The play Love’s Labours Lost, by William Shakespeare

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3 pages (750 words)
The play Loves Labours Lost, by William Shakespeare, is the story of The King of Navarre and his three lords, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, who swear an oath to scholarship, which leads them to fast and avoid having any contact with women for three years. Around the same time, the Princess of France arrives, but the King cannot receive her into his court because of this oath. Despite this, the three lords fall in love with members of the Princess’s party and the King falls in love with the Princess. Each of the characters spends time spying on the others and learning of their love for the different members of the Princess’s party. In the end, the men admit their love for the women and decide that they will break the oath and court the women of their choosing. At this time, the King and the lords arrive at the Princess’s dwelling dressed as Muscovites. The women, however, play a prank on the men and dress differently so that the men will mistake them for each other. As the four couples get to know one another, a messenger arrives and tells the Princess that her father has died. This prompts the women to leave and they instruct their suitors to find then again in a year. The reason why this play is so difficult to perform live is that, first of all, there are many scenes in which characters are hiding, which can be difficult to do live. Also, at one point they watch a show, which would also be difficult to incorporate into a live performance.

The positive feature of the plan was that it was meant to provide a distraction free learning environment for the King and his court. Since the King is a scholar, it is possible to see why this would be a positive for him. He wishes to take a break from the worldly pleasures that would distract him from his scholarship. This play presents learning and scholarship as being very important in this court, so this plan is aimed at maximumizing this learning potential, as “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” (Act I Scene I).

The first negative feature of this plan is that by giving up worldly pleasures, the characters are opening themselves up to temptation. Also, by meeting up with the women outside of the court, they are putting themselves in a position to be tempted, which usually ends up with people going against their word. The third problem with this plan is that they did not provide themselves with enough food. Food is essential for learning because it provides the fuel on which the brains runs. The lack of food would make their learning more difficult than is otherwise would be, which does not make any sense because they should have been doing everything possible to ensure that the learning environment was comfortable. The fourth flaw with the plan was that each of the characters was trying to get away with his actions, while still attempting to catch the other characters doing the same. This means that none of them truly believed that the oath was a good idea, since each of them soon wanted out of it, as Berowne says, “I am coursing myself: they have pitched a toil: I am tolling in a pitch,—pitch that defiles: defile! A foul word! Well, sit thee down, sorrow! For so they say the fool said, and so say I, and I am the fool: well proved, wit!” (Act IV, Scene III).

The effect that this had on the court was that it led to the members spying on each other in order to prove that the others had been breaking the oath. This is important because it shows a lack of trust amongst the characters, which is a major negative when an oath is involved. This also shows that anyone can be tempted under the right circumstances, as the characters are obviously tempted by the first females that they encounter after the oath was made, which allows for them women to play a prank on them, as Berowne says, “Our wooing doth not end like an old play; Jack hath not Jill: these ladies’ courtesy, might well have made our sport a comedy” (Act V, Scene II).

This play is similar to the education in the modern world because of the distractions that are involved. When a student is in school, there are constant distractions from members of the opposite sex and these distractions are explored in this text. Also, many university students know what it is like to be hungry when studying for exams, since they do not have much money, so that is another parallel in this play.


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