The Two Gentlemen of Verona | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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The Two Gentlemen of Verona | Act 2, Scene 2 | Summary



Back in Verona Proteus bids a tearful farewell to Julia before his departure to Milan. The two exchange rings by which to remember each other, and Proteus promises to keep Julia constantly in his thoughts. Julia silently departs, and Pantino arrives a moment later to bring Proteus to the waiting ship.


In this scene Proteus indulges in some old-fashioned, over-the-top love rhetoric. He promises not to let an hour pass without thinking of Julia and asks to be punished by "some foul mischance" if he forgets her even briefly. As he speaks, the "dramatic irony meter" starts creeping up like a thermometer—the more he professes his loyalty, the more the audience is prepared for his eventual betrayal in Act 3.

Julia, however, may already have some doubts about Proteus's fidelity. In a later scene (Act 2, Scene 7) she will chide Lucetta for even suggesting Proteus could be dishonest—a reaction that, like her exaggerated response to the love letter in Act 1, Scene 2, may reveal deeper misgivings than she is willing to admit. Like the queen in Hamlet who "doth protest too much," Julia may be making a great show of Proteus's loyalty to mask her own inward doubts. The present scene hints at those doubts only briefly, by way of a small pun: when Proteus promises to return, Julia teasingly instructs him to "turn not," meaning not to change his mind about her.

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