The Two Gentlemen of Verona

by: William Shakespeare

Act IV, scenes iii-iv

Silvia and Julia trade objects (Julia's ring and Silvia's picture) and stories just as Valentine and Proteus will ultimately trade women. The interaction between these two women is far more meaningful than the slapdash rush of the play's ending, in which the play's intended couples are hastily paired up again, allows. A feminist reading of the play would interpret the bond of female friendship (despite Julia's disguise) as the most important, enduring, and under-developed aspect of the play. Silvia and Julia are both resourceful women who take risks in order to be reunited with the men they love. Neither betrays her man (Julia sublimates herself in order to be true to her love, forcing herself to withstand the discomfort of helping the man she loves woo another woman), and each remains true to the other woman as well: Silvia in her sympathy for Julia, and Julia, as Sebastian, in her unwillingness to drag Silvia into Proteus' web of treachery and betrayal.

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