Language: The “I was rhyming; ’tis you that have the reason” Edition

We’ve done quite a bit of discussion on the various uses of rhyming in the Canon:

  • singling out an entire body or block of content
  • singling out a couplet of content (for emphasis, particularly at the end of a speech)
  • content from outside the play itself–poems, songs, even entire plays that are performed within the context of the scene
  • portrayal of other worldly-entities
  • rhyme as answer

Now, The Two Gentlemen of Verona has MUCH less rhyme than last month’s Love’s Labor’s Lost, about half as much as our opening The Comedy of Errors, and about twice as much as The Taming of the Shrew.  So… how’s it deployed?

Scene Use Notes
I.ii answer Lucetta answers Julia in all cases

  • passing judgment on suitor: Meratio / so so
  • passing judgment on suitor: Proteus / folly reigns in us
  • of Proteus: name / shame
  • of Proteus: rest / best
  • of Proteus: me / ye
  • of Proteus: small / all
  • of men: show their love / know their love
  • of the note: concerns / concerns

Lucetta isn’t confounded by anything Julia has to say

couplet of content on occasion, Lucetta will complete her own couplet (fine/mine, hate/ruminate)
I.iii answer Antonio answers Proteus

weakly: wish / wish

final four lines Panthino and Proteus share an ABAB two-speech quatrain
II.i answer Silvia answers Valentine once:

on his poem: like it? / quaintly writ

assorted couplets Valentine and Speed
II.ii final couplet of scene Proteus

come / dumb

II.iv answer Proteus answers Silvia

courtly but weak: servant / servantSilvia answers Thurio: you / Thurio

Valentine answers Proteus: alone / own

final couplet Proteus: will / skill opening triple repetition Proteus: forsworn / forsworn / forsworn
closing Proteus: swift / drift
I.i opening couplet Julia: me / thee
III.i Duke / Valentine advice sequence rhyming couplets,

including one instance of Valentine answering the Duke: her / her

verse Duke reads Valentine’s poem to Silvia


III.ii answer Duke answers both Thurio and Proteus

her / figure; hate / hate

IV.ii song Proteus to Silvia
IV.iv answer Proteus answers Julia (Sebastian):

pity her / pity her

V.iii answer / final couplet Silva answers outlaw in final couplet
V.iv answer Silvia answers Proteus twice

happy / unhappy; beloved / beloved

closing couplet of speeches Valentine in speeches to Proteus

accurst / worst; free / three

closing couplet of speeches Julia reveals herself to Proteus
closing couplet of speeches Proteus, Valentine
closing couplet of PLAY does NOT rhyme

It’s a mess…  The answers (save for Lucetta’s of Julia in Act One Scene One) are pretty weak, sometimes mere repetition.

But instead of being disappointed (like I was over yesterday’s anomaly-less use of verse versus prose), I think we’re hitting upon something here… something I’ll hit next week.

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