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MonkeyNotes-The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare
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Act IV, Scene 1

In a forest on the frontiers of Mantua, Speed and Valentine are waylaid by three bandits who have been banished from Milan. Valentine explains to them that he too is a banished man and has no money. The bandits realize Valentine is a man in great distress. Because of his noble nature, the bandits ask Valentine to join them as the general of their band. If he refuses, they warn that he will be killed. Speed encourages Valentine to be one of them, suggesting "its an honourable kind of thievery." The outlaws also convince him that they are not as bad as they appear to be. Valentine agrees to their offer, provided they do no outrage on women or poor people.


Notes

The bandits take pity on Valentine and spare his life because he has been plagued with "malignant fortune". Since he appears to be a noble gentleman, they force him to become the leader of their band. They probably think him more capable of wrongdoing than he is, for he tells them that he has been banished for killing a man. Valentine had wanted the bandits to think he was a formidable opponent against them.

Valentine cares little for what will become of him, since he has lost his dear Silvia. It makes no difference to him if he becomes the captain of the bandits. The bandits themselves try to convince Valentine that they are not as bad as they appear. Valentine demands only one thing of his troop of criminals; they must not harm women or poor people. The Elizabethan audience would have seen parallels in this scene to the story of Robin Hood, which was in vogue at the time.

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