The Abasement of The Upper Class
Most people have a predetermined idea of the levels of a social hierarchy. They presume that the upper class is noble, proper and educated while the lower class is of the opposite; the lower class work for the upper class and thus cannot possibly exceed the caliber of the upper class. Shakespeare upends this predetermined notion by utilizing the characters to convey a strong sense of role reversal throughout The Two Gentlemen of Verona. This role reversal upsets the stereotypical social hierarchy and strongly suggests that the upper class may not be as highly esteemed as they are perceived to be. Loyalty is an underlying theme throughout the play. Symbols of loyalty prompt the reader to not only compare the loyalty of a servant’s relationship with an upperclassman’s relationship but also conclude that this comparison often leads to the degradation of the upper class characters. Proteus refers to himself as “spaniel-like” (4.2.14) in Act 4; however his actions show that he is the direct opposite of what a spaniel, or a dog, should be like. Judging from his fickle actions of suddenly falling in love with Silvia after swearing to remain faithful to Julia, Proteus is unable to have nearly as much loyalty as a spaniel should have. Thus one can conclude that Proteus is not nearly as loyal as a dog. His condemnable actions lead to an abasement of the upper class and gives way to the idea that the aristocratic aren’t as respectable as they seem to be. The relationship between Lance and Crab can be compared to Proteus and Julia. Lance, the servant has an unusually loyal and selfless relationship with his dog, Crab. It is interesting to note that Lance seems to be more loyal or devoted to Crab, than his dog is to him. In fact, Lance even takes the blame and beating for his dog when Crab his caught “a pissing” (4.4.1) under the table. This loyalty can be compared to Proteus and Julia in that Lance’s selflessly devoted relationship with...
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