Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona broken down into nine key scenes.

Valentine (Hugh Bonneville) woos Silvia (Saskia Reeves) in The Two Gentlemen of Verona 1991
Valentine (Hugh Bonneville) woos Silvia (Saskia Reeves) in David Thacker's 1991 production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Photo by Joe Cocks Studio Collection © (c) Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – Image Licensing

1. Two friends, Valentine and Proteus, prepare to part (Act 1, Scene 1)

Valentine is about to leave for Milan whilst his friend Proteus remains in Verona. Proteus intercepts Speed, Valentine's servant, as he sets off to accompany his master and asks if he has delivered his letter to Julia. Speed deliberately misleads Proteus about Julia's response to the letter to increase his payment. Proteus frets that Julia will disregard his letter because of the incompetent messenger Speed.

2. Julia feigns indifference to Proteus's letter (Act 1, Scene 2)

Julia discusses who she loves best with Lucetta. She pretends to be furious that Lucetta has accepted a letter from Proteus. Julia picks up the discarded letter and tears it to pieces but once alone she regrets her rash action and reads the fragments lovingly.

3. Speed finds Silvia's glove (Act 2, Scene 1)

Speed finds a glove that Valentine recognises as belonging to Silvia. Speed tells Valentine how he can tell that his master is in love. Speed deliberately misunderstands Valentine's praise for Silvia in a comic battle of wits. When Silvia enters, Valentine gives her a letter that she has asked him to write. Silvia teases Valentine about the letter and how much trouble he has taken, telling him to take it back. Speed realises that Silvia has asked Valentine to write a love letter from herself to him by this means. Valentine is puzzled.

4. Proteus debates whether he should pursue Silvia (Act 2, Scene 6)

Privately Proteus reveals that his love for Silvia demands that he must treat Valentine as an enemy and forget Julia. He resolves to tip off the Duke about Valentine's plan to elope with his daughter Silvia. Then Proteus will outwit Turio, the Duke's preferred suitor, and clear the way for himself.

5. Proteus betrays Valentine who is banished (Act 3, Scene 1)

Proteus tells the Duke that Valentine plans to elope with Silvia and has gone to fetch a rope ladder to enable Silvia to escape from the tower where she is confined each night. Proteus leaves and the Duke discovers the rope ladder and letter to Silvia concealed in Valentine's cloak. Furious, the Duke banishes Valentine. Proteus pretends to comfort Valentine and promises to deliver his letters to Silvia. Lance suspects Proteus is a villain.

6. Valentine becomes King of the Outlaws (Act 4, Scene 1)

Valentine and Speed are ambushed by outlaws in the forest. Valentine confesses that he has no money but has killed a man in Milan and been banished. The outlaws are impressed by Valentine and give him the choice of becoming their leader or being killed.

7. Proteus 'helps' Turio woo Silvia (Act 4, Scene 2)

Proteus pretends to help Turio woo Silvia while pursuing his own suit which is rejected. Turio and musicians serenade Silvia under her window. Proteus's duplicity is witnessed by Julia disguised as a boy, Sebastian. Proteus begs Silvia for a picture of herself and reluctantly she agrees to send it the next morning.

8. Julia disguised as Sebastian delivers a ring from Proteus to Silvia (Act 4, Scene 4)

Lance explains that the little dog that Proteus wanted delivered to Silvia was stolen so he substituted Crab but he misbehaved and so Silvia rejected the gift. Proteus angrily tells Lance to find the proper dog. Proteus asks Sebastian/Julia to deliver to Silvia the very ring that he had received from her. When Sebastian/Julia meets Silvia, the latter thinks he has come for the picture so hands it over. Silvia refuses the ring recognising it as Julia's. Once alone, Julia compares Silvia's beauty with her own.

9. Valentine confounds Proteus and rescues Silva (Act 5, Scene 4)

Having rescued Silvia from the outlaws in the forest, Proteus forces himself on her when she rejects him. Valentine confronts Proteus who is mortified and asks forgiveness. Valentine forgives him and offers him Silvia but Sebastian/Julia faints. The four are reconciled and friendship restored. The Duke is released by the outlaws and takes them into his service. Turio gives up his claim to Silvia. Valentine is pardoned by the Duke. All ends happily.

 

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