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The Two Gentlemen of Verona Theme of Marriage

Marriage between a man and a woman is the union that all of Shakespeare's comedies work toward. In order to achieve such a union, the characters in Two Gentlemen of Verona must overcome several obstacles – disagreeable parents, the fickleness of romance, love triangles, deception, and betrayal. Looked at from another angle, however, the pursuit of marriage in the play is the major obstacle standing in the way of male friendship. Although the play ends in the promise of a double wedding, it's not clear whether or not marriage between a man and a woman ever trumps male friendship as the most important human bond.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Why do Valentine and Silvia want to elope? What's standing in their way?
  2. What is the function of Lance's announcement that he's fallen in love with a woman with "more qualities than a water-spaniel"? What does this suggest about the character's attitude toward marriage? Does it shed any light on how the main characters (like Proteus and Valentine) feel about love and marriage?
  3. How is Silvia's engagement to Valentine arranged?
  4. Read the final lines of the play and discuss the implications of Valentine's statement: "our day of marriage shall be yours;/ One feast, one house, one mutual happiness" (5.4.14).

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although Two Gentlemen promises a double wedding at the end of Act 5, Scene 4, the play also leaves us wondering if Proteus and Valentine will value their marriages as much as they honor their friendship with each other.

Although Julia is ashamed about cross-dressing, her social impropriety is excusable because Julia's actions are in the interest of her getting married.

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