Loyalty in Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona

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Loyalty in Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona In Webster's Dictionary, loyalty is defined as the quality or state or an instance of being loyal and loyal is defined as an unswerving in allegiance. In Elizabethan England, loyalty was believed to be the ultimate test of a gentleman's character, that only those who passed this test could be considered the perfect Elizabethan gentleman. Shakespeare believed this too. In, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, loyalty is a very prevalent theme throughout the comedy. In Act I, the friendship of Proteus and Valentine is quickly established. Valentine is leaving Verona to continue his education in the court of the Duke of Milan, leaving his friend behind. Proteus' passion for Julia has caused him to be stationary, a virtual prisoner of love. Before departing, Valentine observed, "Love is your master, for he masters you" (Act I. Scene I. Line 42). He is, in essence, warning Proteus that he should love, but love wisely, and not abandon all else in his pursuit of passion. It is established that the bond between the two men is strong and Valentine exhibits genuine concern for his friend. It is also apparent that Proteus is deeply in love with Julia, and when his father, Antonio, suggests that he join his friend Valentine by going to Milan, Proteus is genuinely distressed about being separated from his beloved Julia. However, he does as he's told, demonstrating loyalty to his father. Meanwhile, in Milan, Valentine has fallen in love with Silvia, the Duke of Milan's daughter. Like Proteus for Julia, Valentine is utterly love-struck, and suddenly, he understands what it means to be ruled by one's heart, rather than one's head. Silvia returns Valentine's affections, but unfortunately, the Du... ... middle of paper ... ...ith him, he acknowledges that he mistook infatuation for love, and that Julia was his one true love. While The Two Gentlemen of Verona ends happily with a double wedding and the restored friendship of Proteus and Valentine, one is left to wonder if Proteus has really changed, or if his opportunistic nature is merely making the best of a bad situation. Valentine, Silvia and Julia were unwavering in their loyalties to those they loved, while Proteus, time and time again, sacrificed those supposedly dearest to him in order to satisfy his own needs. It is difficult to believe that Proteus "saw the light" and would never again act with disloyalty towards his friends and lovers. Professing loyalty in words and demonstrating it with action are two different things. Actions speak louder than words, and Proteus' ease in choosing disloyalty over loyalty speaks volumes.
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