Love Labour’s Lost is not one of Shakespeare’s most well known plays, but it is still produced around the world and features some fantastic monologues for actors. It’s a comedy, and like many of Shakespeare’s classic comedies features much confusion, romance, and of course a dress up party (this time it’s Russian themed).
So first of all let’s take a look at what this plays is all about…
Though it’s a touch silly, this finger puppet explanation ain’t a bad start… (full synopsis below)
Full Character List
Ferdinand, King of Navarre
Princess of France
Marcadé – messenger
Don Armado – a fantastical Spaniard
Moth – Armado’s page
Costard – a rustic
Jaquenetta – country wench
Sir Nathaniel – curate
Holofernes – schoolmaster
Dull – constable
Love Labour’s Lost Story Line
First, let’s set the scene for the play.
Ferdinand, The King of Navarre, and his three mates, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, make a deal to study hard for three years, ignoring all other worldly distractions such as lavish dinners, but most importantly, women!
As soon as they have made this deal, the Princess of France arrives with her three ladies in waiting: Rosaline, Maria, and Katharine. Turning down royalty is difficult, so they meet with the ladies outside the court. They soon realise that they all have romantic history with these particular women. The stage is set!
Don Armado, a Spaniard visiting the court, is in love with Jaquenetta, a servant girl. He sends Costard (a dumb servant) to her with his love letter. Berowne, also writes a love letter to his new love, Rosalind. He choses Costard to send his letter (not his best idea). And in classic Shakespearean fashion the letters are mixed up! Costard, you silly thing!
Whilst Berowne awaits a reply, he overhears King Ferdinand reading over his own love letter to the Princess of France. And then the other two, Dumaine and Longaville follow suit. Berowne is lording it over them all when Jaquenetta comes in with his love letter. They have attempted to be conspiratorial, but are found out. So Berowne suggests that the only solution is to give up the agreement and get some girls! And what better way to entice them then to throw a masked ball. (oh and obviously dressed up as Russians). The boys send the girls gifts and invite them to the party!
The women are unimpressed by the men’s weak vowels and so they decide to make a joke of their male counterparts, swapping their gifts, so that the men will flirt with the wrong women. Eventually the women reveal their true identity, great prank gals!
Don Armado puts on a show. The boys laugh, but the women are the picture of graciousness. However, before the revels are finished the Princess receives word that her father has died and she must return to France immediately.
The boys profess their love, but the women are sceptical, pointing out how weak their vows have been previously. They ask the boys to wait a year until they have finished mourning and if they do, then and only then will they be married.
And so the play ends, with little resolution… How faithful will the boys be?
Love Labour’s Lost Monologues
King Ferdinand – Act 1 Scene 1
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 endeavour 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, Berowne, 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 armed to do as sworn to do,
Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.
Armado Act 1 Scene 2
I do affect the very ground, which is base, where
her shoe, which is baser, guided by her foot, which
is basest, doth tread. I shall be forsworn, which
is a great argument of falsehood, if I love. And
how can that be true love which is falsely
attempted? Love is a familiar; Love is a devil:
there is no evil angel but Love. Yet was Samson so
tempted, and he had an excellent strength; yet was
Solomon so seduced, and he had a very good wit.
Cupid’s butt-shaft is too hard for Hercules’ club;
and therefore too much odds for a Spaniard’s rapier.
The first and second cause will not serve my turn;
the passado he respects not, the duello he regards
not: his disgrace is to be called boy; but his
glory is to subdue men. Adieu, valour! rust rapier!
be still, drum! for your manager is in love; yea,
he loveth. Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme,
for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit;
write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.
Berowne – Act 3 scene 1
And I, forsooth, in love!
I, that have been love’s whip,
A very beadle to a humorous sigh,
A critic, nay, a night-watch constable,
A domineering pedant o’er the boy,
Than whom no mortal so magnificent!
This wimpled, whining, purblind, wayward boy,
This Signor-Junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid,
Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,
Th’ anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents,
Dread prince of plackets, king of codpieces,
Sole imperator and great general
Of trotting paritors – O my little heart!
And I to be a corporal of his field,
And wear his colours like a tumbler’s hoop!
What? I love? I sue? I seek a wife?
A woman, that is like a German clock,
Still a-repairing, ever out of frame,
And never going aright, being a watch,
But being watched that it may still go right!
Nay, to be perjured, which is worst of all;
And among three to love the worst of all –
A whitely wanton with a velvet brow,
With two pitch-balls stuck in her face for eyes;
Ay, and, by heaven, one that will do the deed
Though Argus were her eunuch and her guard!
And I to sigh for her, to watch for her,
To pray for her! Go to, it is a plague
That Cupid will impose for my neglect
Of his almighty dreadful little might.
Well, I will love, write, sigh, pray, sue, and groan;
Some men must love my lady, and some Joan.
Full monologue breakdown of Berowne’s Monologue
Berowne – Act 4 Scene 3
Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.[Advancing]
Ah, good my liege, I pray thee, pardon me!
Good heart, what grace hast thou, thus to reprove
These worms for loving, that art most in love?
Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears
There is no certain princess that appears;
You’ll not be perjured, ’tis a hateful thing;
Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting!
But are you not ashamed? nay, are you not,
All three of you, to be thus much o’ershot?
You found his mote; the king your mote did see;
But I a beam do find in each of three.
O, what a scene of foolery have I seen,
Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow and of teen!
O me, with what strict patience have I sat,
To see a king transformed to a gnat!
To see great Hercules whipping a gig,
And profound Solomon to tune a jig,
And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys,
And critic Timon laugh at idle toys!
Where lies thy grief, O, tell me, good Dumain?
And gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain?
And where my liege’s? all about the breast:
A caudle, ho!
Princess of France Act 5 Scene 2
A time, methinks, too short
To make a world-without-end bargain in.
No, no, my lord, your grace is perjured much,
Full of dear guiltiness; and therefore this:
If for my love, as there is no such cause,
You will do aught, this shall you do for me:
Your oath I will not trust; but go with speed
To some forlorn and naked hermitage,
Remote from all the pleasures of the world;
There stay until the twelve celestial signs
Have brought about the annual reckoning.
If this austere insociable life
Change not your offer made in heat of blood;
If frosts and fasts, hard lodging and thin weeds
Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love,
But that it bear this trial and last love;
Then, at the expiration of the year,
Come challenge me, challenge me by these deserts,
And, by this virgin palm now kissing thine
I will be thine; and till that instant shut
My woeful self up in a mourning house,
Raining the tears of lamentation
For the remembrance of my father’s death.
If this thou do deny, let our hands part,
Neither entitled in the other’s heart.
Rosalind Act 5 Scene 2
Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Biron,
Before I saw you; and the world’s large tongue
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks,
Full of comparisons and wounding flouts,
Which you on all estates will execute
That lie within the mercy of your wit.
To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain,
And therewithal to win me, if you please,
Without the which I am not to be won,
You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day
Visit the speechless sick and still converse
With groaning wretches; and your task shall be,
With all the fierce endeavour of your wit
To enforce the pained impotent to smile.
There you go. Some of the best Shakespeare monologues from Love Labour’s Lost. These are some great pieces to play with especially if you are looking for a monologue that is a little unique.