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Love's Labour's Lost

William Shakespeare

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Act V, Scene ii

page 3 of 3

Act V, Scene ii

Act V, Scene ii

Act V, Scene ii

Act V, Scene ii

The behavior of Boyet and the King's lords during the show of the Nine Worthies might help to reveal the behavior of typical Elizabethan theater audiences. It was common practice for audiences to talk during plays, and Shakespeare might use the characters in Love's Labour's Lost to illustrate his audiences' rudeness. Regardless, this marks another difference between men and women in the play, since only the men act rudely to the actors. The Princess is very polite, only speaking to thank and encourage the actors, and the rest of her ladies do not speak at all during the play.

Note that during the lords' commentary on the play, they frequently interchange the names of the men with the characters they portray. This is especially evident during the argument between Costard and Armado, when the men encourage Pompey and Hector to fight.

At the end of the play, Berowne notes that the play does not end like a typical comedy: "Our wooing doth not end like an old play;/ Jack hath not Jill. . ." (V.ii.867-8). The King reassures him that "it wants a twelvemonth and a day,/ And then 'twill end;" however, Berowne adds, "[t]hat's too long for a play" (V.ii.870-1). With this statement, he refers to Aristotle's archetypal dramatic conventions, which dictated that a play observe the three unities: unity of time, place, and action. Berowne rightly points out that a time span of a year is too long for a play to observe all three unities.

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