Characters Embodying Features of the Antithesis of the Renaissance Concept of the Masculine Ideal in Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona

Characters Embodying Features of the Antithesis of the Renaissance Concept of the Masculine Ideal in Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona

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Characters Embodying Features of the Antithesis of the Renaissance Concept of the Masculine Ideal in Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Two Gentlemen of Verona deals with the debate over the relative merits of love and friendship between two young courtiers Valentine and Proteus. One of the great debates of the Renaissance was the discussion of whether the love of a woman was a sentiment more noble than the friendship that might exist between men. We also see the first instances of later female heroines in the qualities of Julia and Silvia.
The plays starts with the two friends together, Valentine is getting ready to leave for the court of Milan, and is chastening his friend Proteus to accompany him, and leave Julia the girl he loves, and the dull life of home "Than, living dully sluggardiz'd at home" (1.1.7). Proteus being love struck is willing at this point to stay at home, and let his friend leave alone. Showing at this point that love does outweigh friendship. After Valentine leaves, Proteus's father is persuaded to make his son seek out his future away from home also.
When we next catch up with Valentine he is in the court of Milan, and is trying to woe the Dukes daughter Silvia, who has been promised to Thurio who is a pompous, rich gentlemen, and like the rich snob of modern times will not get the lady's hand. On the other hand Valentine seems so immature and naïve, in that the Dukes daughter Silvia, plays him for the fool that he's acting like. Speed the page to Valentine, has seen this, and when he tries to tell his master it is to complicated for the love struck hero to follow. "What needs she, when she has made you write to yourself? Why, do you not perceive the jest?" (2.1.152-15...


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...s did not have a lot of options. The two women in the end of the play are shown to be almost puppet like, and controlled by the will of the men around, and do not have a say in the outcome at all. The debate of love over friendship is placed back in a balance when Valentine says that they will all marry on the same day and live in the same place "Our day of marriage shall be yours, one feast, one house, one mutual happiness."
The play shows Proteus to be a false friend, a sly trickster, a liar, a coward, a slanderer and a ruffian, and this is the same person whom Valentine had described as having spent his youth in putting on an "angel like perfection" but in turn love drives this perfection out, and a devilish attitude in. Only the gentleman Valentine can put things back into order, which he does at the end, and love and friendship live together hand in hand.

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