Launce Monologue Analysis Essay

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Please see the bottom of this page for notes and related resources.

ACT II SCENE III The same. A street 
[Enter LAUNCE, leading a dog]
LAUNCENay, 'twill be this hour ere I have done weeping;
all the kind of the Launces have this very fault. I
have received my proportion, like the prodigious
son, and am going with Sir Proteus to the Imperial's
court. I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured
dog that lives: my mother weeping, my father
wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat
wringing her hands, and all our house in a great
perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed
one tear: he is a stone, a very pebble stone, and10
has no more pity in him than a dog: a Jew would have
wept to have seen our parting; why, my grandam,
having no eyes, look you, wept herself blind at my
parting. Nay, I'll show you the manner of it. This
shoe is my father: no, this left shoe is my father:
no, no, this left shoe is my mother: nay, that
cannot be so neither: yes, it is so, it is so, it
hath the worser sole. This shoe, with the hole in20
it, is my mother, and this my father; a vengeance
on't! there 'tis: now, sit, this staff is my
sister, for, look you, she is as white as a lily and
as small as a wand: this hat is Nan, our maid: I
am the dog: no, the dog is himself, and I am the
dog--Oh! the dog is me, and I am myself; ay, so,
so. Now come I to my father; Father, your blessing:
now should not the shoe speak a word for weeping:
now should I kiss my father; well, he weeps on. Now
come I to my mother: O, that she could speak now
like a wood woman! Well, I kiss her; why, there30
'tis; here's my mother's breath up and down. Now
come I to my sister; mark the moan she makes. Now
the dog all this while sheds not a tear nor speaks a
word; but see how I lay the dust with my tears.
[Enter PANTHINO]
PANTHINOLaunce, away, away, aboard! thy master is shipped
and thou art to post after with oars. What's the
matter? why weepest thou, man? Away, ass! You'll
lose the tide, if you tarry any longer.40
LAUNCEIt is no matter if the tied were lost; for it is the
unkindest tied that ever any man tied.
PANTHINOWhat's the unkindest tide?
LAUNCEWhy, he that's tied here, Crab, my dog.
PANTHINOTut, man, I mean thou'lt lose the flood, and, in
losing the flood, lose thy voyage, and, in losing
thy voyage, lose thy master, and, in losing thy
master, lose thy service, and, in losing thy
service,--Why dost thou stop my mouth?50
LAUNCEFor fear thou shouldst lose thy tongue.
PANTHINOWhere should I lose my tongue?
LAUNCEIn thy tale.
PANTHINOIn thy tail!
LAUNCELose the tide, and the voyage, and the master, and
the service, and the tied! Why, man, if the river
were dry, I am able to fill it with my tears; if the
wind were down, I could drive the boat with my sighs.
PANTHINOCome, come away, man; I was sent to call thee.60
LAUNCESir, call me what thou darest.
PANTHINOWilt thou go?
LAUNCEWell, I will go.
[Exeunt]


Next: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 2, Scene 4
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Explanatory notes for Act 2, Scene 3
From The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society.

17. this left shoe: - This shows that in the Poet's time each foot had its several shoe; which fashion, once laid aside, has grown into general use again almost within the recollection of the present generation.

24-26. I am the dog, etc.: - Launce here gets entangled with his own ingenuity, and the Poet probably did not mean to extricate him.

30. a good woman; the Folios read 'a would-woman'; Theobald first changed 'would' into 'wood' (i.e. mad); others 'an ould (i.e. old) woman.'

30. like a wood woman: - Wood is an old word for frantic or mad: so that the speaker means that his mother was frantic with grief at parting with so hopeful a son. Perhaps the sense would be clearer, if we read, "O, that the shoe could speak now," etc.

55, 56. The first, tide, refers to the river; the last, tied, to the dog. In the original tide and tied are both spelled the same way, tide, which renders the quibble more obvious.

________
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Ed. Israel Gollancz. New York: University Society, 1901. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/two_2_3.html >.
_________

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Summary

Silvia calls upon Sir Eglamour, a friend, to help her escape her "most unholy match" to the detested Thurio (IV.iii.30). She yearns to reunite with Valentine but knows she cannot travel to Mantua alone. Eglamour is a safe chaperone for Silvia, as he has taken a vow of chastity since the death of his beloved wife. Silvia and Eglamour make plans to meet the following day at Friar Patrick's cell.

Launce describes his visit to the Duke's dining chamber to deliver Crab as a gift to Silvia. Launce and Crab are in the room not longer than a "piss-/ing while" when Crab urinates on the floor (IV.iv.16-17). The Duke calls his servants to beat the dog, but because Launce loves the dog so dearly, he claims that he himself urinated on the floor, and takes the beating in place of Crab.

Proteus meets Sebastian/Julia and takes an immediate liking to the seeming page. He asks Sebastian to deliver a ring to Silvia--the ring that Julia gave Proteus at his departure. Greatly vexed at Proteus' infidelity, Julia sighs that she "cannot be true servant to my master/Unless I prove false traitor to myself" (IV.iv.97-98). Sebastian goes to Silvia's chamber to deliver the ring and collect Silvia's portrait. Silvia expresses her dislike for Proteus, especially when she realizes that the ring originally belonged to Julia. Sebastian thanks Silvia for being sympathetic to Julia's wronged love. Intrigued, Silvia asks Sebastian if he knew Julia. Sebastian replies that he was very close to Julia, and even once wore one of her dresses for a pageant at Pentecost. Silvia departs, and Julia compares herself to the picture of Silvia, believing that her looks are better Silvia's.

Commentary

Launce's devotion to his dog, though humorous, provides an important foil to the unfeeling attitudes of Proteus and the Duke. Proteus seeks only to satisfy his own desires, at the expense of others' emotions; likewise, the Duke ignores his daughter's protestations, wanting to marry her off for the greatest financial advantage possible. For Launce, on the other hand, his friendship with Crab entirely outweighs any cares about himself or his social status, enabling him to humiliate himself publicly.

Though Launce's diction is neither elegant nor poetic, his speeches represent the most developed use of language in the play. Whereas the other characters' monologues seem stilted, Launce's words flow naturally in the form of bawdy tales and hilarious encounters with his dog. Launce's gleeful speech about Crab's urinating in the dining room instances Shakespeare's ability to contain a cacophony of storytelling voices in one monologue: three servants, the Duke, and Launce all have a voice in Launce's story.

The encounter between Silvia and Julia is significant in that it marks the first time that two characters express and share concern about others: both are simultaneously outraged at the philandering Proteus and worried about the abandoned Julia. In discussing such important concepts as friendship and romantic love, the two women are able to relate to each other, despite the fact that Julia views Silvia as her rival.

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