William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost in the complete original text.
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Love's Labour's Lost

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Love's Labour's Lost Play

Loves's Labour's Lost begins with Ferdinand, King of Navarre decreeing that his court shall avoid the distraction and labours of love, ignoring the charms of women, to instead concentrate on the labours of study for three years. To do this, the King tells Berowne, Longaville, and Dumain that they may study with him at the court as long as they neither see, talk, love, nor be with a woman in this time, fast once a week and to improve concentration, sleep only three hours a night. The men agree, Berowne believing these rules to be unrealistic, but vowing to at least be the last man to break them. Berowne now brings to the King's attention that the Princess of France has arrived and seeks his audience. Whilst preparing to receive the Princess, Costard the King's fool is sent to Don Armado to be punished being desiring Jacquenetta, a country girl. Wanting the girl for himself, Armado instead places Costard in prison. Remembering their vow, the King and company delay seeing the Princess, the Princess and entourage camping outside the court in protest. Eventually the King meets the Princess outside his court, learning she has come to collect on a loan, one Ferdinand denies receiving.

Boyet, who accompanies the Princess, notices the King's affection for her, the Princess and entourage now plotting to punish the King and company. Don Armado meanwhile, decides to overturn Costard's punishment if he will only send a letter to Jacquenetta. Unfortunately, the fool bumps into Berowne who also wants the fool to send a letter, this time to Rosaline, part of the Princess' entourage, whom Berowne loves. Naturally Costard mixes the two letters up, Jacquenetta receiving Berowne's letter for Rosaline and Rosaline receiving Don Armado's letter for Jacquenetta. Meanwhile in the court, the King and company's resolve to shun the charms of women is rapidly falling to pieces.... Berowne, torn by his love for Rosaline, spies King Ferdinand writing a love letter to the Princess. Shortly thereafter, the King and Berowne spy Longaville writing a love letter to Maria, then King, Berowne and Longaville all catch Dumaine writing a love letter to Katherine. Naturally King Ferdinand tells off Longaville and Dumaine but the jig is soon up when Berowne tells off everyone else for breaking their vows unlike him. Unfortunately at this point Jaquenetta comes forward, revealing even Berowne broke his vow!

Deciding their vow is causing more pain than happiness, the men decide their vow is best left broken and forgotten, each seeking their respective love... However when the Lords decide to see the ladies disguised as foreigners, the ladies forewarned by Boyet, decide to play a trick of their own, swapping jewerllery and wearing masks to disguise themselves. Each man departs with the wrong woman, each lady refusing her suitor's romantic gestures. The King and company return as themselves, the women admitting their trickery. Unfortunately, news comes of the loss of the Princess' father, forcing her to leave the court. Before leaving, the Princess tells King Ferdinand she will consider his offer of marriage if he can spend a year in a hermitage as both punishment for breaking his vow and to give the Princess time to mourn her lost father. The other ladies exact similar promises from their suitors, the play ending with the ladies vowing to return in a year to see if the men have kept their word.


Dramatis Personæ

Act I
Scene I, Scene II

Act II
Scene I

Scene I

Act IV
Scene I,
Scene II, Scene III

Act V
Scene I, Scene II - Part I, Scene II - Part II, Scene II - Part III


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