THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

By William Shakespeare
Probably written between 1592-93

Comments by Bob Corbett
January 2009

General Note: In January 2009 I decided that Iíd like to go back and read all the plays of William Shakespeare, perhaps one a month if that works out. I hadnít read a Shakespeare play since 1959, 50 years ago! But I had read nearly all of them in college. I wanted to go back, start with something not too serious or challenging, and work my way through the whole corpus. Thus I began with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. At this time I have no idea how the project will go, nor if it will actually lead me through the entire corpus of Shakespeareís plays. However, I will keep a separate page listing each play Iíve read with links to any comments I would make of that particular play. See: List of Shakespeareís playís Iíve read and commented on

COMMENTS ON
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

Many years ago I had read that this early play had been written in different time periods and has some internal contradictions Ė was the Duke a duke or an emperor? But what I noticed on this reading was that the latter half of the play is much better written than the rather mundane early part. It left me wondering if the play was written in part by two different authors or if Shakespeare had just matured some by the time he returned to the text.

Itís definitely a light weight play. Valentine is in love with Silvia and, in the beginning, his best buddy, Proteus is in love with Julia. However, once Proteus goes to the lavish court in Milan and sees Valentineís love he forgets about Julia and falls for Silvia, betraying Valentine at every turn.

However, things work then selves out marvelously in the end. Both men get their loves, both women theirs. Friendships are restored and even a group of outlaws are forgiven. Ah, yes, allís well that ends well.

This is not a play I would highly recommend or praise. My main disappointment was the shallow view of human nature shown here than one tends to find in later works as I remember them.

The weaknesses I perceived were not so much in the evil character Proteus, but in the better person, Valentine. Heís just too saintly and forgiving to be very believable. I think it has been a full fifty years since I had read an entire Shakespeare play. Iíve often read this or that piece of famous scenes from the more famous plays, but not a start-to-finish read. I purposely chose what I remembered to be a weaker play as my first read, and even there I was delighted with some of the writing in the latter parts. I think I will enjoy this project to return now and read all the plays, slowly, about one a month if that quickly.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu