Love’s Labour’s Lost: by Shakespeare - Summary

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      Love’s Labour’s Lost, a comedy by William Shakespeare. The text of the 1623 Folio is based on that of a Quarto edition published in 1598. A precise source has not been determined, and it may be that this is one of the few plays whose story Shakespeare invented.

      Having forsworn the company of women for three years, Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his three fords, Berowne, Dumain and Longaville, are sorely tried and eventually overcome by the embassy of the Princess of France with her three ladies, Rosaline, Katharine and Maria. The complications are wittily prolonged and the language the most ornate that Shakespeare wrote. This is a play that has been understandably called Mozartian, though Lyly’s Euphues and the fashion it created was the immediate influence and the object of Shakespeare’s affectionate satire. The extravagant conceits of the courtly lovers are a feature of the play, but Shakespeare has also created a gallery of minor characters, the fantastical Spaniard Annado, the pedantic schoolteacher Holofemes, Dull the constable and Costard the clown being the most notable. They are of the kind that Ben Johnson would later develop into humours.

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