The Ridicule Of Love In Shakespeare's 'Silvius'

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The ridicule of love is a prominent theme throughout the play, most obvious though Phoebe’s interactions with love. She is the reason for Silvius’ borderline obsession, and frequently reasons why she does not want to be with him. Phoebe ridicules Silvius, an individual who oozes traditional pastoral views on love, which includes passionately longing for the person he believes to be his one true love, for having these very ideals. She ridicules the fact that Silvius stated that her “eyes can wound” because she believed that “there is no force in eyes that can do hurt” (3.5.16, 25-26). Here, Phoebe debunks every stereotypical view on love that was shown in the pastoral age, where lovers loved each other to painful lengths, where the mental pain of not being able to be with one another transformed into physical pain. Phoebe, seeming almost cynical in the way she is dismissing Silvius, simply states she does not believe in the myth of what love feels like. She assures Silvius this is not what he feels, because those feelings could simply not exist, and if that time ever comes, not to “pity” her, because she “shall not pity” him (3.5.34-35).
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