Two Gentlemen of Verona–Acts IV and V

Sorry I dropped the ball yesterday. I had half an entry written when I realized, “I’m going to be late for work.” That’s not a fun feeling.

Guthrie Theater Two Gentlemen of Verona

Regardless, I wasn’t expecting Valentine to become Robin Hood. I assumed he would meet Julia in the woods, or something to that effect, and they would somehow get back at Proteus. Remember, kids, don’t assume–or do, and you will always find yourself surprised.

After the dialogue between Julia-as-boy and Silvia, I would also like to recant my statement about the women in this play being weak. Silvia takes no malarkey from anyone, especially Proteus, so his plan falls to utter pieces right in front of him. I also love that Silvia has a large amount of sympathy for Julia, despite never meeting her. (None of this is actually insightful, but I want to make sure I’ve stated that I was wrong and why.)

So, we have a comedy, where everything gets tied up nicely into a little pink bow at the end. And this happens by way of Proteus’ penance–which at first, I was super skeptical if he was actual repentant, but after reading over the last scene again, I realized he was suffering from his own actions. “My shame and guilt confounds me./Forgive me, Valentine: if hearty sorrow/Be sufficient ransom for offence,/I tender’s here; I do as truly suffer,/As e’er I did commit” (V.iv.73-77). Proteus’ actions are the cause of his suffering now, and Valentine–what a hunk–is quick to forgive his offences, taking delight in the forgiving. A play about forgiveness and love? Hmmm…

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The final point I would like to make regards the contrast between the court and the woods. Take two gentlemen into the woods, and their true colors are revealed. Proteus almost violates Silvia when he enters the woods, repents, and is forgiven. The Duke is able to see the true color of Thurio and the valor of Valentine when the decorum is shed and they’re in a world outside their own. The love of Valentine and Silvia are reunited. Proteus sees Julia for what she is, a constant and steadfast lover. The forest reveals all.

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Two Gentlemen of Verona–Act III

I’ve been reading Proteus as a kind of naive boy, until this act. His plan is cunning, almost meticulous, and while first I was rooting for him, I’m now a little taken aback how he’s more like an Iago than a Romeo. That said, we shall never know his true character until the end (if we can ever really know a character with the name Proteus).

I just want to briefly point out the obvious–everyone in this play acts as an “expert on love” and I truly hope that by the end of the play, they’re all proven wrong to some degree or another.

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I mainly want to focus on Launce and Speed’s conversation after Valentine’s banishment. Firstly, the letter that sums up the virtues and vices of a lady seems to come at an odd point in the action. Juxtaposed with the fervent star worshiping “omgosh she’s cute” that we get from Proteus and Valentine, this kind of list and tally that sums up a woman seems to be the foil to the high romance of the two gentlemen. High romance that involves wispy and heavenly images and language meets the bare bone looking at how a woman behaves and whether or not she’s worth pursuit.

Perhaps I like Launce’s way of looking at love than Proteus and Valentine, simply because after seeing the two women in this play, I’m just not impressed that they deserve all this doting. Of the Shakespeare comedies I’ve read, his woman are usually fierce, bold and intelligent women–however, this play, they seem kind of flat. I can only imagine that whenever they are cast, they have to be really good looking women, or else all the doting doesn’t make sense.

Also, “She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults,” (III.i.346-347) is just a great sum up of a woman (not all women, but the kind of woman for a man like Launce).

Two Gentlemen of Verona–Act II

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Ahh, and Proteus lives up to his name.

Interesting that Proteus leaves Verona and what Valentine says comes into fruition, while when Valentine leaves, he finds himself in the same position as Proteus before leaving. Not to mention, that Valentine upholds Proteus as a fine gentleman when describing him to the Duke, while he chides him at home that he is not fine because Proteus does not wish to refine himself.

And thus far, love is blind, jealous, mute, a cheat, a fire, etc. The only one who goes without feeling is Crab. Who names their dog Crab?

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It’s a little early to tell how things will work out–this act builds more than the first–but I think it will either wind up being humorous, or downright awkward. Also, I just want to note the parallel scenes with the servants, Speed and Launce, as a possible foil to the relationship that is about to change between Proteus and Valentine.

I have little to say and much to do. Until tomorrow.

 

Two Gentlemen of Verona–Act I

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When I begin a play, and the first two characters are named “Proteus” and “Valentine,” my inner love for allusions gets so excited. Firstly, I love that the two friends that open the play have names that derive from two different Mediterranean languages and mythologies–Proteus, like the old man in the sea of Greek mythology versus Valentine, Latin root and the name of a well known saint in the Roman Church–because I love the rubbing up of ancient Greek and Christendom Rome.

Secondly, when you hear “Proteus” you think of something being protean–ever changing. Yet, he seems, from this first act, to be a fairly rooted character, since he doesn’t desire to leave his homeland because of his love for Julia. Julia resembles more of a protean character, judging by her interactions with her maid.

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I have never read the play before, but I’m venturing to guess that Proteus does actually leave, given by the genitive in the title “of Verona.”