Valentine and Proteus are two young gentlemen living in the Italian city of Verona (the same city where Romeo and Juliet lived). They are both close and loyal friends – at first. Proteus is in love with a girl named Julia who lives in town. Meanwhile, Valentine goes away to Milan to serve the duke there, and fall in love with his daughter, Silvia.
Being sent by his father, Proteus finds himself with his friend again in Milan. There the young man falls in love with Silvia too. He devises a plan to get rid of his competitors: Valentine, and another man named Thurio. Proteus tells the Duke that Valentine is planning to take Silvia away, and the poor man is banished shortly after.
|Valentine Rescues Silvia in 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona' |
by Angelica Kaufmann
Silvia is not impressed. She abhors Proteus' betrayal and infidelity, and she openly says so to both Proteus and his new servant, Sebastian. Wait, why does Sebastian look very much like Julia? Silvia then goes away to Mantua to look for her lover in his exile. Proteus goes after her and tries to rape her. But Valentine interferes.
At the end, everyone's happy. That's why we call it a comedy.
But as I said before, I'm much more impressed by the witty comical scenes featuring the two clowns, Speed and Launce. Here are some of them:
SPEED. How now, Signior Launce! What news with your mastership?
LAUNCE. With my master's ship? Why, it is at sea.
SPEED. Well, your old vice still: mistake the word. What news, then, in your paper?
LAUNCE. The black'st news that ever thou heard'st.
SPEED. Why, man? how black?
LAUNCE. Why, as black as ink.
SPEED. What an ass art thou! I understand thee not.
LAUNCE. What a block art thou that thou canst not! My staff understands me.
SPEED. What thou say'st?
LAUNCE. Ay, and what I do too; look thee, I'll but lean, and my staff understands me.
SPEED. It stands under thee, indeed.
LAUNCE. Why, stand-under and under-stand is all one.
Well, I must say that this play doesn't really amuse me as much as other comedies, but it's pretty nice. I think they should make the No Fear Shakespeare version to make it easier to read, though. So many puns have lost their meanings nowadays, that it's so difficult to really understand them without help.