I’ve been finished with Romeo and Juliet for some time, but I decided to talk about this play along with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The only reason for this is because they both involve the Italian town of Verona.
Shakespeare really like this town along with Padua for setting plays when in Italy. They are mentioned a lot. Romeo and Juliet takes place almost entirely within this city. The Two Gentlemen of Verona does not, but the two main characters are from there.
I finished Romeo and Juliet first so I’ll discuss it first. Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, this is the one I’m most familiar with, or so I thought. I’ve only read it one other time, when I was in the 9th grade. The main thing I remembered from that reading was the whole biting the thumb stuff. After that, I’ve seen several versions of the play many times in movie form. They leave out a lot of play to focus on the main story line.
So when I read the play this time out, I was surprised about what I had forgotten. The most amazing thing to me about his play is that Juliet is not 14 yet, but is so in love she kills herself. Don’t let any teenager tell you that their life is so unique. Look at poor Juliet way back when. It’s been the same for at least 500 years. Romeo is no better. The best thing about this play is Mercutio and Tybalt. They are probably two of my favorite Shakespearean characters. I prefer Mercutio over Tybalt by just a smidge. I’ve never had the chance to act in a Shakespearean play, but if I had, I would want to play Mercutio. unfortunately, I’m too old now, but he is such a wonderful character. He would be so very fun to play.
“A scratch.” “If you call for me tomorrow, you will find me a grave man.” “A plague of both your houses. They have made worm’s meat of me.”
Brilliant stuff this, even if it is in a teeny-bopper love story. (Who am I kidding I love teeny-bopper love stories).
Just like Hamlet, I liked Romeo and Juliet much better this time around than when I was forced to read it in 9th grade.
And now the other Verona play. The Two Gentlemen of Verona has the smallest cast of characters of any other play. It also is believed to be one of his first. The play is a little hard to wrangle. First we have the two gentlemen of Verona who set out to find their way in the world, all the way to Milan. There Valentine (a good Italian name) falls in love with the Duke’s daughter, Sylvia. She is promised to another man, however. To make things worse Proteus (Valentine’s friend and fellow gentleman of Verona) falls in love with her too. So sets about a comedy of errors and back-stabbing. It all comes to a head when Proteus gets Valentine banished, and he tries to convince Sylvia that Valentine is dead. She doesn’t believe him and sets to find Valentine. All the while, Proteus’ first love Julia arrives dressed as a messenger boy and becomes his page. Much like Ricky Ricardo, he doesn’t recognize his first love in a flimsy disguise.
After Sylvia is captured in the woods by a band of outlaws whose leader is none other Valentine, she is rescued by Proteus and Julia (still in drag). Sylvia refuses Proteus’ advances and he threatens to rape her. Here Shakespeare took a very dark turn in this play, but she’s rescued by Valentine and all’s well that ends well.
Julia ends up with Proteus after he remembers he loved her in the first place. (Shakespearean woman don’t have much self-esteem.) Sylvia ends up with Valentine, who ends up with a knighthood, and as I’ve said all’s well that ends well.
Oh yeah, there’s a dog in this play too. His name is Crabbe, and he is the best character in the whole thing.
Difference between the plays: Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy that might contain statutory rape. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a comedy/romance that has a character threatened with rape. One has a happy ending. The other has a very tragic ending because of the plague and really good poison.
Similarities: Julia/Juliet. Verona is a setting.
A curse on all you readers. You have made worm’s meat of me.