The First Folio was the publication in 1623 of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, which were divided into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies. (Not included were Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen.)


The Two Gentlemen of Verona is classified as a comedy. And it is funny.

I have no other but a woman’s reason:
I think him so because I think him so.

(Act 1, sc. 2, lines 23-24)

This early play contains many elements that Shakespeare will make better use of later. For example, Sylvia hides in a friar’s cell to escape a marriage ordered by her father and there’s an elopement plot involving a rope ladder.

We also have a song and outlaws. And an attempted rape… (“love against the nature of love”).

[Spoiler alert] The gist of the story is that two friends fall for the same woman. Romantic love and friendship then wrestle for top priority. And in the end, friendship wins, and then love slides into place.

Although The Two Gentlemen of Verona is considered by many to be the weakest of the comedies, there is still all this:

Un-shakespeare-like expressions:

  • over shoes [deeply] in love
  • over boots [recklessly] in love

(Act 1, sc. 1, lines 24-25)

Character names:

    • Valentine-who loves Sylvia and except for one weird moment, never wavers in this
    • Proteus-who changes frequently

Descriptions of love:

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.

(Act 1, sc. 3, lines 85-88)

love is like a child
That longs for everything that he can come by.

(Act 3, sc.1, lines124-125)

Descriptions of tears:

    • A sea of melting pearl
    • silver-shedding

(Act 3, sc.1, lines 229 and 236)

Metaphors that create videos, rather than just pictures:

Hope is a lover’s staff: walk hence with that
And manage it against despairing thoughts.

(Act 3, sc. 1, lines252-253)

Therefore, as you unwind her love from him,
Lest it should ravel and be good to none,
You must provide to bottom it on me,
Which  must be done by praising me as much
As you in worth dispraise Sir Valentine.

(Act 3, sc. 2, lines 51-55)