The Two Gentlemen of Verona
How we cite our quotes:
'Item: She is slow in words.'
O villain, that set this down among her vices! To
be slow in words is a woman's only virtue: I pray
thee, out with't, and place it for her chief virtue. (3.1.19)
When Speed helps Lance compose a list of Lance's girlfriend's virtues and vices, they argue about whether or not her "slowness in words" should be listed as a "vice" or a "virtue." This joke revolves around a common sixteenth-century belief – the so-called ideal woman was supposed to be virtuous, obedient, and silent.
Madam, he sends your ladyship this ring.
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.
She thanks you. (4.4.4)
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).
Why, this it is to be a peevish girl,
That flies her fortune when it follows her.
I'll after, more to be revenged on Eglamour
Than for the love of reckless Silvia. (5.3.13)
Hmm. Apparently, Thurio isn't attracted to Silvia's free spirit and willful nature. Here, he decides that her "peevish" nature prevents her from being wife material.