Article Title

The "Full Meaning" of The Two Gentlemen of Verona


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Speaking of Shakespeare's "continuous development." T. S. Eliot once insisted that "the full meaning of any one of his plays is not in itself alone, but in that play in the order in which it was written, in its relation to all of Shakespeare's other plays, earlier and later: we must know all of Shakespeare's work in order to know any of it."1 We must also, of course, know as much as we can about the works upon which Shakespeare's work was based, and about the traditions that enriched and defined them, especially if we seek the full meaning of a very early play, whose awkwardness may obscure the meaning its young author intended as well as its significance in the shaping of his whole career. If we measure The Two Gentlemen of Verona in these three ways-against the other early plays, against its own sources, and against the traditions those sources bespeak-we shall see that it is probably Shakespeare's first comedy, that its tone is generally serious, and that however great its reliance upon traditions, its use of them is quite untraditional.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.