Language: Verse versus Prose

Throughout the Project, we’ve discussed the use of prose and how it differs from the use of verse.  We’ve discussed the use of verse for heightened language and prose for the more mundane (the more, well, prosaic), and of course there’s always that nobility = verse//commoners = prose thing.

But how does it work within The Two Gentlemen of Verona?

Scene Prose/Verse Notes
I.i opens in verse Valentine and Proteus
upper/middle class
shift to prose on Speed’s entrance lower class/clowns
I.ii all verse Julia and Lucetta
even though Lucetta is Julia’s waitingwoman, Lucetta is NOT a clown and so the verse seems logical
I.iii all verse Antonio, Panthino, and Proteus
though Panthino is Antonio’s servant, Panthino is not a clown
II.i opens in prose Valentine and Speed
Speed clowning in prose
shift to verse on Silvia’s entrance Silvia is the daughter of the Duke of Milan (thus aristocratic)
shift to prose on Silvia’s exit a return to Speed’s clowning

Speed recites a poem in verse, but the words are Silvia’s (written in fourteeners, no less)
https://thebillshakespeareproject.com/2010/02/09/poetry-reviewpreview-to-the-iamb-and-beyond.aspx

II.ii all verse Julia and Proteus
upper/middle class
II.iii all prose Panthino and Launce
two servants, one a clown (no prosaic surprise here)
II.iv opens in prose Silvia, Thurio, and Valentine (plus, for about seven lines, Speed)
There’s really no reason this should be prose, given the social status… or is there a hierarchical thing working here, since…
shift to verse on Duke’s entrance verse = nobility
II.v all prose Speed and Launce
both servants, both clowns, both clowning
II.vi all verse Proteus soliloquy
upper/middle class
II.vii all verse Julia and Lucetta
even though Lucetta is Julia’s waiting woman, Lucetta is NOT a clown and so the verse seems logical
III.i opens in verse Duke, Thurio, Proteus, and Valentine
nobility and upper/middle class
shift to prose on Proteus/Launce’s entrance Prosaic interaction between servant and two “upper”-classmen
return to verse on Proteus/Valentine focus upper/middle class
shift to prose on Proteus/Valentine’s exit Launce is joined by Speed
both servants, both clowns
III.ii all verse Duke, Thurio, and Proteus
nobility and upper/middle class
IV.i all verse Valentine, Speed and outlaws
there are a few prosaic non-comic asides by Speed to Valentine
IV.ii all verse Proteus, Thurio, and Silvia:
upper/middle class

a few prose asides between Julia (disguised as Sebastian–now lower class) and the “Host” (non-noble)
a few prose lines between Julia (disguised as Sebastian–now lower class) and Silvia

IV.iii all verse Eglamour and Silvia
a few prosaic lines at the end of the scene
IV.iv opens in prose Launce soliloquy
servant/clown (and dog… woof)
shift to verse on Proteus’ entrance upper/middle class
some prose in the interaction between Proteus and Launce (master and lower class servant)
V.i all verse Eglamour and Silvia
upper/middle class
V.ii all verse Duke, Proteus, Thurio
upper/middle class
with a few prosaic lines between Thurio and Proteus
V.iii all verse Outlaws and Silvia
here, too, like in IV.i, the outlaws speak in verse… could this be proof of Valentine’s description of them as being “endued with worthy qualities” (V.iv.154)?
V.iv all verse all verse save for a few prosaic lines between Proteus and Julia/Sebastian BEFORE her revelation as Julia

It all seems fairly routine, with no interesting anomalies… and without the interesting anomalies, there’s little interest…

sorry for wasting a day

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