Love's Labour's Lost

Type: 
Comedy
First Performed: 
1594-95
First Printed: 
1598
"

A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover's ear will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopp'd.

"

Ferdinand, King of Navarre, declares that his court (including Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine) will be devoted to contemplation and study for three years. During this time, no women will be allowed within a mile of the court, the court will fast for one day each week, and the court will sleep only three nights per week.

While Berowne expresses skepticism over this plan, he pledges to be the last to break the rules, despite the fact that there is a visit from the Princess of France scheduled for that very day. As the Court sets out to meet the princess, Costard (the king's fool) is sent to Don Armando to atone for breaking the King's rule with the young country girl Jacquenetta. When they are denied entrance to the Court by Ferdinand, the miffed Princess and her entourage set up camp outside and plot revenge on Ferdinand.

Don Armando is also in love with Jacquenetta and conspires with Costard to release him from his punishment in exchange for delivering a message to the country girl. Berowne has also asked Costard to deliver a letter (to Rosaline) and when each woman gets the note intended for the other, confusion and comedy set in.

Meanwhile, King Ferdinand and his Court concede defeat and give up their oaths while the women are around. They don disguises to facilitate a visit to the camp of the Princess, but little do they know, the woman themselves have also donned disguises and delight in teasing the men amidst great confusion. The comedic reverie is cut short with news of the Princess' father's death, and while the Princess must rush off, she pledges her love for Ferdinand, contingent on a promise: If the King will spend one year in solitude to atone for breaking his initial oath, she will return after her mourning period to consider his proposal of marriage. Similar oaths and matches are made throughout the Court, and the play ends with the promise of future love.