The Significance of Love

Author: Michael Reilly

In Love Labour’s Lost, lines 1113-1251, a central piece to understand is the importance of love in the characters’ lives. While they make a pact to swear off the pursuit of love, the need for love in their love is revealed over the course of the play, in both translations, especially through the words of Berowne. In lines 1140-1162, the hardship and suffering of Berowne’s need for love is shown through the exposure of his letter. In both translations of the play, there is great significance in lines 1140-1162 concerning Berowne’s love that lies within him. It is important to know that Berowne’s letter professing his love is revealed to the King, and as a result he rages about the purpose that love gives him in his life. While Berowne is the single character that deeply explains the importance of love that is pivotal to the theme of the play, other characters, such as the King, also feel similarly, as shown later in the play.

In the verse text and The New Penguin edition, there are not many distinct differences in the words of Berowne’s outburst. Further, the differences that are present in both texts contribute to the overall message that this passage is to represent. Both emphasize the that without love, Berowne feels pain and emptiness in his life. Berowne, in both translations, criticizes the King for transforming into a “gnat.” While gnat is defined as a ”bug”, it is also seen as a person of little significance (Oxford English Dictionary). He then mentions other people, such as Hercules, Solomon, Nestor, and Timon, as characters performing joyous actions, thus differing from the Kings life of unhappiness because of his hidden love. Also, in the verse translation it writes “You found his Mote, the King your Mote did see” and the other says “You found his Moth, the King your Moth did see” (Oxford English Dictionary). A moth is defined as “an insect or maggot”, while a mote is “a particle of dust” (Oxford English Dictionary). The importance of these two translations is that they are mainly synonymous. A large part of Berowne’s rant is attacking the King for being a coward by not revealing the love that he possesses, but instead being a hypocrite in reprimanding Berowne. Berowne stresses that the King should be respected less, as shown through the little significance that bugs and particles of dust hold.