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Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labor's Lost (a Poetic Comedy)

At Navarre (in Spain), King Ferdinand explains to Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine that they can stay at the court to study and contemplate for three years, but that they must: 1) never see, speak to, or be with a woman during those three years, 2) fast once per week, and 3) sleep only three hours per night, all in order to be most fit for concentrating. Berowne finds these requirements too strict and bound to be broken, but agrees to them, predicting that he will be the last to break the rules. Anthony Dull enters with Costard (a philosopher at the academy) who is charged with breaking the rules, reported by Don Adriano de Armado, an extremely loyal philosopher. Ferdinand sentences Costard to one week of fasting, overseen by de Armado. Ironically, Armado admits to his servant Moth that he is in fact in love with a woman. Hypocritically, Armado puts Costard in prison, even after he (Armado) actually admits (around others) to Jaquenetta that he loves her and will meet her later.

The princess (daughter of the King of France) comes to Ferdinand's court. He won't let her in (following his rules), but instead meets her outside his gates, where she informs him her father wants a loan of 100,000 crowns repaid. Ferdinand denies he or his father ever received the money. Berowne, here, recognizes Rosaline (lady of the princess') and exchanges witty remarks with her. Dumaine, Longaville, and Berowne all ask Boyet (Lord with the princess) the names of the princess' three ladies, Katharine, Maria, and Rosaline. Boyet informs the princess and her ladies of the inquiries.

Armado frees Costard early on condition that he take a letter to Jaquenetta for him. On his way, Berowne gives Costard a letter for Rosaline. Costard, however, gives Armado's letter to the princess (who claims to be Rosaline). (Letter is in Act IV, scene i, line 62) At the castle, Dull, Nathaniel, and the pedant Holofernes (whose vocabulary is immense) trade witticisms. Jaquenetta asks Nathaniel to read the letter from Armado, given to her by Costard. In fact, the letter was intended for Rosaline (from Berowne), mixed up by Costard. Holofernes tells her to take the letter and Costard to the King.

Berowne, lamenting his reservations over loving Rosaline, overhears Ferdinand writing a love letter to the princess. The king and Berowne then both overhear Longaville writing one to Maria. All three overhear Dumaine writing one to Katharine. Longaville then comes forward and scolds Dumaine for his lust. The king then scolds them both. Finally, Berowne comes forward and scolds all three for breaking their oath. Berowne claims he has kept faithful, but Jaquenetta enters revealing Berowne too is in love. The four decide to break their oaths and to win over their women.

The king sends Armado to Holofernes, Nathaniel, and Dull to get an idea to entertain the ladies. They decide on a performance, the Nine Worthies. Boyet informs the ladies that the men plan to visit them, disguised as foreigners. The princess switches jewelry with Rosaline and Maria with Katharine, and all plan to wear masks to confuse the men and mock them for their game. The women vow, too, to not listen and not to dance with the men. The king, though, convinces Rosaline to go with him, alone, thinking she is the princess. Berowne departs with the princess, Dumaine with Maria, and Katharine with Longaville. Yet, the women ignore the men and the men depart in frustration. The women relish in their actions and decide, if the men return undisguised, to complain to them of their "odd visitors". The men do come back, and all admit to their respective trickeries and laugh.

The "Great Worthies" give their presentation: Costard as Pompey the Great, Nathaniel as Alexander the Conqueror, Moth as Hercules, Holofernes as Judas Maccabaeus, and Armado as Hector (Trojan Champion). Costard interrupts to inform Armado that Jaquenetta is two months pregnant, by Armado himself. Marcade then comes and informs all that the King of France has died; the performance is abruptly ended. The princess informs Ferdinand that she will marry him only if he goes into hermitage for one year. Katharine and Maria tell Dumaine and Longaville the same. Rosaline tells Berowne that he must spend his year in a hospital cheering up the terminally ill. Finally, Armado informs all he will finish his three years of study before marrying Jaquenetta. Shakespeare's play ends with the completion of the performance and an operatic solo, before the men set out on their respective pilgrimages.

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Recent Forum Posts on Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labours Lost

Ok so I'm ploughing my way through the works of Shakespeare and just finished Love's Labours Lost. I found this to be a comedy only because of the sworn oaths taken yet in the bat of an eyelid they all crumbled, including the king and then after all the tomfoolery find that for their trouble, they must take an oath not unsimilar in order to secure the hand of the women they love! I was a little confused about Costard and Armado when it came to their romp with Jacquenetta and was unsure about his fate. Is anyone clear about this?

Longaville monologue

Hi! Can someone please help me translate this classical text into modern language.. I need it for school and I don't know what to do. It's Longaville's monolouge from act 4, scene 3 from Love's Labour's Lost LONGAVILLE Ay me! I am forsworn.Am I the first that have been perjur'd so?I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move. O sweet Maria, empress of my love! These numbers will I tear, and write in prose. This same shall go. Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye, 'Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument, Persuade my heart to this false perjury? Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment. A woman I forswore; but I will prove, Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee: My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love; Thy grace being gain'd, cures all disgrace in me. Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is: Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine, Exhal'st this vapour-vow; in thee it is: If broken, then it is no fault of mine: If by me broke, what fool is not so wise To lose an oath to win a paradise! By whom shall I send this?--Company! Stay.

The Film of the play

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the dancing horse won's say a word

LLL: MOTH. Then I am sure you know how much the gross sum of deuce-ace amounts to. ARMADO. It doth amount to one more than two. MOTH. Which the base vulgar do call three. ARMADO. True. MOTH. Why, sir, is this such a piece of study? Now here is three studied ere ye'll thrice wink; and how easy it is to put 'years' to the word 'three,' and study three years in two words, the dancing horse will tell you. ARMADO. A most fine figure! MOTH. To prove you a cipher. ARMADO. I will hereupon confess I am in love. And as it is base for a soldier to love, so am I in love with a base wench. If drawing my sword against the humour of affection would deliver me from the reprobate thought of it, I would take Desire prisoner, and ransom him to any French courtier for a new-devis'd curtsy. I think scorn to sigh; methinks I should out-swear Cupid. Moth's mention of a dancing horse has been translated into a horse which tapped out numbers with a hoof. This is a false assumption. There is no evidence that there was a 'counting horse' during that period. So where is the real dancing horse? Henry Peacham's Minerva Britanna, or a Garden of Heroical Devices. Emblem 17. (Read the first line under the image very carefully.) Consider MOTH uses two and three etc: Read top of page words 2 and 3: THE MOST and see in there MOTH leaving T and E. In those times T was 19th and E was 5th in the abc. 19 plus 5 is 24 (ref 2 and 3) and 2 and 4 is 6. Count along top line to th e6th letter, which is M. Sound the letter: M is eM, EM reversed is ME. See Moth's use of ME: KING. Peace! COSTARD. Be to me, and every man that dares not fight! KING. No words! COSTARD. Of other men's secrets, I beseech you. . . . . . . COSTARD. Me? KING. 'that unlettered small-knowing soul,' COSTARD. Me? KING. 'that shallow vassal,' COSTARD. Still me? KING. 'which, as I remember, hight Costard,' COSTARD. O, me! KING. 'sorted and consorted, contrary to thy established proclaimed edict and continent canon; which, with, O, with- but with this I passion to say wherewith-' . . . Ref also Moth's 'curious knotted garden'. But why? what for? who?

Shakespeare and the Mystery of Three: Loves Labour’s Lost

I have a question that maybe someone out there can help me answer... I actually posted this on my Website, but wondering if anyone else noticed: "Here is my question, why is Shakespeare’s “Loves Labour’s Lost” so fixcated on the number “Three”? Three for example is mentioned only 8 times in both Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caeser. Three is mentioned merely 9 time’s in Shakespeare’s longest play Hamlet. Macbeth has an unlucky 13 mentions. And Yet in Loves Labour’s Lost three is mentioned 47 times! Why?" The full article is found here: Thanks Jamiie Http://

"to reason" (for and) "against reading"...

I've just begun re-reading L.L.L. Also begun feeling my way around here.:) Have some comments which maybe I can get some responses for. To begin with, should the spelling remain "labour" and not be chnaged to "labor" in a new reading? The "our" spelling will not match the way the word is spelt in the newspaper.


It traditionally doesn't.
Seen here, is a somewhat jejune approach to L.L.L. I wouldn't take everything on this one page seriously... maybe you should research it first before blurting.
Or... possibly nicly correcting the mistake would suffice.

This site is on it's way to top-notch. Thanks for the reference. :)

No Subject

Why does "Labour's" have an apostrophe?

Love's Labour's Lost - Costard

Found your site while researching my role as Costard in a production of Loves' Labour's Lost.

The site seems really useful and informative, but I noticed an error in the L.L.L. synopsis. Costard is not a "philosopher at the academy." Far from it. Costard is the Clown, one step above the village idiot. His profession is that of a swain, or herdsman.

Hope this proves useful.

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