The Power of Love

Author: John Tevere

The legendary William Shakespeare’s play, Love’s Labour’s Lost demonstrates the ability of love in overcoming any other force. The king and his three lords, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, swear an oath to remain singletons for a period of three years, and focus on their studies to create a renowned academe of intellectuals. It is during this time when the princess of France visits the king and his court that they fall in love despite the oath they took. Shakespeare’s intention for writing this play can be uncovered through an analysis of this conflict, often leaving his audience with little doubt that love can conquer any obstacle.

Shakespeare foreshadows the end of the play through the princess when she kills the deer and states, “As I for praise alone now seek to spill the poor Deer’s blood, that my heart means no ill” (V, 817-818). Along with, “Only for praise, and praise we may afford, to any Lady that subdues a Lord” (V, 821-822) it can be inferred that the princess seeks praise and glory from her peers. After understanding Shakespeare’s purpose at the end of the play when the princess and her companions tell the king and his court to fulfill their oath, it can be understood that the princess tries to exert her power over the king by forcing him to complete the original mission they set out for, then looking for love. This is only plausible because the king and his court have fallen in love with the women and as a result, they are able to convince them to fulfill their oath. Love in this case is a force so strong that it was able to deter the men from their original hope of creating a renowned academe, then love convinced the men to resume this task and upon completing the third year of study they may attain the love they desire from the women.

By contrasting love with the search for knowledge, Shakespeare shows that even a pursuit as noble as higher education is susceptible to love. It is clear then that through this play Shakespeare is discussing the immense power of love. The woman are empowered through love because they are able to manipulate the men, such as when they disguised themselves when the king and his three lords were dressed as Muscovites. The princess even says, “There’s no such sport, as sport by sport o’erthrown: To make theirs ours, and ours none but our own. So shall we stay mocking intended game, and they well mock’d depart away with shame.” (IX, 1591-1594) The princess means that she wants to mock the men for trying to play a trick on the women and because of this mockery they will feel ashamed. Therefore, this embarrassment will empower the women and allow them to force the men to fulfill their oath of not seeing women for another year before they may consider taking their hand in marriage.

Depiction of the King of Navarre, with his three lords, Dumaine, Longaville, and Berowne visiting the Princess of France and her three companions, Rosaline, Maria, and Katherine.

Shakespeare used his writing as a vehicle for discussing societal issues, often presenting two sides of an argument and allowing his audience to conclude their own opinion about the issue he is presenting. That is why this play fits in as a Brechtian styled learning play, or a play that forces the audience to think about what is happening and learn from it, rather than being a standard play strictly for entertainment purposes. Furthermore, Shakespeare believes love is rather complicated and it drives people to do crazy things, such as when Armado falls in love with Jaquenetta and is ready to fight Costard during the Nine Worthies play within this play. Love is a multifaceted force, that no one may truly understand, but through the works of some of the greatest authors in history they have helped society come to form an understanding about the power of love. One could even say that a resulting effect of these authors expressing their opinion on love, is that every other conclusion one could come to about love will be uncovered as each reader or audience member to this play will have a different understanding of what love is.