THREE
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

IF WE COULD CALL BACK SHAKESPEARE'S GHOST, like Macbeth's specters, for questioning, probably the most important questions we could ask would concern his motives for doing many of the things he did. Regarding The Two Gentlemen of Verona and its music, we would first wish to know why he used the music called for in Act IV, ii of the play. As we do not have our souls in pawn to the forces of evil, we must seek the answer to our question elsewhere. That answer emerges almost as clearly as if Shakespeare had spoken it when we turn to the old Spanish romance from which the dramatist drew his plot, for there, at the same point in Montemayor's story, we find a very close parallel in the music as well as in the plot. The differences are slight but significant. One reason, then, why Shakespeare employed music in the play is that he found the music in his source. Here we have a key which will unlock several tempting doors.

Before pursuing the subject further, however, we should consider the preceding, first play by Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors. It contains no music and hence seems to fall outside the province of our study. Yet, when we consider that it is one of the very few Shakespearean plays that omit music, the lack of music in itself becomes significant. By noting the possible reasons why the playwright did not use music in the Plautean farce we may glimpse his shaping hands at work.

Several reasons immediately present themselves. The Comedy of Errors is a farce--a comedy of situation. It follows closely its Plautean source: the setting is simple and fitted for a simple stage; there is relatively little character delineation; the language is often prosaic, seldom rising above the artistic level of word play; the action is largely governed by the classic situation. Thus, both the dramatic elements of the play and the mechanics of its stage pro-

-51-

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Shakespeare's Use of Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Plates viii
  • Introduction ix
  • One - The Songs in Elizabethan Drama 1
  • Two - Instrumental Music in Elizabethan Drama 16
  • Three - The Two Gentlemen of Verona 51
  • Four - Love's Labour's Lost 65
  • Five - A Midsummer Night's Dream 82
  • Six - The Merchant of Venice 105
  • Seven - Much Ado About Nothing 120
  • Eight - As You like It 139
  • Nine - Twelfth Night 164
  • Ten - Conclusion 187
  • Index 211
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