The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare Essay

“Proteus is an early sea-god and one of several deities whom Homer calls the “Old Man of the Sea”. His name suggests the “first”, as protogonos is the “firstborn”. He became the son of Poseidon in the Olympian or of Nereus and Doris, or of Oceanus and a Naiad, and was made the herdsman of Poseidon’s seals, the great bull seal at the center of the harem. He can foretell the future, and will answer only to someone who is capable of capturing him. And from this word came the adjective protean which means versatile, mutable, and capable of assuming many forms. It has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability


 I was able to watch the play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare last November 9. Here, I chose Proteus, who was one of the two gentlemen of Verona, as the character to be analyzed.

Primarily, Proteus’ objective was to attend the court as his father Antonio believes that this should be the fate of a young man. However, this objective evolved into something different as the play progressed. Because his presence at the court became the way where he was reunited with his best friend and fell in love with Silvia. This was where all the complications started and gave twists to the lives of the characters in the play. He later was determined to win Silvia, the daughter of the Duke of Milan despite all odds.

Proteus changed a lot in terms of his attitude as his affection for Silvia becomes an obsession. Because as Proteus met Silvia, he eventually forgot his lover Julia who was left behind at Verona. He did everything to win her including betraying his long-time friend Valentine who was the true love of Silvia. He became disloyal to Julia and a traitor to his best friend because of his obsession with Silvia.

The characters in the play have direct effects on Proteus as the play progressed. For example, Valentine taught him how to be a good friend at the beginning of the play but later, they became rivals as they both fell in love with the same woman. He was trusted by Valentine that he confessed his plan to escape with Julia from the palace of the Duke but then betrayed Valentine by telling the Duke about their plan.

This resulted to Valentine being exiled. Julia, Proteus’ lover, taught him what true love is, that she chose to disguise as a page and serve Proteus despite the fact that she was used by Proteus to pursue his interest on Silvia. Up until the end of the play, he showed Proteus what love really means. And Silvia, being so much in love with Valentine, showed Proteus how it is to be loyal to a lover as she managed to keep her trust and faithfulness with Valentine despite all the bad words Proteus told her about her lover. Until the end, Silvia taught Proteus how it is to be a great lover.

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Proteus as a character in the play did not show any inner conflicts about his desire to woo Silvia because he showed extreme determination to fulfill this. He neglected his love affair with Julia and betrayed his best friend for this objective. He even attempted to force himself to Silvia at the end of the play because he was so desperate.

The actor used his body and skills very well to convey the character of Proteus. He stressed innocence through his eyes and voice and showed power and domination through his diction and face. He showed why the name Proteus is so fitted to the character as this name implies “a sea god who can change his shape at will” ( because he managed to fit his gestures and facial expressions in every scene of the play.


The Shakespeare Project. (2004, October). William Shakespeare’s Ttwo Gentlemen of Verona: A Modern Version. Retrieved November 13, 2006 from’proteus%20%20objective%20on%20the%20play%20two%20men%20of%20verona

Proteus (2006, November 7). Retrieved November 13, 2006 from


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