The Two Gentlemen of Verona Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona qualify as an epic saga?

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The Two Gentlemen of Verona actually is not an epic saga according to the proper definition. An epic saga is generally a narrative chronicling a series of heroic adventures over a long period of time. They are usually set in a distant historical period but can also be set in a fictional world. Examples of epic sagas include Die Niebelungen, The Lord of the Rings, The Dream of the Red Chamber, Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, and The Epic of Sundjata.

In contrast, The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a romantic comedy typical to the Elizabethan period. The story involves mistaken identities and lovers kept separate by social demands, and it ends with multiple marriages. The tone is humorous and feather-light, unlike epics, which tend to take themselves much more seriously. The duration of the story's action also disqualifies it as a saga, since the action takes place over a short period of time.

The protagonist Valentine is not an epic hero by any standard either: he is motivated largely by his friendship with the treacherous Proteus and his romantic longing for Silvia. He is a comic figure: naive and sometimes foolish. He does get some moments of heroism, such as when he rescues his beloved Silvia from rape at the hands of Proteus, but otherwise he is not a proper epic hero due to his lack of noble bearing. In fact, some argue he is anti-heroic, going by his callous decision to showcase his forgiveness of Proteus by "allowing" him to be with Silvia, who rebuffed him moments before.

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