Love's Labour's Lost

by: William Shakespeare

Act V, Scene ii

Summary Act V, Scene ii

Costard enters as Pompey, and Boyet mocks him during his speech. Berowne admires Boyet's mocking: "Well said, old mocker: I must needs be friends with thee" (V.ii.544). The Princess thanks him, and Nathaniel enters as Alexander. Boyet and Berowne mock him, but the Princess encourages him to continue. Berowne tells Pompey to take Alexander away, and Nathaniel exits. Holofernes and Moth enter as Judas Maccabeus and Hercules, respectively. Holofernes delivers a speech about Hercules, and Moth exits. Boyet, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine all mock Holofernes, and he complains that "[t]his is not generous, not gentle, not humble" (V.ii.623) and leaves. Armado enters as Hector and begins his speech, after being encouraged to do so by the Princess. While he is speaking, Costard enters and tells Armado that Jaquenetta is pregnant. Armado threatens to kill Costard, and he responds, "Then shall Hector be whipped for Jaquenetta that is/ quick by him and hang'd for Pompey that is dead by/ him" (V.ii.692-4). Armado challenges Costard, and the rivals prepare to fight.

A messenger named Mercadé enters and tells the Princess that he has news of her father. Even before he tells her, she realizes that he is dead, and Berowne commands the Worthies away. The Princess thanks the King and his lords for their entertainment and tells him that they will leave that night. He entreats her to stay, and the men once again appeal to their ladies for love. The Princess tells the King that he should become a hermit for twelve months and then seek her again, and Katharine and Maria tell Dumaine and Longaville that they will receive them again in one year under similar conditions. Rosaline tells Berowne that he must spend one year using his wit to make the sick smile. He tells her, "it is impossible:/ Mirth cannot move a soul in agony" (V.ii.849-50). She insists, however, and he agrees.

As the women are about to depart, Armado enters and asks the King if they can perform the song that would have been sung at the conclusion of their play. He gives permission, and the cast of the play re-enters to perform a song of winter and spring.

Katherine's mention of her sister, who has died of love, starts the audience thinking about death and subtly foreshadows the news of the King's death.

Rosaline, acting as the Princess, once again illustrates the women's literal interpretation of language when the King says they have measured many miles in their journey. She tells Boyet to "[a]sk them how many inches/ Is in one mile: if they have measured many,/ The measure then of one is easily told" (V.ii.188-90). The Princess, acting as Rosaline, responds to Berowne's request for "one sweet word with thee" with "Honey, and milk, and sugar, there is three" (V.ii.230-1).

Berowne's frustration with the women's literal treatment of language finally comes to a climax, and he swears off all poetical techniques for wooing: "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,/ By this white glove--how white the hand, God knows!--/ Henceforth my wooing mind shall be exprest/ In russet yeas and honest kersey noes." (V.ii.406-13) Berowne has not sworn off wit altogether, however, as he happily admires and then joins Boyet's mocking of the actors in the play of the Nine Worthies.

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