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At the Duke's court in Milan, Silvia and Valentine are busy flirting like two "courtly lovers" (remember what we said about their little game of master and servant back in Act 2, Scene 1)? Meanwhile, a guy named Thurio sneers at the happy twosome.
Speed notices that Thurio is jealous, so he does what all of Shakespeare's clownish servants do best – he starts trouble. Before we know it, Thurio and Valentine are insulting each other.
At one point, Silvia chimes in that Thurio's face is turning red but, finally, she tires of the silly quarrel and tells the guys to knock it off.
Silvia's father, the Duke, enters.
The Duke chats it up with Proteus and steers the conversation toward Valentine's BFF, Proteus.
Valentine gushes over his bosom buddy Proteus like a giddy school boy.
The Duke says it's great that Valentine is so crazy about him because Proteus is on his way here right now.
Valentine is thrilled and tells Silvia what an awesome guy Proteus is. He also explains that Proteus would have come earlier but he stayed behind for a girl.
Silvia wonders why Proteus is coming to see Valentine if he's so in love with Julia.
Proteus enters the room and gets a warm welcome from Silvia and Valentine.
Silvia runs off to speak with her father.
Valentine confesses that he's in love with Silvia and Proteus takes the opportunity to remind his friend that he used to think love was for idiots.
Proteus and Valentine play a friendly game of "whose girlfriend is the most angelic and saintly creature on earth?" It sounds like this: "My girlfriend is the cutest in all the land." "No, my girlfriend is the cutest – yours isn't fit to hold her dress."
Enough bragging. Valentine confides that he and Silvia are going to run off to Vegas to elope. (OK, they're not going to Vegas, but they are planning to run away and get married.) That night, he'll climb a ladder up to Silvia's window so the couple can run off together. (Hmm. Shakespeare must have really liked this whole "climbing a ladder to a girl's bedroom" thing because he repeats it in Romeo and Juliet.)
Brain Snack: One of Shakespeare's main literary sources for Two Gentlemen of Verona is Arthur Brooke's The Tragicall History of Romeus and Juliet (1562), which also happens to be the major source for Romeo and Juliet.
Valentine runs off to his room and Proteus says he'll be there in a minute.
Then Proteus delivers a soliloquy (when a character is alone on stage and delivers a speech that reveals his/her inner thoughts to the audience) about how he has fallen in love with Silvia. (Julia who?) Proteus is a bit torn because he knows his love for a woman will interfere with his bromance with Valentine, who is engaged to Silvia. Finally, Proteus decides he loves Silvia more than Valentine and resolves to win her.