There are other theories regarding this final scene, however. For example, in his edition of the play for the New Cambridge Shakespeare , Kurt Schlueter suggests that Valentine is indeed handing Silvia over to Proteus, but the audience is not supposed to take it literally; the incident is farcical , and should be interpreted as such. Schlueter argues that the play provides possible evidence it was written to be performed and viewed primarily by a young audience, and as such, to be staged at university theatres, as opposed to public playhouses.
Such an audience would be more predisposed to accepting the farcical nature of the scene, and more likely to find humorous the absurdity of Valentine's gift. As such, in Schlueter's theory, the scene does represent what it appears to represent; Valentine does give Silvia to her would-be rapist, but it is done purely for comic effect.
Another theory is provided by William C. Carroll in his edition for the Arden Shakespeare , Third Series. Carroll argues, like Schlueter, that Valentine is indeed giving Silvia to Proteus, but unlike Schlueter, Carroll detects no sense of farce. Instead, he sees the action as a perfectly logical one in terms of the notions of friendship which were prevalent at the time:.
The offer of the woman from one male friend to another would therefore be the highest expression of friendship from one point of view, a low point of psycho-sexual regression from another. As in Schlueter, Carroll here interprets Valentine's actions as a gift to Proteus, but unlike Schlueter, and more in line with traditional criticism of the play, Carroll also argues that such a gift, as unacceptable as it is to modern eyes, is perfectly understandable when one considers the cultural and social milieu of the play itself.
Language is of primary importance in the play insofar as Valentine and Proteus speak in blank verse , but Launce and Speed speak for the most part in prose. This is most apparent in Act 3, Scene 1. However, when Launce enters only a few lines later, he announces that he too is in love, and proceeds to outline, along with Speed, all of his betrothed's positives "She brews good ale "; "She can knit "; "She can wash and scour" , and negatives "She hath a sweet mouth"; "She doth talk in her sleep"; "She is slow in words".
After weighing his options, Launce decides that the woman's most important quality is that "she hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults" ll. He announces that her wealth "makes the faults gracious" l.
This purely materialistic reasoning, as revealed in the form of language, is in stark contrast to the more spiritual and idealised love espoused by Valentine earlier in the scene. One of the dominant theories as regards the value of Two Gentlemen is that thematically, it represents a 'trial run' of sorts, in which Shakespeare deals briefly with themes which he would examine in more detail in later works.
Chambers , for example, believed that the play represents something of a gestation of Shakespeare's great thematic concerns. Writing in , Chambers stated that Two Gentlemen. Something which is neither quite tragedy nor quite comedy, something which touches the heights and depths of sentiment and reveals the dark places of the human heart without lingering long enough there to crystallise the painful impression, a love story broken for a moment into passionate chords by absence and inconstancy and intrigue, and then reunited to the music of wedding bells.
As such, the play's primary interest for critics has tended to lie in relation to what it reveals about Shakespeare's conception of certain themes before he became the accomplished playwright of later years. Writing in , A. Swinburne , for example, states "here is the first dawn of that higher and more tender humour that was never given in such perfection to any man as ultimately to Shakespeare.
Bond writes "Shakespeare first opens the vein he worked so richly afterwards — the vein of crossed love, of flight and exile under the escort of the generous sentiments; of disguised heroines, and sufferings endured and virtues exhibited under their disguise; and of the Providence , kinder than life, that annuls the errors and forgives the sin. Other critics have been less kind however, arguing that if the later plays show a skilled and confident writer exploring serious issues of the human heart, Two Gentlemen represents the initial, primarily unsuccessful attempt to do likewise.
In , for example, J. Dover Wilson and Arthur Quiller-Couch , in their edition of the play for the Cambridge Shakespeare, famously stated that after hearing Valentine offer Silvia to Proteus "one's impulse, upon this declaration, is to remark that there are, by this time, no gentlemen in Verona.
Charlton, writing in , argues that "clearly, Shakespeare's first attempt to make romantic comedy had only succeeded so far as it had unexpectedly and inadvertently made romance comic.
It stands as an ' anatomie ' or show-through version, as it were, of Shakespeare's comic art. He suggests that when looking at Shakespeare's earlier works, scholars put too much emphasis on how they fail to measure up to the later works, rather than looking at them for their own intrinsic merits; "we should not continue the practice of holding his later achievements against him when dealing with his early beginnings.
Norman Sanders calls the play "almost a complete anthology of the practices of the doctrine of romantic love which inspired the poetic and prose Romances of the period. Carroll points out, this is a common theme in Renaissance literature , which often celebrates friendship as the more important relationship because it is pure and unconcerned with sexual attraction , and contends that love and friendship cannot co-exist.
But a love between two men is something that you choose. You have arranged marriages, [but] a friendship between two men is created by the desires and wills of those two men, whereas a relationship between a man and a girl is actually constructed completely peripheral to whatever the feelings of the said boy and girl are.
Carroll sees this societal belief as vital in interpreting the final scene of the play, arguing that Valentine does give Silvia to Proteus, and in so doing, he is merely acting in accordance with the practices of the day. Love and friendship are shown to be co-existent, not exclusive. Another major theme is the foolishness of lovers, what Roger Warren refers to as "mockery of the absurdity of conventional lovers' behaviour. The majority of the cynicism and mockery as regards conventional lovers, however, comes from Launce and Speed, who serve as foils for the two protagonists, and "supply a mundane view of the idealistic flights of fancy indulged in by Proteus and Valentine.
O exceeding puppet! Now he will interpret her. Here's a million of manners. A third major theme is inconstancy, particularly as manifested in Proteus,  whose very name hints at his changeable mind in Ovid 's Metamorphoses , Proteus is a sea-god forever changing its shape .
At the start of the play, Proteus has only eyes for Julia. However, upon meeting Silvia, he immediately falls in love with her although he has no idea why. He then finds himself drawn to the page Sebastian Julia in disguise whilst still trying to woo Silvia, and at the end of the play, he announces that Silvia is no better than Julia and vows he now loves Julia again. There is no record of a performance during Shakespeare's lifetime, although due to its inclusion in Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia , we know the play had definitely been performed by However, this production was of a version of the play rewritten by Benjamin Victor.
From the middle of the eighteenth century, even if staging Shakespeare's original as opposed to Victor's rewrite it was common to cut the lines in the final scene where Valentine seems to offer Silvia to Proteus. This practice prevailed until William Macready reintroduced the lines in in a production at Drury Lane,  although they were still being removed as late as , in Denis Carey 's production at the Bristol Old Vic.
During the twentieth century, the play has been produced sporadically in the English-speaking world, although it has proved more popular in Europe. In this production, set in late nineteenth-century Italy and grounded very much in high Romanticism , Proteus threatens to kill himself with a pistol at the end of the play, prompting Valentine's hasty offer of Silvia. Perhaps the most notable 20th-century production was Peter Hall 's production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This production concentrated on the issues of friendship and treachery, and set the play in a decadent world of social elitism.
Valentine and Proteus were presented as aristocratic students, the Duke was a Don , and Eglamour an old scout master. On the other hand, the poverty-stricken outlaws were dressed in animal skins. This production saw the actors not involved in the current on-stage scene sit at the front of the stage and watch the performance. In , Thacker's production moved to the Barbican Centre , and in went on regional tour. This production set the play in a grimy unnamed contemporary city where material obsession was all-encompassing.
Buffini set the play in a swinging s milieu , and featuring numerous dance numbers. Additionally, London and New York replaced Verona and Milan; initially, Valentine and Proteus are shown as living in the English countryside, in a rural paradise devoid of any real vitality, the sons of wealthy families who have retired from the city.
When Valentine leaves, he heads to New York to pursue the American Dream and falls in love with Silvia, the famous actress daughter of a powerful media magnate. Another change to the play was that the roles of the outlaws represented here as a group of paparazzi were increased considerably. Scenes added to the play show them arriving in New York and going about their daily business, although none of the new scenes featured any dialogue.
The production was spoken in Portuguese, with the original English text projected as surtitles onto the back of the stage. It also featured two year-olds in the roles of Valentine and Proteus usually, actors in their 20s are cast , and Crab was played not by a dog, but by a human actor in a dog costume. Staged as a s live television production, large black-and-white monitors were set on either side of the stage, with cameras feeding the action to them. Additionally, period advertisements appeared both before the show and during the intermission.
The actors spoke the original dialogue, but wore s clothing. Rock and roll music and dance sequences were occasionally mixed with the action. In , Laura Cole directed a production at the Shakespeare Tavern. Even if we keep in mind that in the times of Shakespeare the sexist attitude and portraying of love as something that drives men insane were taken as granted, the undertones of The Two Gentlemen of Verona main themes are closer to the tragedies by William Shakespeare than to his comedies.
The side characters are also deep and meaningful. Some of them have their own dramatic backstories, others are just people with their own agenda, but they serve not only as plot devices and theatre decoration, but as individual human beings with their own joys and sorrows, whose paths just accidentally crossed the main storyline.
They are adult people — sometimes more adult than the ones they serve to — with their personal opinions. We prepared a brief analysis of the main The Two Gentlemen of Verona themes for you. Read them through and decide for yourself: is this play by William Shakespeare as funny as his audience considered it to be.
Usually Shakespeare praises love above all: some of the critics even consider that Valentine and Silvia from The Two Gentlemen of Verona became the prototypes of Romeo and Juliet — the tragedy that took place in the same city of Verona. But in this play love is shown as a dangerous feeling that makes people men especially forget about their bonds of friendship and turn into lovesick madmen and fools.
Proteus trying to rape Silvia — the beloved of his best friend — is easily forgiven, his actions are considered justified by his all-consuming love. Sounds pretty horrible for the modern audience. In this book Shakespeare tends to praise the friendship between men more, returning to the ancient Greek ideals and beliefs that women are a great distraction from the most important virtues.
Love in this novel is shown more as a destructive feeling for men — and surprisingly motivating feeling for women. Only because of love Julia disguises as a man and risks everything to go after her Proteus. Love makes her reckless enough to risk her life in the forest full of thugs. Silvia, surprisingly, follows her steps, running from Proteus to pursue her beloved Valentine in the same dangerous forest.
Love can be selfish or selfless in this play, but it is definitely a very powerful feeling that can negate anything: from the best friendship to the instinct of self-preservation. The novel starts from the tearful farewell of the two best friends forever, Valentine and Proteus. This is the first well-known and described case of bromance in the literature, with all the comedic issues that are widely used in modern bromantic comedies. What we understand is that Proteus is torn apart by the equally strong feelings to Valentine and Julia and this gives us a hint that the conflict between bromance and romance will become the main plot drive later.
All his love affairs are easily forgiven by Julia whom he left and by Silvia whom he nearly raped , but the tearful scene of him begging the pardon of his best friend Valentine is emphasized. Romantic love is definitely downplayed in his case. He is incredibly glad to see his friend, and there are no doubts that his feelings to Proteus are equally strong, but for him his love to Silvia now means much more. Could you have misspelled the name? There is a servant by the name of Lucetta.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. Remember me. Thou for wages followest thy master; thy master for wages follows not thee. Therefore thou art a sheep. I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her, a laced mutton, and she, a laced mutton, gave me, a lost mutton, nothing for my labor.
What said she? In requital whereof, henceforth carry your letters yourself. I must go send some better messenger. I fear my Julia would not deign my lines, Receiving them from such a worthless post. Proteus brings Speed up to speed on Valentine's departure and then the two engage in a silly conversation that basically boils down to "You're a sheep. Proteus wants to know if Speed delivered his love letter to the luscious Julia and then Speed tells a dirty joke that involves, you guessed it, sheep.
After an amusing and slightly exasperating comic routine, Speed shakes down Proteus for some money and finally says that, yes, he delivered the letter to Julia. Proteus is bummed to hear that Julia didn't get all excited when Speed delivered the letter and he reasons that she must have been put off by the annoying messenger that would be Speed.
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