Character Analysis! Proteus from “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”

In the Two Gentlemen of Verona, Proteus proves true to his namesake. Mythologically he is the god of changeability, being likened to water which can easily change its shape. Initially Proteus is smitten with Julia, then, after visiting Milan, he becomes infatuated with Silvia, which makes me wonder whether if he were to travel more during his time abroad, would he forget about her too? Proteus seems confused and doesn’t understand why his strong feelings for Julia have changed so much so fast. He reasons: one nail by strength drives out another so the remembrance of my former love is by a newer object quite forgotten. Proteus’ grasp on the complexities of love appears painfully primitive, yet corresponds with his youthful  naiveté & immaturity. When he says that eating love, inhabits in the finest wits of all, I can’t help but think of the obvious vulgarity that could be interpreted. Proteus is exploring not only love but sexuality as well. The latter takes a predominance in the priorities of youth. If I was going to explain to Proteus why his feelings for Julia have faded into a shade of lack-lustre hueI might tell him something along the lines of…when you’re in different places, there’s one obvious thing that’s difficult to perform; need I say more.

Sonnet no.116 teaches us to stay the course, Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. In other words, true love is not Protean in nature. We witness his cruel betrayal of his best friend, Valentine, as he exposes his and Sylvia’s plot of eloping to her stern and disciplinary father. According to Proteus, winning Silvia outweighs losing Valentine; romantic love at the expense of friendship is a sacrifice he is willing to make. This tells us a lot about Proteus’ character & maturity; Aiming at Silvia as a sweeter friend. Quid pro quo, this for that. What Proteus finally realizes is that the disloyalty he showed {to both his best friend and Julia back home} was an unattractive quality which would repel any desirable mate. Also, to assume that, when showing interest in someone, that person will without fail return those same sentiments back, seems to me to suggest either extreme credulity or superfluous vanity. Silvia’s disgust at his incessant and uninvited pursuit of her, incites him to threaten to woo her like a soldier. Thankfully Valentine steps forward and prevents this from happening, but nonetheless the sophomoric solutions to Proteus’ seemingly never-ending obstacles he creates for himself throughout this crazy adventure leaves me feeling confident that Proteus has much to learn: about the world; about himself.

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