Scene by Scene Synopsis
Scene: Verona; Milan; the frontiers of Mantua.
Act I, Scene 1: A young gentleman, Valentine is preparing to travel to the court of the Duke of Milan, teases his lovesick friend Proteus about the infatuation that keeps him home. Valentine departs, and Proteus, in a brief soliloquy, expresses his love for Julia. Valentine's young page, Speed, enters. Speed has carried a letter from Proteus to Julia, and he reports that she made no response to it.
Act I, Scene 2: Julia asks her waiting-woman, Lucetta, her opinion of the suitors who are wooing her. Lucetta favors Proteus, but Julia affects to disdain him. Lucetta gives her a letter from Proteus, delivered by Speed, but Julia pretends to take offence, eventually tearing the letter to pieces and sending Lucetta away. Alone, Julia berates herself and confesses that she loves Proteus.
Act I, Scene 3: Proteus' father, Antonio, decides that Proteus shall join Valentine at court, as befits a gentleman's son. Proteus enters, mooning over a love letter from Julia. Antonio reveals his plan to Proteus, leaving the young man to bemoan his misfortune.
Act II, Scene 1: Speed gives Valentine a glove that has been dropped by the Duke's daughter Silvia, with whom Valentine appears to be in love. The witty Speed tauntingly diagnoses his master's condition. Valentine reports that Silvia has asked him to write a love letter to an unknown person for her. Silvia arrives, and Valentine gives his composition to her. She promptly returns it to him; Valentine is disturbed, but Speed, in an aside, immediately sees that she loves Valentine himself. When Silvia leaves. Speed attempts to explain this, but Valentine cannot understand.
Act II, Scene 2: Proteus and Julia say farewell and exchange rings. Proteus vows to be faithful while he is away.
Act II, Scene 3: Launce, a clown who is Proteus' servant, appears with his dog, Crab, whose hard-heartedness he complains about in a comic monologue. Launce is upset because he must leave his family and go to court with his master, but Crab shows no distress.
Act II, Scene 4: The Duke reports that Proteus has arrived at his court, and Valentine praises his friend warmly. Valentine tells Silvia of the love between Proteus and Julia. Proteus enters and meets Silvia, who is then called away. Valentine reveals that he and Silvia are planning to elope. Proteus confesses in a soliloquy that he has fallen madly in love with Silvia, so much so that he is willing to betray both Valentine and Julia.
Act II, Scene 5: Speed welcomes Launce to court. With clownish wit, the two servants gossip about their masters' love affairs.
Act II, Scene 6: In a soliloquy, Proteus plots to steal Silvia from Valentine, finding justifications for his disloyalty to his friend and Julia. He proposes to reveal the intended elopement of Valentine and Silvia, scheduled for that night, to the Duke.
Act II Scene 7: Julia plans to journey to court to see Proteus. She will travel disguised as a page. Lucetta warns that Proteus' love may have diminished, but Julia is confident he will remain faithful.
Act III, Scene 1: Proteus tells the Duke of the intended elopement, exiting as Valentine approaches. The Duke 'discovers' the rope ladder hidden under Valentine's cloak, and angrily banishes Valentine from his domain. Proteus arrives with Launce and offers to help Valentine flee. The two friends depart,-leaving Launce, who speaks of his own love for a milkmaid. He has a written list other good qualities. Speed appears, and the two comic figures review this document.
Act III, Scene 2: The Duke speaks with Thurio, whom he has chosen to marry his daughter. Thurio complains that Silvia loves him even less than she did before Valentine's banishment. Proteus recommends maligning Valentine to her, and he volunteers for the job, observing that such slander will only be credible coming from someone believed to be Valentine's friend.
Act IV, Scene 1: Valentine and Speed are captured by OUTLAWS. Learning that Valentine is an educated gentleman, as they claim to be themselves, these desperadoes elect him their captain.
Act IV, Scene 2: Proteus soliloquizes that his ongoing career of betrayal, now directed at Thurio, has only brought him Silvia's scorn. Thurio arrives with Musicians. Also present, unknown to the others, is Julia, disguised as a page. The song 'Who Is Silvia?' is performed, and Julia sees that Proteus loves its subject. Thurio and the Musicians depart, and Proteus converses with Silvia, who has appeared on her balcony. He takes credit for the serenade and speaks of his love, but Silvia rebukes him, referring to his former love, Julia. He claims that Julia has died, not knowing that she is listening, and adds that he has heard that Valentine is dead as well. He asks Silvia for a picture, and she agrees to give him one in the morning.
Act IV, Scene 3: Sir Eglamour agrees to accompany Silvia on a journey to find Valentine.
Act IV, Scene 4: In a monologue, Launce complains of Crab's doggy behavior, for he has urinated at the Duke's dinner. Proteus agrees to employ the disguised Julia as a page, ordering 'Sebastian' to deliver a ring to Silvia, in exchange for the promised picture. Julia makes the exchange and learns that Silvia knows of and feels pity for Proteus' abandoned lover.
Act V, Scene 1: Eglamour and Silvia flee.
Act V, Scene 2: The Duke reports Silvia's flight. Thurio, Proteus, and Julia all join him in pursuit.
Act V, Scene 3: The Outlaws have captured Silvia and are taking her to their captain.
Act V, Scene 4: Valentine, alone, muses that his lonely exile is appropriate to his grief over his lost Silvia. Hearing a commotion, he hides himself, and Silvia, Proteus, and Julia enter. Proteus demands Silvia's love as a reward for having rescued her from the Outlaws; when she refuses, he attempts to rape her. Valentine comes forth and prevents him, cursing his supposed friend's disloyalty. Proteus, stricken with remorse, begs forgiveness. Valentine is so moved that he offers to yield Silvia to him; hearing this, Julia faints. Revived, she reveals her identity, and Proteus falls in love with her again. The Outlaws arrive with the Duke and Thurio as captives, whom Valentine releases. Thurio claims Silvia, but when Valentine offers to fight him, he fearfully declines. The Duke pardons Valentine and awards him Silvia's hand.
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