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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

DUKE
What might we do to make the girl forget
The love of Valentine and love Sir Thurio?
PROTEUS
The best way is to slander Valentine
With falsehood, cowardice and poor descent,
Three things that women highly hold in hate. (3.2.7)

Once Proteus loses his "zeal" for Valentine (see above passage), he quickly stabs his friend in the back. At this point, he has not only gotten Valentine kicked out of court (by telling the Duke Valentine planned to elope with Silvia), he's also resorted to "slander" in the hopes that trash talking Valentine to Silvia will help him win her heart.

Quote #5

SILVIA
The more shame for him that he sends it me;
For I have heard him say a thousand times
His Julia gave it him at his departure.
Though his false finger have profaned the ring,
Mine shall not do his Julia so much wrong.
JULIA
She thanks you. (4.4.4)

As one critic puts it, Shakespeare is definitely interested in "celebrating" male friendship in this play. But, when we read this passage from Two Gentlemen of Verona, we can't help but think that Shakespeare hints that women are capable of friendship too. Here, Silvia refuses to accept the ring Proteus has sent her (by way of Julia, who is disguised as a page boy, "Sebastian"). Silvia insists that she would never do "Julia so much wrong," which gestures at Silvia's capacity for loyalty and solidarity with another woman. (Unlike Proteus, who is busy stabbing his best friend in the back.)

Quote #6

I dare not say
I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me.
Who should be trusted, when one's own right hand
Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus,
I am sorry I must never trust thee more,
But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
The private wound is deepest: O time most accurst,
'Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst! (5.4.4)

Immediately after Valentine prevents Proteus from raping Silvia, Valentine lays into his friend. The surprising thing is that Valentine doesn't yell at Proteus for being a potential rapist. He yells at him for being such a disloyal friend. Valentine is more upset about not being able to "trust" his pal than he is outraged that Proteus would assault a woman. What's up with that?

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