The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Transformation Quotes Page 3
How we cite our quotes:
How use doth breed a habit in a man!
This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods,
I better brook than flourishing peopled towns:
Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
And to the nightingale's complaining notes
Tune my distresses and record my woes. (5.4.1)
When Valentine gets kicked out of Milan for trying to elope with the Duke's daughter, he bums around a forest, where he finds a sense of peace bemoaning his sadness in harmony with the mournful sounds of the nightingale. As literary scholar Jean Howard reminds us, Valentine's reference to the nightingale recalls the mythic story of Philomela, who was raped by Tereus and eventually transformed into a nightingale whose sad tune mourned the loss of Philomela's virginity. OK, we know what you're thinking. What does the mythic story of Philomela's rape and transformation into a bird have to do with Valentine hanging out in the forest missing his girlfriend? Well, it can't be a coincidence that moments after Valentine mentions the nightingale, his pal Proteus tries to rape Silvia in the very same forest, can it? Keep reading…
Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
I'll woo you like a soldier, at arms' end,
And love you 'gainst the nature of love,--force ye. (5.4.5)
Here, Proteus says that, if he can't transform Julia's feelings for him, then he'll resort to rape. It seems like Proteus has been transformed himself – into an animal. See "Quotes" for "Violence" if you want to know more about the attempted rape.
O Proteus, let this habit make thee blush!
Be thou ashamed that I have took upon me
Such an immodest raiment, if shame live
In a disguise of love:
It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,
Women to change their shapes than men their minds. (5.4.7)
Julia is pretty embarrassed that she had to resort to "chang[ing]" her "shape" (dressing as a boy) in order to chase down Proteus. But here, she tells Proteus that he should be even more "ashamed" by his infidelity ("chang[ing]" his "mind" about her and pursuing Silvia). Keep reading for Proteus's response to this…