(Index to the Series appears on Oct. 7, 2010 — https://cradkilodney.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/ )
Valentine — a gentleman of Verona
Proteus — a gentleman of Verona
Speed — Valentine’s servant
Launce (or Lance) — Proteus’s servant
Antonio — Proteus’s father
Pantino (or Panthino) — Antonio’s servant
Julia — Proteus’s sweetheart in Verona (When she is disguised as Sebastian, her speech prefix will be “Sebastian.”)
Lucetta — Julia’s waiting-lady
Duke of Milan
Sylvia (or Silvia) — the Duke’s daughter
Thurio — suitor to Sylvia
Eglamour — a gentleman of Milan
Host — innkeeper in Milan
Gist of the story: Valentine and Proteus are young gentlemen and best friends in Verona. Valentine is sent to Milan by his father to get some worldly experience. He meets Sylvia, the daughter of the Duke of Milan, is engaged as her servant, and falls in love with her. But the Duke wants Sylvia to marry Thurio, whom she dislikes. Meanwhile, Proteus gets engaged to Julia in Verona. He leaves her reluctantly when his father insists that he should go to Milan, too, and gain some advancement and experience. Lonely and impatient, Julia disguises herself as a man (Sebastian) and goes to Milan to look for Proteus. Proteus has since forgotten all about her because he has also fallen in love with Sylvia, for whom he has also been engaged as a gentleman servant. He plots to steal her from Valentine by telling the Duke of Valentine’s plan to elope with her. Valentine is banished, and Sylvia is put under house arrest. Proteus plots to undermine Thurio’s hopes to wed Sylvia but it does him no good since she now hates him for what he’s done. Julia, disguised as Sebastian, is hired by Proteus as a page and witnesses first-hand his disloyalty. Sylvia escapes with the help of Eglamour. Valentine, meanwhile, has met some outlaws and has become their leader. The outlaws capture Sylvia. She is rescued by Proteus, but he attempts to win her love by force. Valentine stops him, and Proteus is overcome with remorse. Valentine forgives him and then offers to give up Sylvia to him. Julia, in disguise, faints. When she recovers, she reveals her identity. She and Proteus are reunited, and the Duke, who is there to see it all as a prisoner of the outlaws, gladly gives his blessing to Sylvia and Valentine. Only Thurio does not enjoy a happy ending.
(TGV has been one of Shakespeare’s most harshly criticized plays. It has some significant flaws, but it’s the last scene that has drawn the most fire. The reversals between Proteus and Valentine are simply not credible. Yes, Shakespeare’s comedies often stretch our willingness to believe human behaviour, but nobody believes this ending. I’ve tried to help it a little, but I can’t change it. Despite its weaknesses, the play has a good story line and many funny bits that I have made the most of. TGV has also attracted considerable attention from the “queer studies” faction of every English Department. We are assured that there is a homoerotic theme to the play because the friendly love between Valentine and Proteus is weighed against their romantic love for Sylvia. It’s all b.s., but academics call it “research.” Trust me on this. There are no gay characters in this play. Plenty of pooftah professors will insist otherwise, but you know where they’re coming from, don’t you?)
Act 1, Scene 1. A street in Verona. Valentine and Proteus come in. (Author’s note: Their ages are not given, but you should take them to be around eighteen.)
Valentine: Don’t try to change my mind, Proteus. I’m going to Milan.
Proteus: I wish you wouldn’t.
Valentine: Hey, there’s a whole, big world out there. I have an opportunity to advance myself. I’m going to work in the Duke’s court in Milan. I’d take you with me, but you don’t want to leave Julia.
Proteus: I can’t help it. I love her. I’ll stay in Verona forever. I don’t care.
Valentine: You’re too young to tie yourself down like that.
Proteus: Yeah, anyway, just think of me when you’re having a good time–or even if you’re having a bad time. I’ll be praying for you.
Valentine: Yeah, you’ll be praying for me to fall in love, just to teach me a lesson.
Proteus: Ha, ha!–Well, I’ll pray for you as a best friend.
Valentine: I really appreciate that. And I’ll miss you when I’m gone. I just wish I could shake you out of that mind-set you’re in. Being in love is ninety-percent torture. I’ve seen it happen to other guys. You get all obsessed over a girl, you can’t think straight, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, and all you’re hoping for is, like, maybe she’ll smile at you. It’s not worth it.
Proteus: So am I a fool because I love a girl?
Valentine: You will be if you go on like this. Love is like a master and you’re like a slave. I don’t want that to happen to me.
Proteus: It happens to everyone sooner or later. It’ll happen to you, too.
Valentine: If it does, I hope I get over it in a few days like a cold. Listen, I have to rush. My father’s got the carriage waiting for me. But I’ll write to you a lot, okay? I’ll give you all my news. And I want to hear your news, too.
Proteus: You will. I promise.–Hey, good luck, man.
Valentine: Hey, you, too, man.
(Valentine leaves. Proteus is rather downcast.)
Proteus: He’ll do all right for himself. He’s going places.–Me? All I do is think about Julia. I’ve given up everything else. I don’t see my friends. I don’t do my studies. I don’t have any fun. All I do is mope.–Julia, Julia, Julia–day and night. It’s making me sick.
(Speed comes in, in a hurry.)
Speed: Proteus, have you seen Valentine?
Proteus: He’s just gone to leave for Milan.
Speed: Damn! If he leaves without me, I’m in big trouble.
Proteus: A servant should never be late–especially if his name is Speed.
Speed: I know, I know. I’d better be on that carriage or his father will make me walk all the way to Milan.
(He starts to leave, but Proteus holds him by the sleeve.)
Proteus: Hey, just a minute. Did you deliver my letter to Julia?
Speed: And what?
Proteus: What did she say?
Speed: What did she say? Let me think.–I’m trying to remember. (He makes a gesture with his thumb and fingers indicating that he expects to be paid.)
Proteus: I have to pay you? Is that the game?
Speed: Hey, be cheap with your own servant. I’m entitled to a tip.
(Proteus gives him a coin.)
Proteus: So what did she say?
Proteus: Nothing at all? Not one word?
Speed: She just nodded politely and stood there. She didn’t even open the letter. She didn’t seem to care about it.
Proteus: I can’t believe it.
Speed: No offense, sir, but I think you’re barking up the wrong tree with a girl like that. I don’t think she has any heart at all. But good luck anyway. I have to catch up with the boss. Goodbye.
(Speed leaves quickly.)
Proteus: What a waste! Maybe if I’d sent a better messenger, I would’ve gotten an answer.
(He leaves, looking downcast.)
Act 1, Scene 2. In Julia’s house. Julia comes in with Lucetta.
Julia: Lucetta, I want your opinion about something.
Lucetta: Yes, madam.
Julia: Of all the available gentlemen, who do you think is the best one for me?
Lucetta: Oh–I would say–Proteus.
Julia: But you must have some reason.
Lucetta: No, nothing specific. I just feel he’s the best match for you.
Julia: But he’s never shown any sign that he loves me.
Lucetta: He’s probably too shy to show it. But I believe he does love you.
Julia: I wish I knew what he really thinks of me.
Lucetta: Then I suggest you read this.
(Lucetta gives Julia a letter.)
Julia: It’s addressed to me–but who is it from?
Lucetta: Open it and you’ll see.
Julia: Where did you get this?
Lucetta: It was given to me by Valentine’s servant, Speed, although it came from Proteus. I, uh, pretended I was you, so Speed gave it to me.
Julia: Lucetta! You shouldn’t have! How do I know what’s in that letter? I’m a proper girl. I’m a virgin. I have a reputation to worry about.–A mysterious letter–from somebody else’s servant?–You take it right back where you got it. I insist.
(Julia gives the letter back to Lucetta.)
Lucetta: I should think this letter deserves a kinder response.
Julia: Just go!
Lucetta: I shall go, madam–just long enough for you to change your mind.
(Lucetta leaves. Julia paces a bit and is obviously conflicted.)
Julia: I should have read that letter. Now I’m going to feel like an idiot. (Calls) Lucetta!
Lucetta: Yes, madam?
Julia: Em–is dinner almost ready?
(Lucetta drops the letter deliberately and then picks it up.)
Julia: What’s that?
Lucetta: Just a paper. Nothing to do with me.
Julia: If it’s nothing to do with you, then let it lie on the floor.
Lucetta: Let it lie? If it is a true letter, it will not lie.
(Julia takes the letter from her.)
Julia: You want me to read this, don’t you?
Lucetta: If it’s addressed to you, you should, madam.
Julia: Because it’s from Proteus. That’s what you mean.
Lucetta: Yes, madam.
(Julia hesitates, begins to open the letter, and then tears it up impulsively. Lucetta bends down to pick up the pieces.)
Julia: No! Leave the pieces where they are. Just go and take care of dinner.
Lucetta: Yes, madam.–And if he sends another letter, will you tear that up, too?
Julia: If he’s a gentleman, he won’t persist by sending another letter.
Lucetta: But even though he’s a gentleman, you’ll still refuse to read the first one.
(Julia is startled by the smart remark, but Lucetta is already walking out. Julia is angry at first, then overcome by curiosity about the letter. She picks up one piece, reads the words, and reacts with silent emotion. She picks up two more pieces, reacting to each one silently. She clutches the pieces of paper to her heart and looks into space longingly. She tries to conceal the pieces when Lucetta returns.)
Lucetta: Dinner is ready,madam. And your father is here, too.
Julia: All right. I’m coming.
Lucetta: Shall I pick these up? (There are some pieces of paper on the floor.)
Julia: Suit yourself.
Lucetta: I shouldn’t leave them on the floor. They’re not rubbish.
(Lucetta picks up the pieces.)
Julia: Are you sure?
Lucetta: Of course, I’m sure, madam. I can see that much.
Julia: Let’s sit down to dinner.
(Julia leaves first, followed by Lucetta after she has picked up the remaining pieces.)
Act 1, Scene 3. In the house of Proteus. Antonio comes in with Pantino.
Antonio: Pantino, what were you talking about with my brother?
Pantino: He was talking about your son, sir.
Antonio: What about him?
Pantino: He wonders why you let Proteus stay here in Verona. He seems to think it would do the boy a world of good to leave home and find his fortune somewhere. After all, he’s young and he hasn’t been anywhere or done much of anything.
Antonio: I think my brother’s been reading my mind. I’ve been thinking about that very thing. The boy should go out in the world and get some experience. But where?
Pantino: His friend Valentine went to Milan and now he’s a gentleman servant in the Duke’s court.
Antonio: That’s an excellent position for a young man.
Pantino: So send Proteus to Milan, too. With a few good letters of reference he could be in the Duke’s court, too.
Antonio: That’s an excellent idea.–Yes. He’d be rubbing shoulders with the nobles–learn about courtly manners–learn what they know.–And his friend Valentine could introduce him to people, show him the ropes–that sort of thing.
Pantino: It would be a great opportunity for advancement.
Antonio: Absolutely. It’s the best thing that could happen to him. Pantino, my mind’s made up. I’m going to send him to Milan.
Pantino: There’s a party of gentlemen going to Milan tomorrow. You know all of them. They’ll be calling on the Duke. I think they can squeeze Proteus in. You can send his luggage on later if you have to.
Antonio: That works out perfectly. Who’s leading the party?
Pantino: Don Alphonso.
Antonio: Oh, yes, Alphonso will be happy to do it.
(Proteus comes in slowly, distracted by a letter he is reading.)
Proteus (Aside): She loves me. She really loves me. She wants to marry me.
Antonio: There you are, my boy. We were just talking about you.–Em, what’s that letter? Anything interesting?
Proteus: Oh–this? Em–it’s from Valentine.
Antonio: Oh, that’s nice. Let me see it. I want to read his news.
Proteus: Em–there’s no news–as such. He just sends his greetings. He says he wishes I could be there with him.
Antonio: Ah, does he now? And would you like that?
Proteus: Me?–To go to Milan, you mean?
Antonio: Yes. What would you think of that?
Proteus: Em–well–whatever you think is best, of course.
Antonio: Good. I happen to think Valentine’s instincts are right. You should be in Milan with him. It would be splendid for you.
Proteus: It would?
Antonio: Of course. Just think of it–being in the Duke’s court–as a gentleman servant, let’s say. What an opportunity! Big town. Lots of people. New friends. Learn what they know. Move up in the world–eh?
Antonio: And don’t worry about money. I’ll make sure you have what you need.
Proteus: Oh–so I’m going to Milan, then?
Antonio: Yes. Tomorrow.
Proteus: Tomorrow? Just like that?
Antonio: Yes, why not? Don Alphonso and some mutual friends of ours are going tomorrow, and you’ll travel with them.
Proteus: But father, I need time to make preparations.
Antonio: No, you don’t. You’ll travel light, and I’ll send your luggage after you. The timing is perfect. I’ll send Pantino right now to arrange everything.–Come on, Pantino.
(Antonio and Pantino leave.)
Proteus: Oh, God. This means I have to leave Julia. I should have told him the letter was from her, but I was afraid to.–How can I be so happy and so miserable on the same day?
(He walks out slowly.)
Act 2, Scene 1. In Milan. Valentine and Speed come in. Speed is carrying a glove.
Speed: Sir, your glove.
Valentine: Eh?–No, that’s not mine. I’m wearing mine.
Speed: I think this belongs to you, sir.
Valentine: Let me see that.–Ah! It’s Sylvia’s!–Sylvia–Sylvia–
Speed (Calling): Sylvia!–Paging Sylvia!
Valentine: What are you doing?
Speed: She doesn’t answer, sir.
Valentine: Why did you call her?
Speed: I thought you were calling her. I just assumed–
Valentine: Assumed what?
Speed: Well, I mean, since you love her–
Valentine: How do you know that?
Speed: How do I know? It’s pretty obvious. It’s that lovesick expression on your face. The way you react to romantic songs. The way you’re so self-absorbed. And you don’t even eat any more. “I’m not hungry.” That’s what you say. These are all signs of a young man in love.–Quite pathetic, really.
Valentine: Oh, you think so, do you?
Speed: Yes. And you always stare at her over the dinner table. God only knows why.
Valentine: Why? Because she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, that’s why. She’s beyond beautiful–beyond all words for beautiful. She’s even beyond–
Speed: Beyond the beyond. Yes, I know. It’s all an illusion, sir. It’s what you see, not what she really is.
Valentine: Oh, so I’m a fool–is that what you’re saying?
Speed: All young men in love are fools–like your friend Proteus.
Valentine: What about Proteus?
Speed: Didn’t you ridicule him because he was in love with Julia?
Valentine: I didn’t ridicule him. I just commented about it, that’s all.
Speed: Well, whatever you said to him, look in the mirror and say it to yourself, because it applies to you equally.
Valentine: I don’t care. I love her. I can’t help it.
Speed: Raging hormones. That’s all it is.
Valentine: You’re very cynical.
Speed: Has she said anything to you–I mean, of a personal nature?
Valentine: Well–she did ask me to write a love letter to someone–that is, in her behalf.
Speed: To who–I mean, whom?
Valentine: She wouldn’t say who–whom.
Speed: A love letter. Very interesting. And did you write it?
Speed: And it’s supposed to be from her to a man she loves, but you don’t know who–or whomever.
Speed: I’m sure it’s a lousy letter if it’s going to your competition. It doesn’t do you any good, does it?
Valentine: Maybe not, but I did the best I could. I think it’s actually a rather good letter.–Ah, here she comes now.
(Sylvia comes in.)
Speed (Aside to the audience): This should be interesting.
Valentine: A thousand good days to you, madam!
Speed (Aside to the audience): That’s generous. Now she’s good for the next three years.
Sylvia: Master Valentine–and servant–two thousand good days to you.
Speed (Aside to the audience): He should lend her a thousand crowns. He’d get two thousand back.
Valentine: I’ve written that letter you asked for.–I didn’t really want to, but since you asked me as a favour–
(He gives her the letter.)
Sylvia: Thank you. I’m curious to see what you’ve written. (She reads the letter silently.) It’s certainly written in an educated style. Everything’s very correct. And the penmanship is quite elegant.
Valentine: It was very hard to write, believe me.
Sylvia: Oh? Perhaps I put too much of a burden on you.
Valentine: Oh, that’s all right. I mean, if it helps you–I’m glad to be helpful.–And in the future–whenever–
Sylvia: You’re very kind, I’m sure. But I won’t trouble you a second time.–Here, you can have this back.
(She gives the letter back to Valentine. Speed gives the audience a twisted smile.)
Valentine: Oh.–Don’t you like it?
Sylvia: It’s all right as a composition, but it’s not quite in the style I would have used. I would have been more–how shall I put it?–more emotional–more romantic.
Valentine: You can keep it if you like.
Sylvia: No, no. You wrote it at my request, so I want you to keep it–as a reward for the labour you put into it.
Valentine: Shall I write you another?
Sylvia: You can if you want to. And if you think it’s good, keep it. We’ll pretend that it’s been properly delivered.–Good day to you both.
Speed (Aside to the audience): Now that was clever. But he still doesn’t get it.
Valentine: That’s awfully strange. What do you make of that, Speed?
Speed: Why, sir, she had you write a love letter for her to an unknown gentleman–and then she gave it back to you. (Valentine looks perplexed.) You don’t get it?
Valentine: I have no idea what you mean.
Speed: She’s after you. She loves you.
Valentine: She does? How do you know?
Speed: She couldn’t write you a love letter herself. A proper lady can’t do that. And suppose it fell into the wrong hands? It would be a huge social embarrassment. So she has you write the letter for her. You give it to her, and she gives it back to you.
Valentine: But I didn’t even know who it was for–whom.
Speed: What’s the difference? It was a love letter from her–and she told you to keep it. And if you write another, keep that one, too, and it’s properly delivered. Don’t you see?
Valentine: Are you sure about all this?
Speed: Totally. She loves you.–Now let’s go to dinner.
Valentine: I’m not hungry.
Speed: Well, I am, so let’s go.
Act 2, Scene 2. In Verona. Proteus comes in with Julia.
Proteus: I hate to leave you, Julia. But I won’t be in Milan forever. I’ll come back as soon as I can.
Julia: I’ll try to be patient–but every day without you will be so lonely.–Here. I want you to have this ring so you’ll always think of me.
(She gives him a ring.)
Proteus: And you keep mine and think of me.
(He gives her a ring.)
Julia: Is this your promise–that I’m to wait for you?
Proteus: Yes. (They embrace.) We’re engaged now. I swear my love to you no matter how far apart we are. And if I’m ever untrue to you, may the devil come out of hell and take my soul.
Julia: You must go. If I delay you with kisses, your companions will be annoyed.–Goodbye, Proteus.
Proteus (After her, sadly): Goodbye.
(Pantino comes in.)
Pantino: There you are, sir. Come along now. The carriage is waiting for you.
Proteus: Yes, yes. Let’s go.
Act 2, Scene 3. Launce comes in with his dog, Crab. He looks very sad.
Launce: Do you realize how sad I am, you stupid dog? No, of course not. You have no heart. My mother cried, my father cried, my sister cried, and the maid cried–and even the cat. But not you. Do you understand we’re going to Milan? With Master Proteus? Just like that, with one day’s notice. That’s the life of a servant for you.–And don’t you dare complain about anything, that’s all I’ve got to say. I don’t want any problems with you.–I swear, you are a stupid dog.–Crab!–That’s your name. Do you know your own name–Crab?
(Pantino comes in.)
Pantino: Launce, come on, man! Proteus is waiting for you. If he leaves without you, you’ll be out of a job.
Launce: I’m leaving my family. I’m going so far away.
Pantino: Three days by carriage. Stop being so sad about it.
Launce: Why does he have to go to Milan anyway?
Pantino: It’ll be good for him, and you’ll serve him there the same way you serve him here. So what’s there to be sad about?
Launce: All right. But Crab’s coming, too.
Pantino: He’d better behave.
Launce: He will.–Come on, Crab.
(They leave. [Author’s note: In the original, Shakespeare has Launce and Proteus travel by boat! If you look at a map of Italy, you can see plainly that it’s a land trip.])
Act 2, Scene 4. In the court of the Duke of Milan. Valentine and Speed come in together, ahead of Sylvia and Thurio, who are together. Thurio is trying to impress her, but she is politely neutral. Speed is hanging closely on Valentine, talking to him privately. Valentine looks serious.
Speed (Aside to Valentine): Hey, boss, Thurio is trying to make a move on your girl.
Valentine (Aside to Speed): Yeah, I know.
Speed (Aside to Valentine): He made a face at you before, when you weren’t looking. Why don’t you punch him out?
Valentine (Aside to Speed): Gentlemen in the court don’t beat each other–except with words. Now you scoot.
Speed: Okay, boss.
Sylvia (To Valentine.): My new servant, you are not happy today.
Valentine: Oh, I am, madam.
Thurio: He appears what he is not, madam. Take note.
Valentine: So do you, Thurio.
Thurio: Me? In what way?
Valentine: You give the appearance of being smarter than you really are.
Thurio: Ha!–The sage from Verona!–If you tried to match my wit–or my money–you’d soon be bankrupt.
Valentine: You need a lot more than I do to get by.
Sylvia: Now, gentlemen, let’s not quarrel in my father’s court. We must all be friends.–Ah, here’s my father now.
(The Duke comes in.)
Duke: There you are, Sylvia–with not one, but two fine gentlemen to escort you–ha, ha!–Master Valentine, your father has written to say he is fine. And I have some news I think you will like.
Valentine: Yes, your Grace?
Duke: You know Don Antonio from Verona, don’t you?
Valentine: Yes, my lord. He’s the father of my best friend, Proteus.
Duke: And what can you tell me about Proteus?
Valentine: He’s a wonderful guy, my lord. You’d like him a lot if you met him.
Duke: Well, in fact I’m going to. He’s coming today to join you in the court as a gentleman servant. I’ve gotten excellent letters of recommendation about him.
Valentine: This is the best news, my lord. I’m very happy about this.
Duke: You make him feel welcome.–And you, too, Sylvia–and Thurio. Be nice to him.–I’ll see you later.
(The Duke leaves.)
Valentine: This is great!–Madam, I told you about Proteus. He would’ve come to Milan with me, except that he has, like, a girlfriend in Verona.
Sylvia: Maybe they broke up and that’s why he’s coming.
Valentine: I’m sure that’s not it. He’s totally sick in love with that girl.–Oh! Here he is!
(Proteus comes in. He and Valentine embrace and greet each other.)
Valentine: Madam, this is my friend Proteus.–Proteus, this is Lady Sylvia, the Duke’s daughter.
(Proteus is struck by her beauty, and there is a very brief pause before he kisses her hand.)
Proteus: Your servant, madam–now and forever.
Sylvia: You’re very welcome here, Master Proteus. Your friend Valentine speaks highly of you, and that’s good enough for me.
Valentine: Hire him, madam. You won’t be sorry.
Sylvia: Oh, but he should serve a queen, not a humble lady like me.
Proteus: You’re worth a hundred queens, madam. I am scarcely worthy to be in your presence.
Sylvia (Flattered): Oh, sir! Would you really want to serve an insignificant lady like me?
Proteus: I would strike any man who called you insignificant. It is I who must rise to be worthy of you.
(A Servant comes in.)
Servant: Madam, your father wishes to speak to you.
Sylvia: Yes, at once. (The Servant leaves.)–Thurio, come with me.–Proteus, I’ll leave you with Valentine for now. We’ll talk some more later.
Proteus: Yes, madam. Thank you.
(Sylvia and Thurio leave.)
Valentine: How are things in Verona?
Proteus: Great. You have regards from all your friends.
Valentine: And how’s your girlfriend?
Proteus: You mean Julia?
Valentine: Who else would I mean?
Proteus: Oh, you don’t want to hear about that stuff. You don’t believe in love.
Valentine: I didn’t used to, but now I do. I made fun of you back in Verona, and now you can make fun of me all you want, because I’m really hooked.
Proteus: With who?
Valentine: The boss lady. (He nods in the direction of Sylvia’s exit.)
(Proteus reacts as if unimpressed, but this is feigned.)
Proteus: Oh–well–she’s all right.
Valentine: All right? Get outa here. She’s a goddess. She’s the most beautiful woman in the world.
Proteus: Maybe second, after Julia.
Valentine: Okay, that’s fine. You stick with Julia. She can be maid of honour at the wedding.
Proteus: Whoa! Slow down, man. You’re getting married to Sylvia?
Valentine: It’s a secret. Don’t tell the Duke. He wants her to marry Thurio because he’s loaded. Sylvia and I are secretly engaged. We’re going to elope.
Proteus: Elope! Seriously?
Valentine: Yes. I have it all worked out. I’ve got a rope ladder, and I’m going to climb up to her bedroom and bring her down.–Listen, come back to my room with me. I want to talk this over with you.
Proteus: Oh, uh–later. I have to go and see to my accommodations and check on my guy, Launce.
Valentine: All right. I’d better go see what Thurio’s up to. I don’t trust that guy.
(Valentine leaves. [Author’s note: In the Folger edition, Speed leaves with Valentine at this point, but in the New Penguin edition, he leaves near the beginning of the scene. I have followed Penguin on this point because it seems more sensible. Shakespeare’s plays are loaded with little details like this, which editors disagree about, but you’re not aware of them unless you’re following different editions simultaneously. I’ve cited numerous examples in Shakespeare For White Trash.] There is a pause for effect. Proteus looks very serious. The following speech is spoken slowly.)
Proteus: Sylvia–Sylvia–why did I have to meet you now?–Everything is changed now.–Julia’s out.–And as for Valentine–he’s less a friend than a rival–and that’s how I intend to treat him from now on.–I want that woman. She’s a goddess, all right.–And I’ll do whatever it takes to get her.
(He walks out slowly.)
Act 2, Scene 5. Speed comes in, meeting Launce and his dog coming in, opposite.
Speed: Hey, Launce, welcome to Padua! [Author’s note: Shakespeare wrote “Padua” in the original, and no one knows why. The original has several geographical mistakes, so this scene does a spin on that.]
Speed: I mean Milan.–What the heck was I thinking?
Launce: You must have been thinking about Padua.
Speed: No, no.
Launce: You do know where you are, don’t you? You’re not stoned?
Speed: No, I’m not stoned. This is Milan.
Launce: Good, because I don’t know anyone in Padua.
Speed: Do you know anyone in Milan?
Launce: Only you–so far. So buy me a drink, okay?
Speed: Sure. I know a pub. But tell me, is your boss going to marry Julia?
Launce: I guess that depends on how they get on.
Speed: How do you mean?
Launce: If she gets on top and he doesn’t mind, they’ll probably get married.
Speed: Wise guy.
Launce: If he can–stand–for it! (He makes an obscene gesture with his groin.) I could–stand–for it! Couldn’t you?
Speed: You dope!
Speed: You’re a hoser. [Author’s note: Canadian slang for “jerk.”]
Launce: You’re another.
Speed: So are they getting married or not? And give me a straight answer.
Launce: Ask the dog. If he barks, it means yes. And if he wags his tail, that means yes, too.
Speed: How does he say no?
Launce: He never says no–at least not to me. After all, I’m the one who feeds him.
Speed: So I assume they’re getting married.
Launce: Assume what you like. I never tell a secret–except maybe in code.–Eh, Crab? What do you have to say?–He has nothing to say. He’s a discreet dog.
Speed: Yeah, I can tell.
Launce: So what’s up with your boss,Valentine?
Speed: He’s getting along really well here. In fact, he’s become quite a lover.
Launce: A lubber?
Speed: Lover, not blover–I mean, not blubber–I mean–
Launce: You’re all right. He’s not a blubber.
Speed: He’s a–lover.–There, I got it.
Launce: That’s new, isn’t it?
Speed: What is?
Launce: His being a lover. He wasn’t like that in Verona.
Speed: Well, he’s changed. Change of scenery. That must be it.
Launce: Good. So are you going to buy me a drink or not?
Speed: Of course. I know the best cheap pub in Mantua.
Speed: Fuck–not Mantua–Pantua–no, I mean–
Launce: You’re stoned, man.
Speed: Am not.
Launce: Sounds like it.
Speed: I don’t know where my brain is today.
Launce: Where did you last see it?
Speed: Very funny.–Right here in Pandua–oh, fuck.
Launce: I’m not drinking the water here, that’s for sure. I’m sticking to ale.
Speed: Milan!–There. It’s Milan. Mi-lan.
Launce: You’re all right. Just lead and we’ll follow.–Come on, Crab.
Act 2, Scene 6. Proteus comes in alone.
Proteus: Valentine’s in my way. I’ve got to get rid of him.–I’ll tell the Duke they’re going to elope. He’ll banish him for sure.–As for Thurio, I’ll have to think of some way to trip him up. (Longer pause) Why am I doing all this?–Because I want Sylvia. I’ve got to have her.–Is love a bad thing? No. Love justifies anything. So if I have to treat other people badly for the sake of love, that’s okay.–And if somebody up there brought me this far, let them help me get to the end of this.
Act 2, Scene 7. In Verona — Julia’s house. Julia and Lucetta come in.
Julia: I have to go and see Proteus. Think of some way I can go.
Lucetta: It’s a long trip for a woman traveling by herself–and hardly appropriate for a proper lady. You should just wait for him to come back.
Julia: I can’t wait any longer. I can’t stand being without him. I have to go.
Lucetta: You shouldn’t let your emotions drag you away on a misadventure.
Julia: I live in my emotions. I live to love Proteus. I’ll do anything to be with him.
Lucetta: A lady can’t go by herself. It’s not safe.
Julia: I’ll dress like a man. That’s what I’ll do.
Lucetta: And cut your hair?
Julia: My hair? Goodness, no. I’ll tie it up and wear a cap over it.
Lucetta: If you’re going to dress like a man, you’ll have to wear a codpiece.
Julia: A codpiece? Oh, no. That’s too gross.
Lucetta: It’s a standard part of a gentleman’s attire. You’ve got to wear it.
Julia: All right. I’ll rely on you to dress me so I can pass as a man. I just hope I don’t ruin my reputation by going.
Lucetta: It doesn’t matter what other people think. It only matters what Proteus thinks.
Julia: I’m sure he’ll be glad to see me. I mean, after all, we are engaged. And he said such loving things to me when he left–how he’d always be faithful.
Lucetta: Men are changeable creatures, even when they’re not lying. You mustn’t have too much faith in them.
Julia: That may be true of some men, but not Proteus. I have total faith in him, and you must, too.
Lucetta: I just don’t want you to be hurt, madam.
Julia: Proteus is pure in his heart. He’s like an angel. Whatever he says, I believe. He’s not capable of being false.
Lucetta: I truly hope you’re right, madam.
Julia: Come and help me get ready. I’m very impatient. I want to get going.
Act 3, Scene 1. The Duke’s court in Milan. The Duke comes in with Proteus.
Proteus: My lord, I have to tell you something–only you mustn’t think the worse of me for it. It’s very difficult for me because it involves my friend Valentine. But as a matter of duty I have to tell you.
Duke: All right. I’m listening.
Proteus: Valentine has been seeing Sylvia secretly. In fact, they plan to elope–tonight.
Duke: Huh–I had a feeling something was going on between them, but I didn’t want to confront him without being sure. You’re a good man to come forward like this and tell me. I won’t forget your loyalty.
Proteus: Thank you, my lord.
Duke: Sylvia’s on an upper floor. I can have her watched. She won’t be able to leave the house or receive anyone without my knowing.
Proteus: But I know Valentine’s plan, sir. They’re going to use a rope ladder to get her down by the window.
Duke: Ah! Really!
Proteus: Yes. And I know for a fact he’ll be carrying it under his coat right now. You can intercept him and see for yourself. Only don’t make it obvious I told you. I don’t want him to think I’ve betrayed him.
Duke: I understand perfectly. Leave it to me. I’ll handle it in my own way. You won’t be implicated.
Proteus: Thank you, sir. I’d better leave now.
Duke: Yes, yes. You go on.
(Proteus leaves. Then Valentine come in, looking somewhat nervous and in a hurry.)
Duke: Valentine, what’s your hurry?
Valentine: Oh–my lord–em, there’s a messenger waiting for me. I have to give him some letters.
Duke: That can wait. I just wanted to talk to you about something personal. And I’m sure I can trust you to keep this between us.
Valentine: Of course, my lord.
Duke: I’m sure you know I want my daughter to marry Thurio.
Valentine: Yes, my lord. And I agree it’s a good match–assuming, of course that she likes him–which I’m not entirely sure of.
Duke: That’s the problem. She just doesn’t want to marry him. And I’m very disappointed about that. And I’m disappointed in her. You understand that in matters of marriage–and I mean particularly in noble society–it’s the responsibility of parents to find a suitable match for their children.
Valentine: Yes. Absolutely.
Duke: And the children have a duty to obey their parents.
Duke: After all, what do young people know about love? Their emotions are all over the place. They can’t judge calmly. But parents have wisdom and experience. And the children should trust the choice of the parents. It doesn’t have to start with love. It usually doesn’t. But if the choice is wise, love will follow. And that’s the plain truth about life and about love and marriage.
Valentine: My lord, I absolutely, totally agree with you.
Duke: So I’ve decided that if Sylvia won’t obey me, she won’t get any dowry. If she thinks she can get a husband without a dowry, let her try. She can marry anyone she wants, but she won’t get a penny out of me.
Valentine: It’s her loss, sir. And I think you’re doing the right thing.
Duke: Glad to hear you say so.–As for me–well, if my daughter leaves me, I think I should marry again. I’m not too old, and I don’t want to be alone.
Valentine: Good idea, sir. Do you have anyone in mind?
Duke: Yes. There’s a lady I like very much. But to be quite honest, I think I’ve lost the knack for courtship. And times have changed since I was a young man. People probably do things a bit differently now. So that’s why I wanted your advice. What should I do to win this woman over?
Valentine: Win her with gifts, I suppose. All women like gifts.
Duke: I tried that. I sent her a nice gift, but she sent it back.
Valentine: Ah, that’s just a woman’s trick. When they pretend they’re not interested, it means you should try harder. It excites them. So you mustn’t give up.
Duke: Ah, so when they say no, it means yes, is that it?
Valentine: No can mean yes or maybe. Either way, if you’re really determined, you can win her over.
Duke: I see.–Unfortunately, her relatives have fixed her up with a rich, young man, and they’ve made it impossible for anyone to get near her.
Valentine: So visit her at night.
Duke: It’s impossible. She’s being kept behind locked doors.
Valentine: So go in through the window.
Duke: She’s on an upper floor, and there’s no way to climb up.
(Brief pause, suggesting Valentine is being cautious.)
Valentine: You could use a rope ladder.
Duke: A rope ladder! Why didn’t I think of that? Where could I get one?
Valentine: How soon would you need it?
Valentine: Tonight?–Hmm.–I could get you one by, let’s say, nine o’clock.
Duke: How will I carry it?
Valentine: Just stick it under your coat. It’s not that heavy.
Duke: Really? So, I could carry it under a coat like yours, for example?
Duke: Let me see how much room there is under your coat.
(He opens Valentine’s coat, and a rope ladder and a letter fall to the floor. Valentine is too shocked to speak. The Duke picks up the letter and the rope, then studies the letter.)
Duke (Reading): “To Sylvia–” (He continues reading silently, frowning all the while, then looks harshly at Valentine.) So–Master Valentine–this is how you repay my kindness.
Valentine: My lord, I–I’m at a loss for words.
Duke: There’s nothing you can say anyway. You’ve deceived me. You’re a traitor, a liar, and a phony. I don’t want you in my court. You’re banished. In fact, you’re banished from all of Milan. I order you to leave my court within the hour. And if I ever find you in Milan again, God have mercy on you.
(The Duke leaves, taking the rope ladder and letter with him.)
Valentine: I might as well be sentenced to death. To leave here and never see Sylvia again–that’s the same as death.
(There is a silent pause, which is needed to fill time. Then Proteus and Launce come in hurriedly.)
Proteus: Valentine! We’ve just heard the news!
Valentine: News about what?
Launce: There’s a proclamation that you’re banished, sir.
(Valentine nods sadly.)
Proteus: This is terrible! I’m so, so, so sorry for you!
Valentine: Does Sylvia know?
Proteus: Yes. She protested against it, and the Duke put her under house arrest. [Author’s note: In the original, Sylvia is put in prison, but this causes confusion later on as to where she actually is.]
Valentine: I might as well be dead. There’s nothing for me to live for.
Proteus: Don’t say that. The only thing to do now is just to accept it and hope that somehow everything will work out later. If you want to write to Sylvia, send the letters to me and I’ll see that she gets them.
Valentine: I appreciate that. You’ve always been a true friend, Proteus.
Proteus: Hey, for you I’d do anything. Tell you what, I’ll escort you to the city gate.
Valentine: Okay.–Launce, do me a favour and look for my servant, Speed. Tell him to meet me at the north gate.
Launce: I’ll do that, sir. Trust me.
(Valentine and Proteus go out.)
Launce: Well, I may be a fool, but I have enough wits to know that my boss is a son of a bitch. But that’s his business. I’m keeping my mouth shut–for now.
(Speed comes in.)
Speed: Launce, wassup?
Launce: Speed, you’re to meet your boss at the north gate.
Speed: What for?
Launce: He’s been banished.
Launce: Kicked out. Evicted. He’s no longer welcome in Milan.
Speed: Holy shit! How did this happen?
Launce: He’ll tell you. Now you’d better make speed–Speed.
Speed: Okay, I will.–Tsk!–God!–Banished!–See you later–I hope.
Launce: Good luck.
(Speed runs out.)
Act 3, Scene 2. The Duke comes in with Thurio.
Duke: Don’t worry, Thurio. Now that Valentine’s gone, my daughter may reconsider.
Thurio: But she hates me now more than ever.
Duke: It’s just a reaction. It’ll pass. Once she gets over Valentine, you’ll have a good chance to marry her.
(Proteus comes in.)
Duke: So–he’s gone, is he?
Proteus: Yes, my lord. I saw him off personally.
Duke: Sylvia’s taking it hard.
Proteus: It’ll pass.
Duke: That’s what I just told Thurio, but he’s still discouraged.
Thurio: She hates me. What can I do?
Duke: What can we do for Thurio? Suggest something.
Proteus: Well, you could make up some bad stuff about Valentine. Like, make him out to be a liar and a coward, and so forth–and say something bad about his family. Make her believe he’s not the great guy she thought.
Duke: If I said that, she would just dismiss it as a lot of slander. She wouldn’t believe it.
Proteus: I suppose.–However–if she heard it from a friend of his, she’d take it seriously.
Duke: Yes. That makes sense. Then you do it. You were his best friend–and I guess you still are.
Proteus: Yes, my lord, I am.–But my conscience would bother me. I mean, to slander a guy I’ve known all my life. I just couldn’t–unless I had to, of course–that is, if you told me to, let’s say.
Duke: Yes, I want you to. And look at it this way. If your praise couldn’t do him any good at this point, your slander couldn’t do him any harm either–I mean, as far as I’m concerned.
Proteus: You have a point, my lord.
Duke: And don’t let your conscience bother you about it. I don’t question your integrity for a moment.
Proteus: Thank you, my lord. I’ll speak to Sylvia. But even if I can turn her against Valentine, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll love Thurio.
Thurio: Then you must try to praise me as much as you slander Valentine.
Proteus: I can try.
Duke: I know you can do this, Proteus. I know you’re very sincere in matters of love. Valentine always said so. So you’ll help Thurio with this.
Proteus: Of course.
Duke: Sylvia’s under house arrest in the tower, but you’ll have access to her. She’ll be allowed to talk to you.
Proteus: I’ll do my best. But Thurio has to make an effort, too. (To Thurio) You’ve been too passive. You have to try harder.
Thurio: Like how? I’ve bought her good stuff–really expensive stuff.
Proteus: Young women aren’t so impressed with that. They’re sentimental. They like things that are romantic–like love songs and poems. You know, mushy stuff.
Thurio: That could be a good idea. But I’m not the creative type. I wouldn’t know how to make up a poem or a song.
Proteus: It’s just a matter of stringing together a lot of cliches and making them rhyme. You could talk about making a sacrifice on the altar of her beauty–and tears flowing from your eyes like a river of sorrow–and your sighs and moans, and how even the animals in the woods pity you. Like, you’re totally in pain because you ache for her love–stuff like that.
Thurio: Huh.–Yes.–I think I get it.
Proteus: And how about serenading her–with a mandolin or something?
Thurio: I don’t know how to play anything.
Proteus: That’s okay. Just hire some musicians and have them play under her window. They’ve got hundreds of songs in their heads. They do this sort of thing for a living, you know. They just fill in the blanks with the lady’s name, get it? And they can play any style of music.
Duke: You sound like you know a lot about this sort of thing.
Proteus: Oh, just a little.
Thurio: Sounds like a good idea to me. I’m ready to do it tonight–if you can help me find some musicians.
Proteus: No problem. We’ll go now if you like.
Duke: Good luck!
(Proteus and Thurio leave.)
Act 4, Scene 1. On a road. Valentine and Speed come in from one side and encounter three Outlaws coming in from the other side.
Speed: Boss! Outlaws!
1st Outlaw: Stop! Stand and deliver!
Valentine: Don’t rob us! We have nothing!
2nd Outlaw: You look like a gentleman to me. And you have a servant. So you must have money.
Valentine: I’ve been banished from Milan. My page and I have nothing but the clothes on our backs.
3rd Outlaw: What were you banished for?
Valentine: Em–(He looks at Speed for help.)
Speed: It was murder.
1st Outlaw: Murder?
Other Outlaws: Oooh!
Valentine: Well, em–yes, technically I suppose it could be called murder.
1st Outlaw: Why did you do it?
(Valentine looks at Speed again for help.)
Speed: It was a matter of honour.
Valentine: Em–yes. It was.
1st Outlaw: Honour about what?
Speed: Some villain insulted his hat.
Valentine: Yes. Right.
2nd Outlaw: Hypersensitive, are you?
Valentine: Em–yes, I suppose. I’m not defending what I did, mind you. I’m just saying it couldn’t be helped. Happened so fast–ha, ha. After that, of course, I was cast out.
3rd Outlaw: We know the feeling, sir. Some of our gang are gentlemen, too, and we’ve suffered as you have from cruel circumstances.
1st Outlaw: Where are you going?
Valentine: We were on our way to Verona.
1st Outlaw: Bit of a trip.–Have you traveled much?
Valentine: Oh, sure. Here and there.
(The First Outlaw huddles quickly with the other two. There is a brief private conversation.)
1st Outlaw: Can you speak different languages, sir?
Valentine: Why, yes. I can speak Italian, French, Spanish, English, and a bit of German. Why?
1st Outlaw: Would you like to be our leader? We need someone multilingual.
2nd Outlaw: You meet all kinds of travelers these days–all different nationalities–and if you can talk to them in their own language, it’s easier to rob them.
3rd Outlaw: It’s a courtesy. They appreciate it.
2nd Outlaw: Of course, if they’re talking some gibberish that doesn’t sound like a proper language, we just assume they’re gypsies and we kill them.
(Speed nods to the audience and gives a thumbs-up.)
1st Outlaw: So how about it? We have lots of good loot at our hideout. You can help yourself to anything you like.
Valentine: Let me confer with my page.
(Valentine confers briefly with Speed.)
Valentine: Em–do we have a choice on this?
(The First Outlaw looks to the others before replying.)
1st Outlaw: Not as such. No.
Valentine: Then I accept. The only thing I will insist on is that there must be no molestation of women or harming the poor.
1st Outlaw: Fine. We’re with you on that. Now come along with us, and we’ll introduce you to the rest of the gang.
Valentine: Okay.–Come on, Speed.
(As they all leave, Speed gives another thumbs-up to the audience. [Author’s note: Speed is not seen again after this, and Shakespeare does not give any explanation.])
Act 4, Scene 2. In front of the tower where Sylvia is kept. Proteus comes in.
Proteus: I’m not getting anywhere with Sylvia. She won’t have me. And she accuses me of betraying Valentine–and Julia–which is true, of course.–And now it’s Thurio’s turn to get thrown under the carriage, because I’m not giving up.
(Thurio comes in with the Musicians.)
Thurio: Proteus, you’re here early.
Proteus: Yes, I had a brief word with Sylvia. I told her how bad Valentine was and how great you are.
Thurio: And what did she say?
Proteus: Oh–I would say she’s considering.
Thurio: Ah, splendid! Where is she?
Proteus: She’s inside. She’ll be listening, don’t worry.
Thurio: Good.–Musicians, you can tune up.
(The Musicians are tuning their instruments. At the other side of the stage, by the wing, Julia appears with the Host, who is an innkeeper. Julia is disguised as a man. She looks unhappy. Her conversation with the Host is aside from the others onstage. She doesn’t see Proteus yet, because the Musicians are blocking her view. [Author’s note: Since Julia is now posing as Sebastian, her speech prefix will be “Sebastian.”])
Host: You needn’t be sad any more, sir. They’re going to play some music here, and you’ll see your friend that you were looking for.
Sebastian: I hope so.
(The Musicians begin to play and Proteus sings, which causes Julia to react with a look of shock.)
Who’s the lady we adore
And camp all night before her door?
Who has beauty, style, and grace
And makes us dream of her embrace?
Fairer than fair, truer than true,
Lips made for kissing, and eyes so blue–
Sebastian (Aside to the Host): Why is Proteus singing about Sylvia? Does he love her?
Host: Yes. He’s crazy about her. (Julia reacts by covering her face and looking away, trying not to betray herself.) That’s what his servant Launce told me. Proteus ordered him to give his dog as a present to Sylvia, and Launce was very upset about it. In fact, I don’t think they’re together any more.
Thurio (To Proteus): That’s a good song. You’re really clever at this.
Proteus: It’s all for your sake, my friend. You just leave it to me and she’ll be all yours.
Thurio: Isn’t she coming to the window to talk to me?
Proteus: I still have to work on her some more. You can go back now and take the musicians. I’ll see you later.
Thurio: Okay. Thanks a lot.–Come on, fellas. Good job.
(Thurio and the Musicians leave. Then Sylvia appears at the window.)
Sylvia: Was someone playing for me?
Proteus: Yes, madam.
Sylvia: And were you singing for me?
Proteus: Who else would sing to you of love?
Sylvia: Anyone as false as you.
Proteus: Madam, how can you say that?
Sylvia: I know you betrayed Valentine. You’re the only one he would have trusted. There’s no other way my father could have known.
Proteus: Madam, it was for your own good. I’m much better for you than Valentine is.
Sylvia: And am I better for you than Julia–your girlfriend in Verona–whom you were engaged to marry?
Proteus: Forget about her. She’s dead.
Sylvia: So you say. And what about Valentine?
Proteus: He’s dead, too.
Sylvia: If he’s dead, then my love is buried with him in his grave.
Proteus: Then let me dig it out and bring it back.
Proteus: Why won’t you give me a chance?
Sylvia: I could never love you. Go away. I don’t believe anything you say.
Proteus: All right. I’ll go away if that’s what you want. But grant me one little favour. Let me at least have a little picture of you–to carry close to my heart.
Sylvia: A picture? Yes, you can have a picture. That’s as close as you’ll ever get to me. Come back tomorrow and I’ll give you one, and you can speak all your sweet lies to it, and I won’t have to hear them. Good night. And goodbye.
(Sylvia leaves the window, and then Proteus leaves.)
Sebastian: Where is Proteus staying?
Host: At my inn.–You don’t look well, sir. Are you all right?
Sebastian: Just tired. I’ve had a long trip, that’s all.
Host: A good sleep will put you right. Come along. I’ll walk back with you.
Act 4, Scene 3. Outside the tower. Eglamour comes in quietly.
Eglamour (Calling softly): Madam Sylvia!–Madam Sylvia!
(Sylvia appears at the window.)
Sylvia: Eglamour! Thank God!
Eglamour: I came as soon as I got your message.
Sylvia: Oh, thank you! Eglamour, I need your help.
Eglamour: Anything for you, madam.
Sylvia: You’re the only one I can trust. You know about my relationship with Valentine, don’t you?
Eglamour: Yes, madam.
Sylvia: And you know my father wants to marry me off to Thurio, and I can’t stand him.
Eglamour: Yes, madam.
Sylvia: You understand my feelings, Eglamour. You, of all people–from your own past misfortunes.
Eglamour: I do indeed, madam.
Sylvia: I have information that Valentine is in Mantua. I need you to take me to him. I couldn’t possibly go alone. You must help me to escape. Please. I beg you.
Eglamour: I’ll help you, madam. Your father may kick me out of Milan for this, but I’m on your side. When do you want to go?
Sylvia: Tomorrow night. Meet me outside of Friar Patrick’s cell at sunset. I’m supposed to go there for confession.
Eglamour: Trust me, madam. I’ll be there.
Sylvia: Thank you, Eglamour. Until tomorrow.
Eglamour: Good night, madam.
(They leave, she within the tower.)
Act 4, Scene 4. (Author’s note: This scene has gotten a major overhaul. Launce has been deleted, and the staging problem has been fixed. Launce is not seen again after this point. In the original, he quarrels with Proteus in this scene. The quarrel was referred to in 4.2 instead.) Outside the tower. Proteus comes in with Sebastian, who is Julia in disguise.
Proteus: You’re a good guy, Sebastian. I like you. How would you like to be my page?
Sebastian: All right. I’ll do whatever I can for you.
Proteus: I need someone sweet and innocent like you. I have a personal matter I need you to help me with–concerning a lady.
Sebastian: I understand.
Proteus: I have this ring here, and I want you to give it to Madam Sylvia for me. Also this letter. (He gives Sebastian the ring and letter.) And she’s supposed to give me a picture of her.
Sebastian (Recognizing the ring): This is a lovely ring, sir. Did you buy it for her?
Proteus: No. Actually, it was given to me by another lady. But we split up, so there’s no point in keeping it.
Sebastian: Tsk!–Too bad.
Proteus: Why do you say that?
Sebastian: I feel sorry for her. She probably still loves you.
Proteus: It’s possible. But Sylvia’s the one I love now. You’re a man. You can understand these things.
Sebastian: I certainly do. And does Sylvia love you?
Proteus: Not yet, but I’m working on her. She won’t speak to me at the moment, so I need you to give her the ring and the letter. You can do this, can’t you?
Sebastian: Of course, sir.
Proteus: Good. I’ll leave you to it then. She’s up there.
Sebastian: My sweet, little ring–given with all my love–and all my faith.–And now he wants to give it to a lady who doesn’t even love him.–Poor, little ring. You are so abused.–And now I must be the messenger from the one who abandoned me to my rival. I should never have left Verona. The truth can be worse than not knowing.
(Sylvia appears at the window.)
Sylvia: Who are you, sir?
Sebastian: My name is Sebastian. I am sent by Master Proteus to deliver something to Madam Sylvia–if that is you.
Sylvia: I am Sylvia. I suppose he wants that picture.
Sebastian: Yes, madam. And I have something to deliver to you.
Sylvia: I’m in detention up here, but I can come down to you just for a minute.
Sebastian: Thank you, madam.
(Sylvia leaves the window and then comes in below with Attendants.)
Sylvia: You may give this to Master Proteus.
(Sylvia gives Sebastian the picture, which is very small and encased like a locket.)
Sebastian: Thank you, madam. He sends you this letter.
(Sebastian gives Sylvia the letter. She tears it in half without reading it.)
Sylvia: The words of a liar are not worth reading.
Sebastian: And he sends you this ring, madam.
(Sebastian gives Sylvia the ring.)
Sylvia: I know where this comes from. This is the ring given to him by his beloved Julia in Verona. He told me about her. He should feel very guilty to give me this ring, and I would feel very guilty to accept it. It would be like slapping Julia in the face, and I won’t do that to a lady I never met, and one who is probably a very good, decent, kind-hearted lady. You take it back.
(Sylvia returns the ring to Sebastian.)
Sebastian: I thank you for that, madam.
Sylvia: Why do you thank me?
Sebastian: I know Julia, and she is just as you describe her. If she were here, she would thank you for being so gracious.
Sylvia: What really happened between them? He told me she was dead, but I don’t believe it.
Sebastian: He swore his love for her and then abandoned her–for you.
Sylvia: I suspected as much. Does she know he’s abandoned her?
Sebastian: I believe she knows by now, madam.
Sylvia: She must be devastated.
Sebastian: I believe she is, madam.
Sylvia: Tell me, is she beautiful?
Sebastian: She was beautiful, but I believe this tragedy has affected her and she doesn’t look so beautiful any more.
Sylvia: Have you known her a long time?
Sebastian: Since childhood, madam.
Sylvia: I can tell you’re a devoted friend to her–and I think you’re a very honourable gentleman. I’m glad I met you. Let me give you this. (She gives Sebastian a small purse of money.) A kindness from me to you–for your devotion to Julia. And may she yet find the happiness she deserves.
Sebastian (Holding back tears): Thank you, madam. And if you ever meet Julia, she will thank you herself.
Sylvia: I must return now. Goodbye.
(Sylvia and her Attendants leave–i.e., within the tower.)
Sebastian: A gracious lady. (She looks at the picture.) My rival. Is she fairer than me? I don’t think so.–To think that this picture attracts the love that I no longer attract. Which is the image, and which is the real person?–Little picture, for the sake of your mistress, whom I respect, I’ll treat you decently.
Act 5, Scene 1. Outside Friar Patrick’s cell at sunset. Eglamour comes in. He paces a bit, waiting for Sylvia. Then she comes in.
Sylvia (In a hushed voice): Eglamour!
Eglamour: Ah, there you are, madam.
Sylvia: Listen, I’m sure I’ve been followed. The only way we can escape is to slip out by the back gate.
Eglamour: Okay. The light’s fading, so that’ll help. It’s about six miles to the forest. If we can get there, you’re free. Come on.
Act 5, Scene 2. Thurio and Proteus come in, along with Sebastian, who is Julia in disguise.
Thurio (Eagerly): Well? How did it go? What did she say?
Proteus: I would say she doesn’t have any extreme objections to you. So it’s not so bad.
Proteus: I think the main problem is physical attraction.
Thurio: Why? Doesn’t she like my face?
Proteus: Oh, she says it’s fair.
Thurio: Fair? Not with my complexion. I’m dark.
Proteus: Not dark enough. You should try to be darker. Some white girls go for, uh–ebony shades–if you get my drift–ha, ha.
Thurio: Well, I don’t know if I want to look like one of those. But what does she think of my speech?
Proteus: It’s fine–as long as you speak as little as possible.
Thurio: Oh–well, I’ll try. But how about my courage? Does she think I’m brave?
Proteus: She’s willing to assume that much–based on no evidence either way.
Thurio: I see.–And how about my birth–you know, my family lineage and so forth?
Proteus: She thinks you were quite properly born.
(Thurio is slightly puzzled by that.)
Thurio: Well, then–what about my possessions?
Proteus: She asked me if they were rented.
Proteus: I said renting was socially okay. Plenty of rich people do it.
Thurio: They do?
Proteus: It’s all right. She didn’t mind.
Thurio: So–overall–how do you think I’m doing with her?
Proteus: Not too bad, not too bad. It’s a process. Give it time.
Thurio: Well, I sure appreciate your help.
(The Duke comes in.)
Duke: Have any of you seen Eglamour?
Proteus: I haven’t.
Duke: Or my daughter?
Proteus and Thurio: No.
Duke: She never came back from confession.–That means they’ve escaped–the two of them.
Thurio: Sylvia and Eglamour? Escaped?
Duke: Yes. Friar Lawrence saw them in the forest. Or at least he saw Eglamour with a lady, and she looked like Sylvia. And Friar Patrick says she never showed up for confession.
Proteus: What’ll we do, my lord?
Duke: We have to go out and look for her. Get your horses.
Proteus: But where are we supposed to look?
Duke: Friar Lawrence said they were headed in the direction of Mantua. We’ll try to catch up with them. Meet me at the gate.
(The Duke leaves.)
Thurio: What a foolish girl to run from me like that! I thought you said I was doing all right with her.
Proteus: Blame it on Eglamour. He helped her escape.
Thurio: Wait till I get my hands on him! I’m getting my horse now!
Proteus: What a hero. (To Sebastian) I’m joking, of course. Come on. You stick with me. I may need your help.
(Proteus leaves, but Sebastian lingers just for a moment.)
Sebastian: You’ll get more hindrance than help from me.
(Sebastian leaves, following.)
Act 5, Scene 3. In the forest. The Outlaws come in holding Sylvia captive.
1st Outlaw: It’s all right, miss. No one’s going to hurt you. We’re just taking you to our captain.
Sylvia: I’m not afraid of you. I’m not a wimp.
2nd Outlaw: Ha!–Unlike your escort. What’s his name?
Sylvia: Sir Eglamour.
1st Outlaw: Sir? He’s no gentleman to run away and leave you like that.
3rd Outlaw: All I did was growl at him.
2nd Outlaw: He probably soiled his pants.
3rd Outlaw: He should be called Sir Egg McMuffin.
1st Outlaw: You see, miss? It just goes to show you. Even a gentleman can’t be trusted these days.
Sylvia: I’ve learned that the hard way.
1st Outlaw: Don’t you worry, though. The captain doesn’t intend to do you any harm. He’ll just want to figure out what you’re worth in ransom–ha, ha!
Sylvia: I’m not worth much. My father’s so angry with me he may not pay anything to get me back.
1st Outlaw: In that case we’ll keep you as a cook–ha, ha!
2nd Outlaw: And for laundry–ha, ha!
3rd Outlaw: And for mending–ha, ha!
Sylvia (Aside): Oh, Valentine–if you only knew what I’ve gone through for you.
(They all leave.)
Act 5, Scene 4. In the forest. Valentine comes in alone.
Valentine: I think I’m getting used to this. In fact, I think I like it better out here than in a town–the trees, the birds, the gurgling streams–and the solitude. I could live here–if I had Sylvia.
(Sounds of fighting are heard. The Outlaws are fighting with someone. Valentine conceals himself. [Author’s note: Shakespeare’s staging here is awkward. Valentine is not hiding out of fear. He is being cautious and curious.] Then Proteus, Sylvia, and Sebastian come in. Proteus is brushing himself off, after his fight with the outlaws.)
Proteus: You’re safe now, madam.
Sylvia (Coldly): Thank you.
Proteus: Is that all I get for saving you from those outlaws?
Sylvia: What more do you expect from me?
Proteus: How about a nice smile–with some love in it?
Sylvia: I can’t smile if I’m still unhappy. And my love is not for you.
Proteus: Where’s your gratitude? This is where the hero is supposed to get a big kiss. Don’t you read romantic stories?
Sylvia: Do you expect me to love you out of gratitude when I rejected you long ago? I’m not that shallow. And as for kisses, the only one I will ever kiss is Valentine–if I ever see him again.
Proteus: You’re crazy not to know who really loves you.
Sylvia: And who really loves you? Julia. And how did you treat her? You ditched her. And what about Valentine? He was your best friend and you betrayed him so you could have me.
Proteus: Love before friendship. That’s the way it is.
Sylvia: Speak for yourself.
Proteus: Hey, I don’t have to argue with you. I could have you right now.
(Proteus grabs her. She resists.)
Proteus: A little loving will change your mind!
(He tries to take her by force, and she screams. Valentine jumps out of concealment.)
Valentine: Get your hands off her!
(Proteus lets go of her. He is too stunned to speak.)
Valentine: So much for friendship. I believed in you. Even after I was exiled, I still believed you were my friend. Now I had to see with my own eyes what sort of friend you really are–you traitor. You scoundrel.
Proteus: Valentine, I–
Valentine: It’s true what they say. No enemy can hurt you the way a friend can hurt you.
(A pause for effect. Proteus is overcome with shame.)
Proteus: I’m sorry.–I’m so ashamed.–I know you’ll never forgive me.–I don’t deserve to be forgiven.–I’ve been so wrong–so stupidly wrong.
Valentine: So you haven’t lost your soul after all.
Proteus: My soul is damned. I’m guilty. And I’m sorry.
Valentine: The soul that repents is forgiven. And hearing you repent is like getting back a friend I thought was lost.
Proteus: Do you mean it?
Valentine: Yes, I mean it. And I’ll prove it. As one friend to another, you can have anything you want from me–including Sylvia.
Proteus: My page!
(Valentine and Proteus both bend down to help Sebastian.)
Valentine: What’s the matter, boy? Come on, get up. Come on.
(They pull Sebastian to his feet.)
Valentine: What did you faint for?
Sebastian: I, uh–I just remembered that I forgot to give a ring to Madam Sylvia that my master asked me to deliver.
Proteus: Where is it?
(Sebastian reaches into his pocket and gives Proteus the wrong ring by mistake.)
Sebastian: Here it is.
Proteus: This? This isn’t the ring. This is the ring I gave to Julia before I left Verona.
Sebastian: Oh, sir, my mistake!–Here’s the ring you meant for Madam Sylvia.
(Sebastian gives Proteus the other ring. Proteus looks at them and is puzzled.)
Proteus: Sebastian, how is it that you had both these rings? How could you have gotten this one? (Indicating the ring given to Julia)
Sebastian: I got it from–Julia.
(Julia removes her disguise–i.e., removes her cap and lets her hair down.)
Julia: Surprised to see me? (Proteus is too stunned to answer.) I disguised myself and came to Milan because I couldn’t live without you. And what did I find? I found that you had betrayed me–after all your promises to me.
(Proteus bursts into tears.)
Proteus: Julia!–I’ve been such a fool!
Julia: You must really have been blind not to know it was me. Or did you need to carry a picture instead?
Proteus: I was blind. But now I can see clearly again.–Oh, Julia!
(Proteus takes her hand tentatively, not knowing if she forgives him. When she gives him an affectionate touch, he embraces her.)
Valentine: That’s more like it. I think we’ve saved these two.
(The Outlaws come in noisily, leading in Thurio and the Duke as prisoners.)
1st Outlaw: Oy! Hostages, Captain! They’ll be worth some ransom!
Valentine (To the Outlaws): Let them go. I know them. This one’s my lord the Duke.
(The Outlaws release the Duke and Thurio.)
Duke: Valentine! What are you doing here?
Valentine: After you banished me, I fell in with these outlaws purely by chance.
Duke: Sylvia! What happened to you?
Sylvia: I was captured and Eglamour ran away. Then Proteus–(Pause)–rescued me, and we ran into Valentine–purely by chance.
Thurio: And purely by chance I’ve found you again, Sylvia! Finally!
Valentine: Forget it, Thurio. Sylvia’s mine–unless you want to duel it out for her.
Thurio: Duel it out? Certainly not. What do you think I am–crazy? I like her a lot, but I’m not going to risk my life for her.
Duke: Well!–This is a revelation. I can see I was wrong about you, Thurio. You’re not the husband for my daughter.–Valentine, I never should have banished you. I made a mistake. I’m sorry. You’re a good man. The best. And as of now you are–Sir Valentine–and my future son-in-law.
(Sylvia goes to Valentine, and they embrace.)
Valentine: My lord, you’ve made us both very happy. And now I have one little favour to ask.
Duke: For you, anything.
Valentine: These outlaws have been good to me, and I know they’re not evil men. They deserve a second chance. Please pardon them for whatever they’ve done and let them return to society and lead normal lives again.
Duke: If you say so, I trust you. Consider it done. They’re pardoned.
(The Outlaws cheer.)
Duke: Now let’s all go back home and celebrate.
Valentine: Oh, by the way–(He puts his hand on Julia’s shoulder.) What do you think of Proteus’s new page?
Duke: Page, is he?–Hmm–well, he has a codpiece but–I don’t know.–I guess I’d say the boy has grace.
Valentine: More grace than codpiece.
Duke: Eh? What do you mean?
Valentine: I’ll tell you on the way, my lord. It’s a fantastic story. No one would believe it. It’s all about the twisted, tangled paths of love.
(They start walking out.)
Duke: And where do they lead?
Valentine: In this case, to a happy ending.
Copyright@ 2012 by Crad Kilodney. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org