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MonkeyNotes-The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTERS

Valentine

Valentine is one of the two gentlemen of Verona. He is young, well bred, and adventurous. He is first seen in the play as he 2ngages in a witty conversation with his friend Proteus; they discuss the merits of love and travel. Valentine is determined to see the wonders of the world and unsuccessfully tries to convince Proteus to join him. He scoffs at Proteus' being tied down by his love for Julia.

In Milan, Valentine undergoes a significant transformation in character. He falls deeply in love with the beautiful Silvia, who is the Duke's daughter; he sees her as a perfect, almost celestial being. In truth, he appears more dreamy and lovesick than even Proteus. He is so blinded by his love that Silvia tricks him into writing a love letter to himself and into confronting Thurio in a battle of wits that she thoroughly enjoys. Knowing that the Duke does not approve of him as his daughter's suitor over the wealthy Thurio, Valentine convinces Silvia to elope with him.

His best friend Proteus, who has also fallen in love with Silvia, betrays the naive Valentine. He tells the Duke about Valentine's plans to elope with his daughter, hoping that his friend will be banished from Milan and clear the way for him to woo Silvia. The Duke reacts as expected and immediately sends Valentine away. Before his departure, Proteus again tricks his trusting friend and promises to deliver Valentine's letters to his beloved. Valentine innocently accepts his friend's kindness.

Valentine flees to Mantua, where a gang of bandits confronts him. He thinks on his feet and tells them that he, like them, has been banished -- for killing a man. The bandits accept Valentine as one of them and make him their leader because of this noble bearing and character. When they tell him he will be killed if he does not accept their offer, the meek Valentine does not give any resistance. His only request, sounding much like Robin Hood, is that the bandits do not harm any women or the poor.


Later in the forest of Mantua, Valentine is seen as despondent and melancholic as he thinks about his fate and his separation from his true love. His thoughts are interrupted by the appearance of Proteus, who is seducing Silvia. Not immediately driven to anger, he watches and listens for awhile in disbelief. Finally, when Proteus threatens to have his way with Silvia, even if by force, the mild-mannered Valentine intervenes, rescues his beloved Silvia from the foul clutches of his best friend, and shames Proteus. When he begs for forgiveness, Valentine, too easily and quickly, grants pardon to Proteus, who Valentine still views as a male comrade and close friend.

When Thurio enters and tries to claim Silvia for his own, Valentine reacts more definitively, for he sees this man as a rival, not a friend. Thurio quickly retreats from Valentine's advances, and the road is clear for him to be permanently united with Silvia. The Duke approves of the union, for he admires Valentine's spirit and sees that his daughter truly loves him.

Valentine's obtuseness is an interesting trait that is manifest throughout the play. He is tricked by Silvia to write a love letter to himself. He walks into the trap set for him by the Duke's phony story. He is befriended by Proteus without the slightest notion of his betrayal, until he witnesses it first hand in the last scene of the play. Valentine's intriguing character finds its culmination in his act of generous forgiveness of his best friend's betrayal. Apparently, Valentine is an Elizabethan man who values friendship above all things.

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MonkeyNotes-The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare
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