Love's Labour's Lost

by: William Shakespeare

Act V, Scene ii

Summary Act V, Scene ii


The Princess shows her ladies a jewel that the King has sent her, and the four women discuss love. Katherine mentions her sister, who died of love. Rosaline tells them that she has received a letter from Berowne with verses and a picture of her. Katherine has received a letter and a pair of gloves from Dumaine, and Maria has received a letter and some pearls from Longaville.

Boyet arrives and tells the ladies that the King and his companions are on their way, dressed as Muscovites, to court their respective loves. The Princess tells her ladies to mask themselves and to switch favors, so that the men will "[W]oo contrary, deceived by these removes" (V.ii.135).

The men enter, and Moth makes a speech, during which Boyet interrupts him and Berowne corrects him. Rosaline, speaking as the Princess, asks what the strangers want, and the King tells her they want to converse with them. Each man takes turns appealing to the woman he thinks is his lady, and each pair converses apart. Rosaline tells them it is time to go, and the men leave. Each woman reveals that her respective man has pledged his love to her, and they note happily how gullible the men have turned out to be. They realize that the men will soon return, and thus they switch their favors back.

The men arrive, dressed as themselves again, and the King offers to bring the women to his court. However, the Princess tells him that she does not want him to break his oath, for "[n]or God, nor I, delights in perjured men" (V.ii.346). She then tells him that a group of Russians has recently visited, and Rosaline complains that the Russians were fools. The women reveal that the costumes did not fool them, and the King fears the men will endure mockery.

The King confesses that he was just there, in costume, and the Princess asks him what he told his lady. She warns him that he has to keep his oath, and he ensures her that he will. She then asks Rosaline what the Russian told her, and she repeats the words of the King. He says that he knew the Princess by the jewel on her sleeve, and the men realize the trick that the women played on them. Berowne realizes that "to our perjury to add more terror,/ We are again forsworn, in will and error" (V.ii.470-1).

Costard enters and asks the King if he would like the Worthies to begin their show. Berowne tells them to prepare, but the King worries that they will be shamed. Berowne tells him that "'tis some policy/ To have one show worse than the king's and his company" (V.ii.509-10). The Princess also expresses her desire to see the show, and so it begins.

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