Love 's Labor 's Lost

2107 WordsApr 21, 20179 Pages
Love’s Labor’s Lost (1598) by William Shakespeare shows a humorous “battle of the sexes” among members of the aristocracy. While this battle may seem like a harmless game of wits on the surface, there is a serious lack of authentic communication that underlies this comedic play, which spells trouble for male and female relations in general. Through insincere words, vows, and writing, both sexes – men especially – show a failure to love and communicate genuinely. This “battle of the sexes,” at least superficially, does not seem to have much at stake. The men do have vows to keep, but they are easily worked around once the men realize that they are all in love. After these vows are dismissed, the men enjoy this battle as a game more than…show more content…
On one hand, Berowne’s apparent sorrow shows his willingness to take the oath seriously. However, on the other hand, if Berowne truly loved Rosaline, it is perplexing that he should love “the worst of all,” describing her eyes as “two pitch balls stuck in her face.” This is not a flattering description at all, and if Berowne feels this way about Rosaline, it is not clear as to why he has trouble keeping his vow; it is almost as if Berowne is more interested in the performance of love than the beloved herself. It also likely has to do with the fact that Berowne does not want to follow the oath, and is looking for a way out – and it would seem that this is true for the other men as well. When the men look to Berowne for reassurance after breaking their oaths, Berowne says of swearing off women, “We have made a vow to study, lords, / And in that vow we have forsworn our books” (Shakespeare 4.3.292-293). Berowne makes the argument that they are supposed to be studying, and that studying is impossible without being able to look at a woman’s beautiful face. This argument is tenuous at best, but it does the job, because the men would take any excuse to allow them to forsake their oaths. It is quite interesting that the men are willing to break one vow to swear another – namely, the vow to love the
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