Essay, Research Paper: Love`s Labor`s Lost


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In Love’s Labor’s Lost by William Shakespeare, King Ferdinand and his three
attendants; Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, take a vow to swear off women and
concentrate on their studies. This vow only lasted long enough for each man to
lay his eyes on the Princess of France, Rosaline, Maria, and Katherine. The
women receive love letters and gifts from the men who are trying to woo them.
Although the ladies are flattered, they are disappointed by their loves’
abilities to easily breaks their vows. Throughout the play, the men try to woo
the ladies with out ever really interacting with them because they are ashamed
of the breaking of their vows too. The men decide that they will woo once and
for all at the masquerade that they will all be attending. The women, on the
other hand, have a completely different idea of what the masquerade will
determine. The women wear masks and plan on embarrassing the men, who are
dressed as Russians, by not revealing their true identity. They can not believe
the deceitful nature of the men and plan on teaching them a lesson. The princess
says, “Therefore I do it, and I make no doubt/ The rest will [ne’er] come
in, if he be out./ There’s no such sport as sport by sport o’erthrown,/ To
make theirs ours and none but our own;/ So shall we stay; mocking intended
game,/ And they, will mock’d, depart away with shame.” (237; V, ii l.
151-156). The masks that the women are wearing symbolize how they have hid their
anger and frustration toward the men. They had never expressed their disgust
with them prior to the masquerade and feel it necessary to show the men how
foolish they have been for breaking their promises. The masks also show that the
women were afraid to let their true feeling surface. A mask is a cover;
therefore they have been covering up their inner thoughts and feelings about the
mens’ actions. It is hard for them to show the men their disappointment
because they too are in love and feel that they truly are suitable lovers.
However, they need their opinions to be expressed and appreciated. The plan
works perfectly. Each man can only recognize his loved one by the jewelry that
she is wearing, and since the ladies switched presents in order to play their
parts, the men woo the wrong lady. The King woos Rosaline, Berowne woos the
Princess, Dumaine woos Maria, and Longaville woos Katherine. The men were trying
to be sweet to each lady, while the ladies were being rude and thoroughly
confusing the men. The King approaches Rosaline by saying, “Blessed are the
clouds, to do as such clouds do!/ Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars,
to/ shine/ (Those clouds removed) upon our watery eyne.” (237; V, ii l.
203-206). Rosaline, pretending to be the Princess, replies, “O vain
petitioner! beg a greater matter,/ Thou now requests but moonshine in the
water.” (237; V,ii l. 207-208). Berowne, trying to impress Rosaline,
approaches the Princess and says, “White-handed mistress, one sweet work with/
thee.” (238; V,ii l. 229-230). The Princess comments, “Honey, and milk, and
sugar: there is three.” (238;V,ii l. 231). Mistaking Maria for Katherine,
Dumaine states, “Fair lady - “ (238; V, ii l. 237). Maria remarks, “Say
you so? Fair lord-/ Take that for your fair lady.” (238; V,ii l. 238-239). The
masks proved that the men did not really know the ladies at all, and in reality
were only in love with the beauty that was portrayed on the outside. Even though
the four women are set on speaking their minds, they are beginning to have some
doubts about embarrassing the men. They are afraid to continue pretending to be
each other when the men return without their Russian costumes. The princess
says, “What shall we do,/ If they return in their own shapes to woo?” (239;
V,ii l. 298-299). Even though the women have not fully convinced themselves that
making fools of the men is the right way to make them learn their lessons.
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