Shakespeare/Love`s Labor`s Lost term paper 12411

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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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