We begin Act IV in the woods between Milan and Verona. Valentine and his trusty man Speed are waylaid by a group of outlaws. Valentine tells the would-be robbers that he has no money because he was exiled by the Duke of Milan. When asked what his crime was, instead of telling them it was all part of a plot to steal his beloved away, he says that it was because he beat a dude to death on accident. At this, the outlaws decide to make him their king. I guess gangs chose their leaders differently back then.
Back in Milan, we learn that Proteus is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. He hires some musicians to serenade Silvia beneath her window and the whole plan seems to fall apart on him. Julia is there in disguise and gets to see him wooing Siliva and lying through his teeth. Silvia isn’t buying his efforts to seduce her, never seeming to forget that he is a known liar and fickle in his affections. The only person who seems to believe Proteus is poor, dumb Thurio.
Silvia has enlisted her friend Eglamour to help her escape Milan and perhaps find her true love Valentine. They decide to meet at Friar Patrick’s cell when she gives confession, at which point they will leave together for Verona.
At the same time, Julia (disguised as a boy named Sebastian) has gone to work as Proteus’ servant. She intends to win him back, goodness knows why. Proteus asks her to deliver a letter and the very same ring Julia gifted to him before he left Verona to Silvia as a token of his love. She goes to speak with Silvia, explaining this is the ring his betrothed gave him and Silvia declines the gift out of hand. Julia is ready to murder Silvia even though she isn’t interested in Proteus at all.
We are building to quite the climax, with Valentine lurking in the forest with a bunch of criminals, Silvia raring to get out of Dodge, and Julia ready to do whatever it takes to win her man back. The Duke has certainly taken a backseat at this point and Proteus is being moved about by forces greater than himself. I’m quite interested in seeing the thrilling conclusion to The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Until next time.