Solving the Ending

Let’s feature for discussion the famous lines at the end of the play around the extremely awkward attempted rape and how the gents are able to put it behind them.

The moment is eggy for everyone.  Julia has a tough swoon, Slivia has to bite her tongue, Valentine has to forgive the unforgivable, and Proteus has to be really, really, really sorry.

Let’s solve it.  Here are the words in question:


PROTEUS            In love

Who respects friend?

SILVIA            All men but Proteus.

PROTEUS            Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words

Can no way change you to a milder form,

I’ll woo you like a soldier, at arms’ end,

And love you ‘gainst the nature of love,–force ye.

SILVIA            O heaven!

PROTEUS                    I’ll force thee yield to my desire.

VALENTINE            Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,

Thou friend of an ill fashion!

PROTEUS            Valentine!

VALENTINE            Thou common friend, that’s without faith or love,

For such is a friend now; treacherous man!

Thou hast beguiled my hopes; nought but mine eye

Could have persuaded me: now I dare not say

I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me.

Who should be trusted, when one’s own right hand

Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus,

I am sorry I must never trust thee more,

But count the world a stranger for thy sake.

The private wound is deepest: O time most accurst,

‘Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!

PROTEUS            My shame and guilt confounds me.

Forgive me, Valentine: if hearty sorrow

Be a sufficient ransom for offence,

I tender ‘t here; I do as truly suffer

As e’er I did commit.

VALENTINE            Then I am paid;

And once again I do receive thee honest.

Who by repentance is not satisfied

Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are pleased.

By penitence the Eternal’s wrath’s appeased:

And, that my love may appear plain and free,

All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.

JULIA                        O me unhappy!  [swoons]


Do you think Valentine means that he would actually give away Silvia to his erstwhile friend, after all that?  Do you believe he means something else?  The passage is hot in question and I think completely up for grabs.  Which of these four characters can let us in on a side of the equation we may not be seeing in these lines to help explain them?