The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2470  Monday, 5 January 2004

From:           Philip Tomposki <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 02 Jan 2004 16:44:29 -0500
Subject:        TG Rape Scene

Susan St. John writes: "The bigger problem then becomes how to justify
Valentine GIVING Sylvia to Proteus; and WHY Sylvia has no more lines at

As an experiment consider what would happen if Julia did NOT faint and
cut off Proteus' response.  A more conventional ending would be to have
Proteus refusing Valentine's offer.  The offer then can be seen as a
sort of ritual.  Valentine 'gives' Sylvia to Proteus knowing, or at
least presuming, he will refuse, and thus redeem himself.  However,
Shakespeare, being found or ambiguous and unconventional endings, gives
us a sequence of events that prevents the expected resolution from
taking place.

As evidence that Valentine offer is not serious, consider his reaction
to Thurio's claim on Sylvia.  He threatens him with death, even in the
presence of the Duke.  This should be some reassurance to Sylvia of his
continued love.  And her silence can be explained by the fact that so
much occurs between the point that Julia faints and the end of the play
that she has little time to absorb all that's happening, much less
respond.  However, if the actress playing Sylvia can pull this off, she
may want to indicate that once she is alone with him, Valentine will
hear the phrase that strikes dread into all males: "We have to talk!"

Philip Tomposki

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