Love's Labor's Lost

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Love's Labor's Lost
by William Shakespeare

I’m normally a big fan of Shakespeare’s plays, and while I enjoyed parts of this one, it still fell a bit flat for me. The King of Navarre and three of his friends decide they will swear off women and other temptations for three years while they focus on their studies. Of course they decide to do this shortly before the Princess of France and her friends are about to visit. No sooner is the vow made than all four men are swooning over the lovely ladies.

There are some really funny parts, like when the men try to hold each other to their vow while at the same time writing love letters to their new crushes. As with all of Shakespeare’s comedies, hidden identities and witty dialogue confound the characters as they find themselves unexpectedly falling in love.


The play ends with a bit of an unusual cliff hanger. The lovers are all separated when the Princess must return to rule France after hearing of her father’s unexpected death. There is a theory that a sequel to the play existed but there are no surviving copies. The play “Love’s Labour’s Won” is mentioned in other texts from around the same time and it could have been the sequel that resolved the lovers’ future.


BOTTOM LINE: This isn’t one of the Bard’s strongest plays, but if you’re already a fan then it’s worth reading. If not, start with one of his better comedies, like Twelfth Night, As You Like It or Much Ado About Nothing.

“He hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book; he hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink.”

“As sweet and musical
As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair;
And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.”

I read this as part of the Let’s Read Plays yearlong event hosted by Fanda. From November 2012 to October 2013 participants will read 12 classics plays throughout the year, at least one each month.


Jeanne said...

There's a hilarious Doctor Who episode (new series, third season) about Love's Labor's Won and why there are no existing copies.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - I love that episode! That same episode has a few great lines about Harry Potter as well. It's like nerd heaven.

Nikki Steele said...

The set-up does sound pretty funny even if a bit lacking by the end. And I wonder how many great theories we could come up with as to where the sequel went. :D

Fanda Classiclit said...

Hmmm....don't seem quite interesting. Is it funny enough, at least? :D

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Nikki - I know! Wouldn't it be incredible if they found it one day?

Fanda - Honestly, it wasn't even that entertaining. It still had Shakespeare's great wit though, and that makes it worth reading.