Summary and Analysis
Act II: Scene 1
In Milan, we find Speed taking great pleasure in aggravating his master, who shows all the external signs of being in love. "You have learned," he tells Valentine,
to wreathe your arms, like a malcontent; to
relish a lovesong, like a robin redbreast;
to walk alone, like one that had the pestilence;
to sigh, like a schoolboy that had lost his A B C. . . . (18–21)
When the object of his affections requests the letter she had commissioned him to write for her to a "third party," it is obvious to Speed that the love letter was really meant for Valentine himself, an indirect expression of affection from Silvia. Valentine, however, does not seem to catch on. The previous words exchanged with Speed are all too appropriate:
Speed: If you love her, you cannot see her.
Speed: Because Love is blind. (74–76)
Speed turns the talk to more practical matters, in the tradition of eternally hungry comic servants, "though the chamelon Love can feed on the air, I am one that am nourished by my victuals, and would fain have meat," and the two exit.
With quick, almost too obvious irony, Valentine has fallen in love. Silvia is well worth the fall, it seems, as she cleverly "woos [him] by a figure," as Speed puts it. "Eating love' has indeed begun to take possession of this "fine wit' Valentine. In Speed's delineation of lovers! affectations, Shakespeare pokes gentle fun at youthful folly.