Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Verona. City in northern Italy in which William Shakespeare also set Romeo and Juliet (1595-1596). The Verona of The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a highly fictionalized place, a locale of relative innocence. There, Valentine and Proteus enjoy a firm and uncomplicated friendship until Proteus is sent by his father to Milan.
Tensions among the characters in Verona are mild and ordinary, features of fairly uneventful domestic life: Valentine disagrees with Proteus about the relative merits of love and travel; Julia at first does not to know what to make of Proteus’s offers of affection; Antonio, Proteus’s father, disapproves of his son’s devotion to love; and Proteus objects to his father’s command that he join Valentine in Milan. None of these conflicts is particularly significant. They all resemble the conflict between the buffoon Launce and his dog Crab, who refuses to weep upon his master’s departure from home. Contrasted to Milan and the forest, Verona is a place of domestic tranquillity.
*Milan. Major northern Italian city, which, like Verona, is highly fictionalized in the play. In Milan, the two young gentlemen of Verona finally encounter serious problems in their lives. Valentine falls in love with Silvia, but her father, the Duke, wishes her to marry a wealthy but unpleasant character named Thurio.
When Proteus arrives in Milan, his life is also...
(The entire section is 552 words.)
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Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Leech, Clifford. Introduction to The Two Gentlemen of Verona, by William Shakespeare. London: Methuen, 1969. Concludes that the play is primarily concerned with mocking the idealistic pretensions of Renaissance codes of romantic love and friendship.
Lindenbaum, Peter. “Education in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Studies in English Literature 15, no. 2 (Spring, 1975): 229-244. Concludes that the play is about the importance of penitence for past sins. The education of the “perfect man” envisioned at the beginning of the play takes the protagonists to the court and then to the green forest, where they will learn that they are imperfect because they are human.
Perry, Thomas A. “Proteus, Wry-Transformed Traveller.” Shakespeare Quarterly 5, no. 1 (January, 1954): 33-40. Shows that to understand Proteus, one must first see him as a young Elizabethan Italiante in a passing phase; at the end of the play he is a chastened and regenerate youth.
Sargent, Ralph M. “Sir Thomas Elyot and the Integrity of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” PMLA 65, no. 2 (December, 1950): 1166-1180. Discusses the ways in which Proteus learns that he has violated the codes of masculine friendship and romantic love and how he is regenerated and reclaimed at the end of the play.
Stephenson, William E. “The Adolescent Dream-World of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” Shakespeare Quarterly 17, no. 2 (Spring, 1966): 165-168. Focuses on the fact that Proteus and Valentine are two very young gentlemen, sixteenth century adolescents still under parental authority. Their wild swings of emotion, naïveté, tentative behavior, tame submission to elders, and dreams and hallucinations of love are signs that they are just past the first changes of puberty. In the latter part of the play they are half-grown, and even the final denouement is a dream-action.