since she constantly scolds him for foreswearing both Valentine and Julia. This causes Proteus to love Silvia even more. Thurio appears with musicians to play beneath Silvia's window. In hiding, Julia appears disguised as a boy and sees her love Proteus singing love verses to Silvia, causing her to become extremely depressed. Her host tells her he has heard from Launce that Proteus is deeply in love with Silvia. Julia then overhears Proteus yet again give praises of love to Silvia, but she again curses him for being false to Julia and Valentine. Proteus tells her they are dead, but she will not be moved. In defeat, he asks for a picture of her that he may be with her through it. Reluctantly, she promises to give it to him. Julia heads to bed in tears. At Silvia's room, she meets sir Eglamour and asks him to accompany her through the forest on a journey to Verona to seek out Valentine; he agrees and they will meet at Friar Patrick's cell the next evening. Separately, Launce relays that he tried to give Silvia the dog Proteus sent to her, but the hangman's boys stole the dog, so he presented his own log (Crab) to her. She, of course, refused it and sent Launce away. Proteus learns of this and, in anger, sends Launce to try again. Proteus then speaks with Julia, disguised as a servant named Sebastian. He gives her his ring (given to him by her) to give to Silvia. He leaves and Julia approaches Silvia. Julia gives her a letter from Proteus and the ring, but Silvia will not accept either, explaining she will not hurt Julia anymore than Proteus already has betrayed her. Julia (as Sebastian) begins to weep and tells Silvia it is for Julia's loss. Silvia gives Julia her picture for Proteus, and some money to be given to Julia. Alone, Julia vows to stay loyal to Proteus, since she still loves him, and she will try to sway his love back toward her.

At the abbey in Milan, Eglamour meets Silvia and they head for the forest. At the palace, Proteus tells Thurio he cannot sway Silvia's love to favor him. The Duke appears and declares Silvia is fled with Eglamour to Mantua (he knows this since he had spies trailing them); all pursue. In the forest, the outlaws capture Silvia while Eglamour flees with more outlaws in pursuit of him. They leave to bring her to Valentine. Separately, Valentine ponders his solitude when Proteus, Julia (as Sebastian), and Silvia appear, Proteus having rescued Silvia from the outlaws. Valentine hides and overhears Silvia continue to curse Proteus, even though he rescued her. Proteus swears he'll force her to love him, but Valentine appears and rescues Silvia from him. Proteus, in shame, asks Valentine's forgiveness and he grants it. Julia reveals herself and Proteus newly finds his love for her and promises himself to her. The outlaws appear with the Duke and Thurio as their prisoners. Thurio, in fear of Valentine, withdraws his suit for Silvia's hand. The Duke, seeing Thurio is a coward declares Valentine is forgiven and may have Silvia. Valentine rejoices and asks the Duke to also forgive all the outlaws and cancel their banishment. This too, the duke agrees to. All rejoice and return to Milan, Valentine and Silvia planning to marry alongside Proteus and Julia.

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Recent Forum Posts on Two Gentlemen of Verona

Item, She is not to be kiss'd fasting, in respect of her breath.

This line: Item, She is not to be kiss'd fasting, in respect of her breath. has been edited. Originally it was: Item, She is not to be fasting, in respect of her breath. The 1841 Edition of Shakespeare's plays, edited by Malone, included this remark (made by Steevens) in the footnote about the line: She is not to be kiss'd fasting,] The old copy reads, she is not to be fasting, &c. The necessary word, kiss'd, was first added by Mr. Rowe. Steevens. I think another correction is needed in addition to the added word. While I understand that the meaning of the line is she should not be kissed because of bad breath, the way the line stands now corrupts and obscures the pathway to that meaning. One says, well it doesn't make sense, but I know what he meant. However, by placing the comma before 'fasting', instead of after, the line makes sense: Item, She is not to be kiss'd, fasting in respect of her breath. In other words fasting from kissing her because of her bad breath. Another thing about this line that I haven't read in any of the footnotes about TGOV is the play on words: fasting and breath in Speed's line with the follow up line by Launce: Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast: Read on. breakfast (breathfast). Perhaps the play on words is so obvious that it doesn't deserve mention. But the comma move? This has really not been proposed by any Shakespearian scholar? The Riverside Collection does includes the added word 'kiss'd in brackets, but leaves the comma in place. But Norton gets downright radical: Item, she is not to be broken with fasting, in respect of her breath. Whoa.

Regarding Comments About The Ending

Since the comments I'm responding to are from members who don't seem to be active any longer, I decided to start a new thread on how this play ends, and the point of the play in general. I'm still reading Two Gentlemen of Verona, but I'm aware of its slapstick ending. The two earlier comments: Proteus is shallow, and the women are too forgiving. I agree with both these comments, but I think that that was Shakespeare's intention. Consider this, if you were a 'Lady' or a 'Gentleman' of the late 16th or early 17th century, how would you feel about being so portrayed? If I thought of my self so self-importantly as the gentry apparently did, I'd be downright indignant and feel quite insulted. Even the servants of such high and mighty folks, who feel as though they have privileged positions in their own right, would feel put upon by Lance's and Speed's imbecilic antics. And there are scenes that would absolutely outrage the cultivated senses of that period's Ladies. The scene that depicts the letter exchange between Julia and Lucetta is outrageously bold, because there are clues enough to determine what Proteus's letter is actual a metaphor for (along with the hintful associations that come to mind with Shakespeare's use of the words: modesty, broker, wanton, youth, and last but not least, office). And to cap that scene off, once Julia is alone, Shakespeare rips away her veneer of modesty by having her pick up the letter and treating it as if it were something precious. Remember who Shakespeare's audience for this play most likely consisted of. His audience for this play was most likely made up of the common folk, people of the lower echelon who saved up their pennies to sit in the playhouses or stand as groundlings in front of the stage. This play mocks their betters, and the audience probably loved it. The women in that audience must have been howling with derisive laughter during that letter scene. The fickleness of the men, the degradation of the women by their lovers and by themselves, the ridiculous slapstick finish, all gave the audience a chance to laugh at the people who ruled the world. If a main point was to mock the upper crust of society, then the ending was perfect. I wouldn't be surprised if this play never saw the inside of any nobleman's, or Lord's (as they were called) court.

Two Gentlemen of Vaudeville

I'm admittedly not a big fan of this particular play, since its ending is so weak and unbelievable. Why would the women so quickly forgive the traitorous Proteus, esp. after he threatened to rape Sylvia? But this weekend I saw a surprisingly good adaptation of it at the Shakespeare festival in Stratford, Ontario (which is still playing, by the way). This production set the play in a 1920s setting: Sylvia is a flapper/actress, Speed and Launce are largely vaudevillian clown figures, the Duke is a theater impresario, the outlaws are gangsters dressed in snappy suits and bowler hats. The play is framed and interspersed with video scenes of silent black-and-white clips. There are songs, some slapstick, and an iconic chase scene. The production even had the cheekiness to insert a scene in which Sylvia and Thurio (both actors) perform the final scene from Othello in an absurdly melodramatic (and thus hysterical) fashion! (Incidentally, the scene-stealer was Crab the dog, who was played by the most inert basset hound on the face of the planet. Adorable!) However, the cleverest bit - for me - was the tone of the ending. Because the rest of the play was so over-the-top, it felt like a parody. Thus, the ending felt a little more acceptable, since the production was so frivolous. I felt more accepting of the resolution because it seemed that the main point was to resolve the action happily. I'd recommend this production to anyone whose been a skeptic of this play. NB: If anyone is in the Stratford area soon, I urge you to go see the Tempest. Christopher Plummer is playing Prospero! It was a phenomenal production!

WHO IS SILVIA Interpretation

What does this phrase mean exactly??? Love doth to her eyes repair, to help him of his blindness, And, being help'd, inhabits there. HERE'S THE COMPLETE SONG: Who is Silvia? what is she, That all our swains commend her? Holy, fair and wise is she; The heaven such grace did lend her, that she might admired be. Is she kind as she is fair? For beauty lives with kindness. Love doth to her eyes repair, to help him of his blindness, And, being help'd, inhabits there. Then to Silvia let us sing, that Silvia is excelling; She excels each mortal thing upon the dull earth dwelling: To her let us garlands bring.

Directing this, any ideas?

Have never directed anything before and am submitting a proposal to direct Two Gentlemen of Verona for the York Shakespeare project. Im thinking about setting it in the 1920's but the budget will be very tight. We just did R+J and there were a lot of talented actors in that so I'm hoping to have some talent to play with. If anyone has any ideas or experience that they would like to share it would be gratefully recieved!

...ahhh Proteus!

I just read a comment wherein the author submits that the character of Proteus lacks depth
demonstrated by his speedy recovery from a romancing of Sylvia. Let us remeber that (pardon the cliche) a play is merely the "blueprint" for the art of Theatre. Are there no men out there whimsically jaunting from romance to romance...pants to pants? Especially those with less years behind them. Consider Proteus a young, earnest (in his acknowlegement of his weaknesses) "player". He is the the boy we love to hate...full of charisma, energy and, yes...himself! The playwright allows us an imagination...there's the depth.



The Schubert leid "An Sylvia" uses the song in Act 3 Scene 4.
This song, D. 891, is one of the best known Schubert songs. The text
is German, but the literal translation from the Dover Books Score
"Fifty Nine Favorite Schubert Songs" is close to the Shakesphere.

The name "Sylvia" comes from the early Roman god of the
woodcutter and plowman, Sylvanus. The name is spelled "Silvia" in

No Subject

proteus is shallow. he got over julia quickly, of course he would get over sylvia quickly.

No Subject

I'm currently trying to write a 2500 essaay on Two gentlemen of Verona and my copy of Norton's anthology didn't have the book I hoped it did. So I went looking for an online copy and pleasantly happy to find not only a copy of this but a whole resource on Shakespeare. I'll post my essay if it's okay, after I've had it marked and returned.

A few points about the play, Shakespeare was always keen on themes of identity and it's been shown in many other of his works, such as Taming of the Shrew where everyone had a second identity.

The hero and heroine is never clear, in Two Gentlemen one would assume Proteus and Silvia to be it, but in actual fact it's clear the Heroine is Julia.

Shakespeare actually wrote this as his first playa nd the ending is very rushed, a whole four acts were spent on the build up and one act on a busy and anti-climactic conclusion.

Shakespeares first attempt at playwriting in the big time, also brought iwth it use of Petrarchism, known as "comapring to venus" etc. This was the style at the time.

Just a few thoughts...anyway... back to my essay.


No Subject

I do not think that Proteus should have gotten over Sylvia so quickly. It makes him seem almost shallow. There is also the fact that after seeing Proteus declare his love for Sylvia, Julia is willing to believe that he can just fall in love with her and it be the real thing. I think that Shakespeare may have ended the play rather abruptly.

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