Saturday, April 2, 2011

Love's Labour's Lost - Failure of Wit

Biron. O, never will I trust to speeches penn'd,
Nor to the motion of a schoolboy's tongue,
Nor never come in vizard to my friend,
Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper's song!
Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer-flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:
I do forswear them; and I here protest, ....
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes...

As I mentioned before, I found all the frivolous wit in this play very annoying. Imagine my delight when Biron, one of the main offenders, realizes the error of his ways and promises to be more homely, plain (russet and kersey) and sincere in his use of language. All the elaborate posturing that the men have "put on" order to win the women - wearing masks, disguises, writing flowery sonnets - was not only ineffectual, it was actually counter-productive in a way because it kept the true self hidden. How could a person love someone that was a caricature of a Renaissance lover without knowing the real individual underneath? Though the men were very confident that they would have no problems courting the Princess and her ladies - "Longueville. Shall we resolve to woo these girls of France? King. And win them, too!" - the mocking responses of the women seem to show that it isn't just the twist of fate at the end that makes their love's labour's lost; rather, their showy, by-the-book wooing is not as valuable as simple sincerity. Perhaps all of love's "labour," if expressed as Biron explains in opening quotation, is just a loss and a waste.

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