bc

Love's Labour's Lost

book_age0+
184
FOLLOW
86
READ
like
intro-logo
Blurb

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.

chap-preview
Free preview
Act 1, Scene I

Enter FERDINAND king of Navarre, BIRON, LONGAVILLE and DUMAIN

FERDINAND

Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,

Live register'd upon our brazen tombs

And then grace us in the disgrace of death;

When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,

The endeavor of this present breath may buy

That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge

And make us heirs of all eternity.

Therefore, brave conquerors,--for so you are,

That war against your own affections

And the huge army of the world's desires,--

Our late edict shall strongly stand in force:

Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;

Our court shall be a little Academe,

Still and contemplative in living art.

You three, Biron, Dumain, and Longaville,

Have sworn for three years' term to live with me

My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes

That are recorded in this schedule here:

Your oaths are pass'd; and now subscribe your names,

That his own hand may strike his honour down

That violates the smallest branch herein:

If you are arm'd to do as sworn to do,

Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.

LONGAVILLE

I am resolved; 'tis but a three years' fast:

The mind shall banquet, though the body pine:

Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits

Make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits.

DUMAIN

My loving lord, Dumain is mortified:

The grosser manner of these world's delights

He throws upon the gross world's baser slaves:

To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die;

With all these living in philosophy.

BIRON

I can but say their protestation over;

So much, dear liege, I have already sworn,

That is, to live and study here three years.

But there are other strict observances;

As, not to see a woman in that term,

Which I hope well is not enrolled there;

And one day in a week to touch no food

And but one meal on every day beside,

The which I hope is not enrolled there;

And then, to sleep but three hours in the night,

And not be seen to wink of all the day--

When I was wont to think no harm all night

And make a dark night too of half the day--

Which I hope well is not enrolled there:

O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,

Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep!

FERDINAND

Your oath is pass'd to pass away from these.

BIRON

Let me say no, my liege, an if you please:

I only swore to study with your grace

And stay here in your court for three years' space.

LONGAVILLE

You swore to that, Biron, and to the rest.

BIRON

By yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jest.

What is the end of study? let me know.

FERDINAND

Why, that to know, which else we should not know.

BIRON

Things hid and barr'd, you mean, from common sense?

FERDINAND

Ay, that is study's godlike recompense.

BIRON

Come on, then; I will swear to study so,

To know the thing I am forbid to know:

As thus,--to study where I well may dine,

When I to feast expressly am forbid;

Or study where to meet some mistress fine,

When mistresses from common sense are hid;

Or, having sworn too hard a keeping oath,

Study to break it and not break my troth.

If study's gain be thus and this be so,

Study knows that which yet it doth not know:

Swear me to this, and I will ne'er say no.

FERDINAND

These be the stops that hinder study quite

And train our intellects to vain delight.

BIRON

Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain,

Which with pain purchased doth inherit pain:

As, painfully to pore upon a book

To seek the light of truth; while truth the while

Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look:

Light seeking light doth light of light beguile:

So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,

Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.

Study me how to please the eye indeed

By fixing it upon a fairer eye,

Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed

And give him light that it was blinded by.

Study is like the heaven's glorious sun

That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks:

Small have continual plodders ever won

Save base authority from others' books

These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights

That give a name to every fixed star

Have no more profit of their shining nights

Than those that walk and wot not what they are.

Too much to know is to know nought but fame;

And every godfather can give a name.

FERDINAND

How well he's read, to reason against reading!

DUMAIN

Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!

LONGAVILLE

He weeds the corn and still lets grow the weeding.

BIRON

The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.

DUMAIN

How follows that?

BIRON

Fit in his place and time.

DUMAIN

In reason nothing.

BIRON

Something then in rhyme.

FERDINAND

Biron is like an envious sneaping frost,

That bites the first-born infants of the spring.

BIRON

Well, say I am; why should proud summer boast

Before the birds have any cause to sing?

Why should I joy in any abortive birth?

At Christmas I no more desire a rose

Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;

But like of each thing that in season grows.

So you, to study now it is too late,

Climb o'er the house to unlock the little gate.

FERDINAND

Well, sit you out: go home, Biron: adieu.

BIRON

No, my good lord; I have sworn to stay with you:

And though I have for barbarism spoke more

Than for that angel knowledge you can say,

Yet confident I'll keep what I have swore

And bide the penance of each three years' day.

Give me the paper; let me read the same;

And to the strict'st decrees I'll write my name.

FERDINAND

How well this yielding rescues thee from shame!

BIRON

[Reads] 'Item, That no woman shall come within a

mile of my court:' Hath this been proclaimed?

LONGAVILLE

Four days ago.

BIRON

Let's see the penalty.

Reads

'On pain of losing her tongue.' Who devised this penalty?

LONGAVILLE

Marry, that did I.

BIRON

Sweet lord, and why?

LONGAVILLE

To fright them hence with that dread penalty.

BIRON

A dangerous law against gentility!

Reads

'Item, If any man be seen to talk with a woman

within the term of three years, he shall endure such

public shame as the rest of the court can possibly devise.'

This article, my liege, yourself must break;

For well you know here comes in embassy

The French king's daughter with yourself to speak--

A maid of grace and complete majesty--

About surrender up of Aquitaine

To her decrepit, sick and bedrid father:

Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.

FERDINAND

What say you, lords? Why, this was quite forgot.

BIRON

So study evermore is overshot:

While it doth study to have what it would

It doth forget to do the thing it should,

And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,

'Tis won as towns with fire, so won, so lost.

FERDINAND

We must of force dispense with this decree;

She must lie here on mere necessity.

BIRON

Necessity will make us all forsworn

Three thousand times within this three years' space;

For every man with his affects is born,

Not by might master'd but by special grace:

If I break faith, this word shall speak for me;

I am forsworn on 'mere necessity.'

So to the laws at large I write my name:

Subscribes

And he that breaks them in the least degree

Stands in attainder of eternal shame:

Suggestions are to other as to me;

But I believe, although I seem so loath,

I am the last that will last keep his oath.

But is there no quick recreation granted?

FERDINAND

Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted

With a refined traveller of Spain;

A man in all the world's new fashion planted,

That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;

One whom the music of his own vain tongue

Doth ravish like enchanting harmony;

A man of complements, whom right and wrong

Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:

This child of fancy, that Armado hight,

For interim to our studies shall relate

In high-born words the worth of many a knight

From tawny Spain lost in the world's debate.

How you delight, my lords, I know not, I;

But, I protest, I love to hear him lie

And I will use him for my minstrelsy.

BIRON

Armado is a most illustrious wight,

A man of fire-new words, fashion's own knight.

LONGAVILLE

Costard the swain and he shall be our sport;

And so to study, three years is but short.

Enter DULL with a letter, and COSTARD

DULL

Which is the duke's own person?

BIRON

This, fellow: what wouldst?

DULL

I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his

grace's tharborough: but I would see his own person

in flesh and blood.

BIRON

This is he.

DULL

Signior Arme--Arme--commends you. There's villany

abroad: this letter will tell you more.

COSTARD

Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me.

FERDINAND

A letter from the magnificent Armado.

BIRON

How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words.

LONGAVILLE

A high hope for a low heaven: God grant us patience!

BIRON

To hear? or forbear laughing?

LONGAVILLE

To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately; or to

forbear both.

BIRON

Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause to

climb in the merriness.

COSTARD

The matter is to me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta.

The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner.

BIRON

In what manner?

COSTARD

In manner and form following, sir; all those three:

I was seen with her in the manor-house, sitting with

her upon the form, and taken following her into the

park; which, put together, is in manner and form

following. Now, sir, for the manner,--it is the

manner of a man to speak to a woman: for the form,--

in some form.

BIRON

For the following, sir?

COSTARD

As it shall follow in my correction: and God defend

the right!

FERDINAND

Will you hear this letter with attention?

BIRON

As we would hear an oracle.

COSTARD

Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh.

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'Great deputy, the welkin's vicegerent and

sole dominator of Navarre, my soul's earth's god,

and body's fostering patron.'

COSTARD

Not a word of Costard yet.

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'So it is,'--

COSTARD

It may be so: but if he say it is so, he is, in

telling true, but so.

FERDINAND

Peace!

COSTARD

Be to me and every man that dares not fight!

FERDINAND

No words!

COSTARD

Of other men's secrets, I beseech you.

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'So it is, besieged with sable-coloured

melancholy, I did commend the black-oppressing humour

to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving

air; and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to

walk. The time when. About the sixth hour; when

beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down

to that nourishment which is called supper: so much

for the time when. Now for the ground which; which,

I mean, I walked upon: it is y-cleped thy park. Then

for the place where; where, I mean, I did encounter

that obscene and preposterous event, that draweth

from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which

here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest;

but to the place where; it standeth north-north-east

and by east from the west corner of thy curious-

knotted garden: there did I see that low-spirited

swain, that base minnow of thy mirth,'--

COSTARD

Me?

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'that unlettered small-knowing soul,'--

COSTARD

Me?

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'that shallow vassal,'--

COSTARD

Still me?

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'which, as I remember, hight Costard,'--

COSTARD

O, me!

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'sorted and consorted, contrary to thy

established proclaimed edict and continent canon,

which with,--O, with--but with this I passion to say

wherewith,--

COSTARD

With a wench.

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'with a child of our grandmother Eve, a

female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a

woman. Him I, as my ever-esteemed duty pricks me on,

have sent to thee, to receive the meed of

punishment, by thy sweet grace's officer, Anthony

Dull; a man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and

estimation.'

DULL

'Me, an't shall please you; I am Anthony Dull.

FERDINAND

[Reads] 'For Jaquenetta,--so is the weaker vessel

called which I apprehended with the aforesaid

swain,--I keep her as a vessel of the law's fury;

and shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring

her to trial. Thine, in all compliments of devoted

and heart-burning heat of duty.

DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO.'

BIRON

This is not so well as I looked for, but the best

that ever I heard.

FERDINAND

Ay, the best for the worst. But, sirrah, what say

you to this?

COSTARD

Sir, I confess the wench.

FERDINAND

Did you hear the proclamation?

COSTARD

I do confess much of the hearing it but little of

the marking of it.

FERDINAND

It was proclaimed a year's imprisonment, to be taken

with a wench.

COSTARD

I was taken with none, sir: I was taken with a damsel.

FERDINAND

Well, it was proclaimed 'damsel.'

COSTARD

This was no damsel, neither, sir; she was a virgin.

FERDINAND

It is so varied, too; for it was proclaimed 'virgin.'

COSTARD

If it were, I deny her virginity: I was taken with a maid.

FERDINAND

This maid will not serve your turn, sir.

COSTARD

This maid will serve my turn, sir.

FERDINAND

Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall fast

a week with bran and water.

COSTARD

I had rather pray a month with mutton and porridge.

FERDINAND

And Don Armado shall be your keeper.

My Lord Biron, see him deliver'd o'er:

And go we, lords, to put in practise that

Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.

Exeunt FERDINAND, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAIN

BIRON

I'll lay my head to any good man's hat,

These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.

Sirrah, come on.

COSTARD

I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is, I was

taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true

girl; and therefore welcome the sour cup of

prosperity! Affliction may one day smile again; and

till then, sit thee down, sorrow!

Exeunt

LOVE'S LABOURS LOST

editor-pick
Dreame-Editor's pick

bc

Mitch

read
4.3K
bc

Love in the Clouds

read
2.8K
bc

Plus Size Romance

read
1.7K
bc

Cowboy Sandwich

read
22.7K
bc

Mr. White

read
5.7K
bc

The Twisted Oak

read
8.3K
bc

The Room Mate

read
62.2K
dreame logo

Download Dreame APP

download_iosApp Store
google icon
Google Play