The Two Gentlemen of Verona
How we cite our quotes:
But when I look on her perfections,
There is no reason but I shall be blind.
If I can cheque my erring love, I will;
If not, to compass her I'll use my skill. (2.4.18)
This is one of the first hints of Proteus's capacity for sexual violence. He says that he'll try to put his desire for Silvia in check, but, if he can't, he'll use his "skill" to "compass" her. As a verb, "compass" can mean a few things. The editors of the 2008 Norton Shakespeare gloss this word to mean that Proteus intends to "win" Silvia. But, "compass" can also mean to "to seize" and it can also mean "to encircle, or surround something" (Oxford English Dictionary). In other words, it seems like Proteus's intention to "compass" Silvia is a lot more aggressive than a simple desire to "win" her heart. Keep reading….
Sir Proteus, gentle lady, and your servant.
What's your will?
That I may compass yours. (4.2.9)
Here's that word "compass" again. At 2.4.18 (above), Proteus used the term to suggest that he would use his "skill" to "compass" (win, seize, attain) Silvia. Here, his use of the word is even more tricky. On the one hand, Proteus suggests that he wants to "compass" (win) Silvia's good "will." (He wants to win her affection.) On the other hand, Proteus could also be suggesting that he intends to "compass" Silvia's free "will." This latter meaning seems to anticipate his attempt to rape Silvia, which is an act that aims to deprive her of all free choice and free will.
Come, I must bring you to our captain's cave:
Fear not; he bears an honourable mind,
And will not use a woman lawlessly. (5.3.3)
When the outlaws take Silvia captive, the First Outlaw promises that his "captain" will not assault her. This speaks to the fact that Valentine (the outlaws' "captain") isn't the kind of guy who goes around raping women (unlike Proteus). It also speaks to the fact that the forest is a pretty dangerous place for women – otherwise, why would the First Outlaw go out of his way to put Silvia's potential fears to rest?