The Two Gentlemen of Verona
How we cite our quotes:
Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, adieu!
Think on thy Proteus, when thou haply seest
Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel:
Wish me partaker in thy happiness
When thou dost meet good hap; and in thy danger,
If ever danger do environ thee,
Commend thy grievance to my holy prayers,
For I will be thy beadsman, Valentine. (1.1.1)
It's pretty clear from the play's beginning that Valentine and Proteus are devoted friends. As the two bosom buddies say goodbye, Proteus promises to pray for Valentine and says he hopes Valentine will think of him during his travels.
In Shakespeare's day, male friendship was considered one of the most sacred and important bonds. In a famous book published in 1531, Thomas Elyot writes that "he semeth to take the sun from the world, that taketh friendship from man's life" (The Book Named the Governor, 2.11).
I know him as myself; for from our infancy
We have conversed and spent our hours together: (2.4.20)
Here, Valentine explains why he and Proteus are so close – the pair have known each other since infancy and have spent their entire lives together. When Proteus says "I know him as myself," he means to suggest that he knows Proteus as well as he knows himself. At the same time, the phrase, "I know him as myself" seems to also suggest that Proteus and Valentine are like two halves of the same being. Valentine seems to be echoing a common sixteenth-century idea made famous by Thomas Elyot's The Book Named the Governor. In Book 2, Chapter 11, Elyot says that friendship makes "two persons one in having and suffering. And therefore a friend is properly named of philosophers the other I. For that in them is but one mind and one possession" (2.11).
This passage from Two Gentlemen of Verona also reminds us of the childhood friendship between Leontes and Polixenes's in Shakespeare's later play, The Winter's Tale. When Polixenes describes his friendship with Leontes, he says they were like "twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun" (Winter's Tale,1.2.10), which is a very sweet way to describe the "innocence" and joy of a carefree childhood friendship between two boys. It also implies that Polixenes and Leontes were so close that they were practically identical ("twinn'd").
Even as one heat another heat expels,
Or as one nail by strength drives out another,
So the remembrance of my former love
Is by a newer object quite forgotten.
She is fair; and so is Julia that I love--
That I did love, for now my love is thaw'd;
Methinks my zeal to Valentine is cold,
And that I love him not as I was wont.
O, but I love his lady too too much,
And that's the reason I love him so little. (2.4.18)
Uh-oh. This is where Proteus tells the audience he's fallen in love with his best friend's girlfriend, which means he's fallen out of love with Julia. He's also lost his "zeal" for Valentine. Notice the way Proteus talks about falling in and out of love as losing "heat" (passion, love, desire, etc.) and going cold? Proteus says his love for Julia has "thawed" and his "zeal to Valentine is cold" (our emphasis). Question: why do you think Proteus uses the same terminology to describe falling out of love with his girlfriend and loving his best friend "so little"?