It is commonly said that William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd. It is also commonly said that he died on his birthday, April 23rd. Today is the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. He is known for writing plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Everyone has heard of Shakespeare, most people probably are forced to read his plays in school, but is there more to Shakespeare’s works than his well-known plays? The answer is yes, of course. Shakespeare wrote more than two dozen plays, and well over one hundred and thirty sonnets. My current favorite Shakespeare play, and one of my absolute favorite plays is the Two Gentlemen of Verona. This post is going to talk about this uncommon play. Whether you’re a student, Shakespeare fanatic, or just randomly found this post, you’re going to learn something from this.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona follows the love story of two best friends and their ladies. It is an extremely complicated story (but aren’t all of Shakespeare plays like this?), but a quick and to the point summary is below. This is by no means a complete summary, but I still must say: THIS SUMMARY WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS.
Proteus and Valentine are two best friends from Verona. Proteus loves Julia, who also loves him. In the beginning, Valentine does not understand love. Valentine goes away to Milan and falls in love with the daughter of the Duke of Milan, Silvia. Silvia is betrothed to Sir Thurio but loves Valentine. Proteus comes to Milan and instantaneously falls in love with Silvia, but conceals it from his friend. Valentine says that he and Silvia are going to elope, and tells Proteus the plan. Proteus tells the Duke, who then banishes Valentine. Valentine joins a band of outlaws. Proteus tries to woo Silvia, who will not have it. Julia comes disguised as a page named Sebastian and sees Proteus’s unfaithfulness. She works for him but is unhappy with his disloyalty. Silvia enlists the help of Sir Eglamour to bring her to her beloved Valentine. They are attacked by outlaws (Valentine’s outlaws, but he is not with them at this moment) and Sir Eglamour abandons Silvia. Silvia is saved by Proteus, and is nearly dishonored before Valentine saves her. The two gentlemen make up and are friends again, Julia reunites with her Proteus, and Valentine and Silvia are given permission to marry.
One of of the reasons I love this play so much is because I was in an adapted version of it last summer. And I prepared for the audition passionately. I read about the play, chose my character months before the audition, and practiced my monologue. I had seen the play twice the summer before. I looked for different versions of the play, and watched parts of it. I was definitely interested in getting the role I wanted: Silvia. And all that hard work paid off, because I was casted as that glorious lady. It was one of the best roles I have ever played. I loved it so much, and hope to play her in a full version one day. Some of my close friends were in it as well. It was definitely a play to remember.