Love's Labour's Lost | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Love's Labour's Lost | Act 1, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

Armado enters with his page, Mote, and the two exchange puns and jokes in a friendly manner. In the midst of their joking, Armado tells Mote that he is in love with Jaquenetta. Jaquenetta arrives with Costard and Dull, and Armado tells her plainly "I love thee." She only responds, "So I heard you say." After this brief exchange Dull and Jaquenetta leave Costard in Armado's custody. Armado tells Mote to take Costard away to prison, where he will complete his fast. When Mote and Costard exit, Armado speaks at length of his love for Jaquenetta, imploring "some extemporal god of rhyme" to help him write a love poem for her.

Analysis

This scene parallels the first structurally. Armado, like the three lords, has given his word that he will study with the king for three years. Like the previous scene, characters talk about a person only to have that person arrive unexpectedly. In Act 1, Scene 1 the lords discuss Costard immediately before he appears with the letter. Here Armado and Mote talk about Jaquenetta, who then appears.

And again, like Scene 1 this scene relies heavily on humorous banter, as Armado and his page exchange remarks heavily sprinkled with puns and wordplay, which build on one another. Mote proves to be the wittier of the two, and his asides (comments directed to the audience) mercilessly make fun of Armado's love for the "light wench" Jaquenetta.

Armado is described as a "braggart" and is based in part on an actual person at the English court during this time period, Antonio Pérez. Pérez neatly fit the English stereotype of a Spaniard: he was passionate, florid, and associated with danger and intrigue. (Pérez was forced to flee Spain after his involvement in a political assassination.) Some of that is revealed in this scene, as Armado is extravagant with words and emotion and more than a little concerned about his own masculinity. The back and forth between Mote and Armado reveals this obsession. Armado agrees that he is, as Mote suggests, a "gentleman and gamester." He goes on to say that these two character traits are "the varnish of a complete man." Armado seems to need reassurance that being in love is masculine, and he asks Mote to name him some great men who have been in love. Furthermore, he wants these great men to be "of good repute and carriage"—with good reputations and good manners. Although Mote uses this as an opening for a pun on "carriage"—noting that Samson "carried the town gates on his back"—it is clear that Armado wants to be a manly man and needs some examples of manly men who have been in love in order to justify his feelings for Jaquenetta.

There are a few other items of note in this scene. One is the way Armado is shaping up to parallel Berowne. It has already become apparent that both men have a great enthusiasm for using language to excess. When Armado declares his love for Jaquenetta, she remains icy and quickly shuts the conversation down. This is strikingly similar to the first meeting between Berowne and Rosaline, which will occur in the next scene. And both Berowne and Armado reflect Shakespeare's own sense of himself as a user (and abuser) of language. Armado asks "some extemporal god of rhyme" to assist him in writing a sonnet, ending the scene with "I am for whole volumes in folio."

Another item to notice is that Jaquenetta, as a lower-class woman, will be allowed within the grounds as a dairy maid, despite the king's proclamation that no women be allowed. Oaths, mores, and conventions are not viewed as applying as much to those of low class. This can also be seen in the light punishment Costard is given, which is a far cry from what the king's proclamation demands (indeed, soon Costard's punishment will be lifted entirely—as soon as his services are needed). One set of rules is in place for the nobility and another for the peasantry because the nobility needs servants. This again displays the tension between the king's idealism and the demands of real life—the aristocrats can play at being monastic scholars, but someone still needs to get work done.

Finally, the theme of conventions of love is developed as Armado, newly in love, feels that his next step is to write a love poem. Shortly it will become clear that writing a love poem is an important convention of romantic love.

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