The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Type: 
Comedy
First Performed: 
1594-95
First Printed: 
1623
"

Hope is a lover's staff; walk hence with that.
And manage it against despairing thoughts.

"

Two young men, Valentine and Proteus, leave Verona for Milan. Valentine is excited to see the world and serve the Duke of Milan. Proteus is reluctant to leave his beloved Julia, but promises to remain true to her.

Once in Milan, Valentine falls in love with Silvia, daughter of the Duke, and plans to secretly marry her so that she does not have to marry Thurio, the wealthy man her father has intended for her. Valentine confesses his elopement plans to Proteus (who has also fallen for the beautiful Silvia despite his promise to Julia), and Proteus betrays his friend by telling the Duke. Valentine is banished from Milan, takes up with a band of outlaws in the wilderness and soon becomes their leader, while Silvia is imprisoned.

Julia, in disguise as a boy, comes to Milan in search of her beloved Proteus. Proteus is still trying to woo Silvia, but she remains faithful to only Valentine. She eventually escapes to seek out Valentine in the wilderness. The Duke, Thurio, Proteus and Julia (in disguise) all pursue Silvia, who has been captured by the outlaws. Proteus rescues Silvia, but when she still spurns him, he attempts to rape her. Valentine intervenes and Proteus must admit his betrayals. Julia reveals her true identity, and the ashamed Proteus seeks to reconcile. The Duke grants a pardon to the outlaws and Silvia and Valentine are at last united.