The Two Gentlemen of Verona Theme of Friendship
Two Gentlemen of Verona is often described as a "celebration" of male friendship. In the play, male bonds are threatened by heterosexual romance and one man's capacity for betrayal. While some critics read the play as an attempt to reconcile the tension between friendship and heterosexual love, others see a play in which male bonds are given priority over all other relationships. We can also read the play as an exploration of common sixteenth-century attitudes. For many prominent writers and philosophers, male friendship was considered the most elevated form of human connectedness. Shakespeare's portrayal of male bonds in Two Gentlemen echoes throughout his other works – especially the Sonnets, The Merchant of Venice, and The Winter's Tale.
Questions About Friendship
- Why is Proteus so sad to see his friend leave Verona?
- What is it, exactly, that threatens to break up Proteus and Valentine's relationship?
- Describe Valentine's response to Proteus's attempt to rape Silvia.
- Why do you think Valentine offers to "give" Silvia to Proteus?
Chew on This
In the play, the bonds of male friendship are threatened by the male characters' romantic interests in women.
Even after Valentine is formally engaged to Silvia, his loyalty to Proteus remains his first priority.