Act V is a whirlwind of resolved plotlines that wasn’t so much satisfying as kind of irritating. Silvia makes her escape into the great, dark woods only to encounter every other character from the play and secure a happy ending for herself and all her friends. The whole thing was just too convenient and, I have to admit, just plain bad storytelling. The overall plot was messy and even confusing at times, so it was surprising to me that it was all wrapped up so neatly by the end of the act.
Silvia and Eglamour take off from her father’s house and make their way to the nearby forest where bandits are rumored to lurk. Silvia’s main concern is that Proteus and the Duke are in hot pursuit, so she ignores the danger of outlaws among the trees. Back at the Duke’s, Silvia’s absence is noticed, so the Duke, Proteus, Thurio, and Julia all chase after her.
Silvia has been captured by outlaws who are taking her to their king, but Eglamour escaped and is perhaps able to save her. Instead, Proteus finds her and fights off the brigands so he can take her back to certain misery. Just then Valentine, the new king of the outlaws, arrives and says he saw the whole thing. Proteus apologizes and Valentine forgives him. The Duke and Thurio arrive shortly thereafter and the latter admits he was never that interested in Silvia to begin with, he just got caught up in the moment. The Duke unbanishes (debanishes? disbanishes?) Valentine and his army of thieves. Valentine and Silvia are now together, Julia and Proteus are together, Proteus and Valentine are best buds, and Thurio and the Duke are just a couple ol’ rascals. THE END.
As I mentioned above, this wasn’t a particularly good ending. I enjoyed this play far more than I have any of the other comedies so far, but this final act was pretty disappointing. Particularly since everyone got a happy ending. Even fickle Proteus was rewarded with the unwavering, if complicated, affection of Julia. I suppose he lost his gambit to have Silvia, but did he even really want to be with her? I doubt it, myself. He was just a lascivious young man who wanted another notch on his bedpost or whatever. Oh well, maybe the next play will have a better conclusion.