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TOPIC: Two, not 3 or 1, Gentlemen

Two, not 3 or 1, Gentlemen 9 years 6 months ago #2096

  • akfarrar
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From my blog:

Some insights flash upon one as in the Road to Damascus - others have a slow dawning... this is an example of the latter.

Twoiness (or two-i-ness, or two-y-ness?) is quite noticeable in

The Two Gentleman of Verona.

Let me make it plain from the start - not just obvious (i.e. you see it) but noticeable ... in performance.

(some things you get when you read over the text - very un-Shakespeare-idea-ian

- and for a development of that I refer you to Brook, not me).

When watching the BBC production - Spaniels hit me twice ... and Chameleons. I thought it odd at the time, was Shakey being a bit 'shakey'? Was he repeating himself like a school child who gets an idea and can't let go? Then I realised, a couple of days later - I noticed those words and ended up posting on them ... erm, interesting.

Then another dawning - I mentioned Speed's 'swinging' when I reviewed the production - and he actually gets two of them in the play.

Walking to work through the park another development of the two-y-ness (settle for that I think - pun on the 'y') : Two men, two women to go with the men, two servants, two suitors, too many twos to be accidental?

And that led on to thinking about the idea of pairs and two-ness (don't want it to sound like chewiness this time).

What first popped out of the cogitation was, of course, the 'famous' pair play - The Comedy of Errors. And what struck me was the difference.

There the pairs are twins - here they are not. You get the pair of a master and a servant, a man and a woman, a man and a dog ... united in a difference.

In fact it is the differences that make the two 'individuals'. So what unites them as a pair?

Love and duty.

'To love, honour and obey'

Is this a play about the break needed for marriage - a play about sorting out the difference between the play friend and the partner for life?

If so, there is a very strong religious vein running through the play which, although treated lightly by the text, is implicit - and obvious to an Elizabethan audience in a way it isn't to us.

Take the two servants - Speed is a boy - an intelligent, lively, beer drinking boy who gets treated like a boy. He is the model of youth who stays just that throughout the play.

Lance is on a threshold - he is contemplating marriage - and a move out of one type of service into another? His 'lament' over leaving the family, and the excessive emotions, reflect not just the parting of a servant to go with his master - they suggest a ritualised weeping: Was this typical of Elizabethan marriages? I have seen weddings where the leaving of the girl from the mother's home is in fact linked to such wailing.

I am not suggesting this as fact - it is speculation ... and that is what thinking about the play after viewing does - makes one think and speculate.

Which brings me to the final scene - and A Midsummer Nights Dream has the quotes that help ...

"Begin these wood birds but to couple now?"

The first word is begin ... Two Gentlemen shows the ending of one phase, and the beginning of the next - but there is a touch of reality here ( in what can be seen as a very unreal play):

"The course of true love never did run smooth."

None of the participants in this scene is going to 'happy-ever-after-dom' ... it is marriage they head for.
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