Love's Labour's Lost | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Love's Labour's Lost | Act 5, Scene 1 | Summary

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Summary

Holofernes, Nathaniel, and Dull discuss Armado, making fun of his tendency to use flowery and elaborate language. Holofernes suggests that Armado "draweth out the thread of his verbosity," then proceeds to go into lengthy detail as he critiques the finer points of Armado's use of language.

Armado, Costard, and Mote arrive. After a bit of witty repartee, Armado reveals that the king asked him to provide some pageantry as entertainment for the princess. Armado wants Holofernes and Nathaniel to help. Holofernes suggests the Nine Worthies—a pageant that will include great men of history such as Joshua, Judas Maccabaeus, Pompey the Great, and a young Hercules.

Analysis

The comedy of excessive verbosity reaches new heights in this scene. First, Holfernes's criticisms of Armado's extravagant language is comedic because Holofernes's language is just as excessive and pretentious, though in a more academic way. The scene begins as Holofernes leads a lengthy criticism of Armado's writing style and continues in a ridiculous manner after Armado arrives, with all three of them in full form and trying to outdo each other. As Mote says, "They have been at a great feast of languages and stolen the scraps."

As if to emphasize the outrageousness of the dialogue, Shakespeare allows the uneducated Costard to use a ludicrously long word, famous for its presence in the play: honorificabilitudinitatibus. This Latin word translates to something like "able to be honorable." This definition is not important to the dialogue because Costard is using it as an example of a long word to point out how small Mote is. But its definition reflects the theme of reputation and the plot device of making and breaking oaths.

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