The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Shakespeare: the funny bits

Of the plays I’ve read so far, the Henry VIs have too many characters named after counties swapping sides every other scene; Richard III is a series of brilliant monologues strung through a chronicle; and The Comedy of Errors is really just stupid. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is the first which I can imagine actually working as a play without drastic cuts. Except maybe for the following scene.

Act V, Scene 4: Another part of the forest. Valentine
is hanging out and acting like the least frightening
bandit in all of Italy.
Enter Proteus and Silvia.

(Also enter Julia dressed as a boy, but I’m not going
to get into that in this post.)

Pro. Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
I’ll woo you like a soldier, at arms’ end,
And love you ‘gainst the nature of love- force ye.
Sil. O Heaven!
Pro. I’ll force thee yield to my desire.
Val. Ruffian! let go that rude uncivil touch;
Thou friend of an ill fashion!

[EIGHTEEN LINES in which Proteus says SORRY]

Val. Who by repentance is not satisfied
Is nor of heaven nor of earth, for these are pleas’d;
By penitence th’Eternal wrath’s appeas’d.
And, that my love may appear plain and free,
All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.
Pro. Sweet.
Sil. Excuse me? Um…
You do know what that “soldier” business meant?


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