Play Commentary
             MOTTO: Know you not that I must be about my mother's business

  •       Each commentary applies the Sonnet philosophy
          to the plays and poems of Shakespeare
          to reveal their inherent meaning.

    The Institute for the Quaternary Evolution in Shakespearen Thought
    The Quaternary Institute
        Quaternary Institute & Quaternary Imprint



    The first edition of the 4 volume set William Shakespeare's Sonnet Philosophy [2005] is still available.

    Love's Labour's Lost

    Roger Peters Copyright © 2005

    Nature Template <i>Sonnet</i> Numbers

    Nature template (Sonnet numbers)

    So far, in this presentation of the philosophy in Shakespeare’s poems and plays the examination of the two long poems shows they were formative essays for the definitive philosophy presented later in the Sonnets of 1609. There is a striking consistency between the content of the long poems, written early in his career as a dramatist, and the 1609 Sonnets.
          In the two long poems, Shakespeare took the opportunity provided by the plague around 1593 to trial an expression of the philosophy behind the plays of 1590-2. When the theatres reopened, he returned to writing plays for the Chamberlain’s Men and wrote no other poems the length of Venus and Adonis (1194 lines) and Lucrece (1855 lines). The only other published poems aside from the Sonnets were the much shorter The Phoenix and the Turtle (67 lines) of 1601, and A Lover’s Complaint (329 lines), which was included with the Sonnets. Even though they were much shorter than the poems of the early 1590s, the commentaries in this volume show both the later poems are based on the Sonnet philosophy.
          As there were a number of sonnet sequences published in the early to mid-1590s, it is reasonable to suggest Shakespeare thought of writing his philosophy out in a dedicated set of sonnets around that time. But, because he recommitted to writing plays for the theatre, the Sonnet project was not completed until 1609. So it seems likely he decided to trial the philosophy in a purpose-made play. His practice up to that time and after was to adapt a source play or story to his philosophic ends, but his experience with exploring the philosophy in the long poems could easily have inspired him to base the philosophy in a play of his own devising.
          The only play of the period with no known source is Love’s Labour’s Lost. It was first published as a quarto edition in 1598, and was the first play published under Shakespeare’s name. Because it was ‘newly corrected and augmented’ for the 1598 edition, it was probably written between 1595 and 1597. So it is ideally placed to be a play in which Shakespeare further experimented with an expression of his philosophy, but in this case within the constraints of drama for entertainment.
          The expression of the philosophy in Love’s Labour’s Lost provides an insight into the state of development of Shakespeare’s philosophy in the mid- 1590s, and also provides a lesson on the difficulties of writing a play to express a philosophy of deep logic with its devastating critique of traditional thought. Shakespeare was not to repeat the experiment in a play even though he continued to use the philosophy to create plays to unprecedented effect. His decision to articulate the philosophy in a set of sonnets freed the plays to develop their dramatic intensity and theatrical effect.
          The uniqueness of Love’s Labour’s Lost in Shakespeare’s oeuvre, because of its undramatic storyline and because of the intensity of the wordplay, led to a performance history in which it was ignored for 200 years. Pedantic critics such as Samuel Johnson took advantage of its difficulty to exercise their prudery and Christian intolerance. It was performed infrequently in the nineteenth century and occasionally in the early twentieth century until in the mid-twentieth century it was given a number of performances. Features that had previously alienated critics and editors now captured the interest of a twentieth-century audience. Commentators have attributed its recent popularity to the influence of authors such as James Joyce and to a society less constrained by the inadequate doctrines of the Churches and the prejudices of male-based politics.
          Love’s Labour’s Lost is the third work for consideration in this volume because it was most likely written specifically after the two long poems to express the philosophy. No commentator has written a study of the play that is able to account for the logical relation between the four Lords of Navarre and the four Ladies of the French court, who make a mockery of the idealistic pretensions of their male counterparts. As even Joyce had a simplistic understanding of Shake-speares Sonnets, it is not surprising there has been no appreciation of the play’s philosophic content.
          Love’s Labour’s Lost appeared once in a quarto edition during Shakespeare’s lifetime and then in the 1623 Folio. Because there are differences between the two editions, when the distinctions are critical the quarto is referred here to as Q and the Folio as F.

    Analysis of Love's Labour's Lost

          The Sonnet philosophy establishes the priority of nature over mindcreated entities such as the Christian God, and establishes the priority of the female over the male. It is not surprising then, that Love’s Labour’s Lost begins with an avowal of the basic conceits of male-based beliefs by a male King. Ferdinand, the King of Navarre, attempts to convince his friends to withdraw from everyday life to benefit from uninterrupted study. Shakespeare begins by parodying the conceits of celibacy and monastic withdrawal.

    Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
    Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
    And then grace us in the disgrace of death:
    When spite of cormorant devouring Time,
    Th’endeavour of this present breath may buy:
    That honour which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge,
    And make us heirs of all eternity. (1.1.5-11)

          Ferdinand’s desire for eternal ‘fame’ (‘fame’ is the first noun in the first line) turns to eternal infamy by the end of the play. His hope that monastic ‘endeavours’ will give ‘grace’ to counter the ‘disgrace of death’ is an offence to natural logic. His desire to cheat ‘Time’ with ‘honour’ by spurning the logic of nature that requires humankind to increase, will ironically make him and his Lords ‘heirs’ to their own prejudices.
          In the first few lines, Shakespeare parodies the expectation of an afterlife of eternal happiness with the Judeo/Christian God. In the Sonnet philosophy the logical way to eternity for human beings is through increase, and the way to appreciate the logic of increase is to accept the priority of the female over the male. The priority of nature and increase over human understanding forms the logical backbone for the play.
          The King identifies the Lords’ ‘own affections’ and the ‘world’s desires’ as the enemies of his monastic crusade. To establish the ‘academe’ the Lords swear ‘deep oaths’ that they will remain for three years ‘still and contemplative in living art’. The opening passage recalls the contradictory expectations held by the idealistic adolescent Adonis in Venus and Adonis, and the proud and possessive Collatine and Tarquin in Lucrece.
          Throughout the Mistress sonnets that examine the logic of truth (sonnets 137 to 152), the nature of swearing and breaking oaths receives close attention. The ‘perjured eye’ (152.13) is the ‘eye’ that is forsworn from the sexual eye of increase and so from nature. Shakespeare reveals the idealistic conceit in Ferdinand’s programme by having him claim that the still and contemplative life would produce a ‘living art’.
          Longaville and Dumaine, as faithful Lords to the King, second his idealistic expectations. Through their responses Shakespeare identifies the crux of the philosophical contradiction he addresses in the course of the play. Longaville expresses the illogical relation between the ‘mind’ and the ‘body’ on which traditional logic is based.

    The mind shall banquet, though the body pine. (1.1.29)

          And Dumaine, who avows to ‘die’ rather than ‘love’, believes he does so,

    With all these living in Philosophy. (1.1.36)

          The King and his two dutiful Lords believe that by entering the monastic life they can assert the priority of the mind over the body to create a ‘living Philosophy’. Shakespeare could hardly be clearer in identifying the target of his attack. He wants to correct the central ‘problem’ of traditional philosophy, the ‘mind/body’ problem, and demonstrate that a living philosophy is one that respects the natural logic of life. The ‘Philosophy’ proposed by the Lords, in conformity with biblical-based apologetics, is the deathly idealistic rhetoric of the Academy of Plato and the fathers of the Church.
          Shakespeare gives the fourth Lord, Berowne, the role of identifying the inconsistencies in his colleagues’ conceits. Unlike the others he speaks as a male in touch with his female side. For the purposes of the play he is not sufficiently aware of Shakespeare’s ruling logic to articulate precisely the nature of the contradictions. That role is given to the four Ladies of France and their male companion Boyet.
          Berowne objects to the King’s provision that they not ‘see a woman in the term’ of their ‘strict observances’. Alluding to the increase argument of the Sonnets, he argues that ‘not to see Ladies’ is a ‘barren task’. He asks, ‘what is the end of study?’To which the King responds that it is to ‘know’what otherwise would not be known. Berowne tests the King by asking if he means,

    Things hid and barred (you mean) from common sense. (1.1.62)

          To which the King replies.

    Ay, that is study’s god-like recompense. (1.1.63)

          The two lines define the difference between Shakespeare’s natural philosophy, which moves from common sense to a consistent understanding of truth and beauty, and traditional philosophical apologetics, which begins with god-like claims and ends in contradiction with common sense.
          In a speech in which he agrees to study with the King, Berowne parodies the vain expectations of the Lords. He will study to ‘dine’ where he is forbidden to ‘feast’ or, more significantly,

    study where to meet some Mistress fine
    Where Mistresses from common sense are hid. (1.1.68-9)

          He will willingly join an academy if a finer Mistress than the Mistresses of common sense could be produced. He taunts the King to produce an idealised woman, (such as the Virgin Mary), who would more than compensate for the absence of the Mistresses from everyday life. ‘Mistress’ is the form of address Shakespeare uses exclusively for the female in the Sonnets. In both the play and the Sonnets, the word Mistress is capitalised. In the Sonnets, because the Mistress is the repository of common sense prior to any form of idealised female, the idealised female is a consequence of adolescent male fantasy.
          The King, as a blinded ideologue, misses the irony when he agrees with Berowne’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion.

    These be the stops that hinder study quite,
    And train our intellects to vain delight. (1.1.75-6)

          Berowne takes the King’s at his unintentional pun on ‘vain’ and plays upon the vanity of the Lords.

    Why? All delights are vain, and that most vain
    Which with pain purchased, doth inherit pain,
    As painfully to pore upon a Book,
    To seek the light of truth, while truth the while
    Doth falsely blind the eye-sight of his look: (1.1.77-81)

          In the Sonnets, truth is the dynamic of language in which there is a continual jar between right and wrong. In sonnet 66, Shakespeare distinguishes the logical use of the word ‘truth’ from the idealistic ‘simple-Truth miscalled simplicity’ (66.11). Berowne makes the same point. To study expecting to find an ultimate truth is contradictory because truth is a dynamic between the true and the false. Only sensations can be singular (or ‘beauty’ as sensations are called in the Sonnets).
          If the Lords expect to ‘seek the light of truth’ in a ‘Book’, then the ‘truth’ they seek will ‘blind their eyesight’ from the understanding of life because they misrepresent both truth and beauty. If ‘light seeks light’ or sensation seeks sensation, sensation will ‘beguile’ sensation because sensations alone do not provide understanding. (Samuel Johnson, viewing Shakespeare’s works from the disadvantage of his Christian paradigm, despised this line.)
          Berowne then introduces the logical function of the ‘eyes’. The Sonnets have been completely misunderstood for 400 years partly because the role of the eyes expressed in sonnet 14 has not been appreciated. Yet, Berowne gives voice to the dynamic in the first scene of the first act of the play.

    Light seeking light, doth light of light beguile:
    So ere you find where light in darkness lies,
    Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.
    Study me how to please the eye indeed,
    By fixing it upon a fairer eye
    Who dazzling so, that eye should be his heed,
    And give him light that it was blinded by. (1.1.82-8)

          In the Sonnets, it is from the eyes of the youth that the Poet derives truth and beauty. By ignoring the logic of the eyes, the King and his colleagues lose their eyes or the principal organs of sensation and discrimination. If Berowne is to study to please the eye, then he will ‘fix it upon a fairer eye’, or the sexual eye, because only that eye can be his ‘heed’ to ‘give him light’. If he was to study with the Lords, he could not search deeply with ‘saucy looks’ because he would be blinded by the glory of the sun, or their overidealised conceits.

    Study is like the heaven’s glorious Sun,
    That will not be deep searched with saucy looks:
    Small have continual plodders ever won,
    Save base authority from others Books.
    These earthly Godfathers of heaven’s lights,
    That give a name to every fixed Star,
    Have no more profit of their shining nights,
    Than those that walk and wot not what they are.
    Too much to know, is to know nought but fame:
    And every Godfather can give a name. (1.1.89-98)

          Book learning can only give ‘authority’ to others books (in a poke at the Academy) and these ‘earthly Godfathers’, who would be ‘Godfather’s’ to God or ‘heaven’s light’, are like astrologers who name the stars in the Zodiac. It is as meaningful to name stars as it is to give God a name, as such naming without content is meaningless. (Sonnet 14 rejects the influence of heavenly ‘stars’.)
          The King, Dumaine and Longaville then give one line responses which typify the misunderstanding Shakespeare’s works have been subjected to over the last 400 years. They disparage Berowne’s ‘reading’, his ‘proceeding’ or method, and miss the point of his argument.
          Berowne responds with a witty rejoinder which points to the increase argument out of nature as the basis of Shakespeare’s logic.

    The Spring is near when green geese are a
    breeding. (1.1.103-4)

          Because Dumaine cannot follow Berowne’s metaphorical ‘reasoning’, Berowne assures him that his ideas are contained in his ‘rhyme’ or poetry. This is consistent with Shakespeare’s decision to present his philosophy in a set of sonnets. He used the capacity of a sonnet to convey argument and simultaneously evoke the underlying common sense of its logic in ‘rhyme’.
          When the King accuses Berowne of bad faith toward his idea of a retreat, he does so by using a metaphor that ironically describes the logical outcome with his own idealistic expectations.

    Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost
    That bites the first-born infants of the Spring. (1.1.109-10)

          Berowne turns the attack back on the King by correctly interpreting the first-born infant as Christ, and identifying the King’s illogical expectation of the inverted naturalism of biblical mythology.

    Well, say I am, why should proud Summer boast,
    Before the Birds have any cause to sing?
    Why should I joy in any abortive birth?
    At Christmas I no more desire a Rose
    Than wish a Snow in May’s new-fangled shows;
    But like of each thing that in season grows.
    So you to study now it is too late,
    That were to climb o’er the house to unlock the gate. (1.1.111-18)

          Immediately after he says he takes no joy in an ‘abortive birth’, Berowne refers to Christ’s unnatural or erotic birth at Christmas. Berowne prefers to accept the ‘common sense’ of the natural order rather than study for three years hoping to subvert it with ‘god-like’ fantasies. He compares the King’s programme to the conceit of climbing over a ‘house’ to ‘unlock the gate’ to gain access to the house.
          Despite his misgivings, and even though his objections are dismissed by the King as ‘barbarism’, Berowne is prepared to entertain the King’s pious expectations or ‘Angel knowledge’by honouring his oath. The King confidently passes judgment.

    How well this yielding rescues thee from shame. (1.1.127)

          But, when Berowne reads the first item of the agreement, he questions the barbarity of the penalty to be inflicted on women who stray near the court during the retreat. Longaville says the penalty of the loss of a ‘tongue’ is to ‘frighten them hence’ with a ‘dangerous law’ that protects the Lords ‘gentility’. Ironically, the terms of the agreement are more ‘barbarous’ than Berowne’s ‘shameful’ challenge to the futility of the King’s pretensions.
          (The editors change the stage directions to give Berowne some of Longaville’s lines. Berowne is shifted from line 143 to line 138. The editors miss the irony in the erotic pun between the women losing their ‘tongues’ and the Lords losing their ‘genitals’. Shakespeare’s devastating critique of the preposterousness of idealist expectations, especially those held by such Kings and Lords, is blunted by the editors’ unnecessary interference.)
          When Longaville reads the next ‘item’, Berowne interjects that the vow not to talk to any woman will be broken by the King himself when the French King’s daughter arrives presently.
          The King is put out because he has forgotten the imminent arrival of the ladies from France.

    What say you Lords?
    Why, this was quite forgot. (1.1.151-2)

          Berowne responds by invoking the title of the play.

    So Study evermore is overshot.
    While it doth study to have what it would,
    It doth forget to do the thing it should:
    And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,
    ’Tis won as towns with fire, so won, so lost. (1.1.153-7)

          Berowne’s objection is not to the idea of ‘study’, but to the impossible conditions and expectations imposed by the King and his Lords. If the four males retire with ‘god-like’ aims separated from women by violent decrees, the barbarism they seek to rise above will logically return as their just recompense. In their ardour for misogynistic study they will burn down the ‘town’ they hope to ‘win’. Because of the illogicality of their expectations, the ‘loves’ they hope to cultivate through the fruit of their ‘labour’ will be ‘lost’ before they begin. Or, as Berowne quips, men without women are ‘lost’.
          Shakespeare’s critique of the contradictions in all idealistic programmes is a principal theme running through his poems and plays. The Sonnets articulate the philosophy that provides the logical basis for a consistent attitude to life. As Love’s Labour’s Lost is a play of his own invention, it is not surprising to find such an uncompromising expression of the Sonnet logic.
          The King calls the decision to dispense with the oath not to see women, a ‘mere necessity’. Berowne counters that they would be ‘forsworn three thousand times within three years’ if they responded to every such ‘necessity’.

    Necessity will make us all forsworn
    Three thousand times within this three year’s space:
    For every man with his affects is born,
    Not by might mast’red, but by special grace.
    If I break faith, this word shall break for me,
    I am forsworn on mere necessity:
    So to the Laws at large I write my name,
    And he that breaks them in the least degree,
    Stands in attainder of eternal shame. (1.1.160-8)

          As every man is born with his ‘affects’ or passions, it takes more than denial to master them. It takes a ‘special grace’or appreciation of natural logic. If Berowne breaks his ‘faith’because of mere necessity, then the word faith has no meaning. So he will write his name instead to the ‘Laws at large’ or the Laws of Nature and if he breaks those laws he deserves ‘eternal shame’. The ‘shame’ the King ‘rescued’ Berowne from previously for not wishing to ‘study’ is thrown back at the King as the ‘shame’ that denies the logic of passions in nature. Berowne expresses his ‘belief ’ that he will be the last to break the oath.
          When Berowne asks the King to describe the entertainment they will have while in confinement, the King’s description of the Spaniard Armado provides another level of parody. If Berowne has insights into natural law not apparent to the King, the King and the Lords only have insights into a character who like themselves is ignorant of his natural logic. But their insight is possible only because Armado portrays their failings in an exaggerated manner.
          The play functions on at least three levels. Most obvious and of greatest dramatic effect are the exchanges between the common characters, but the humour of their interactions would be lost if they did not have the King and Lords to parody. Berowne straddles the gap between the lower and upper classes but it takes the arrival of the Ladies of France to introduce a level above the males of the court. Unlike the common characters, their understanding is not naïve, and unlike the Lords they are not blinded by adolescent pretensions and inadequacies. The different levels are given exact logical expression in the Sonnets in the distinction between the Master Mistress, the Poet and the Mistress.
          In his description of Armado the King paints a caricature of himself.

    A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
    That hath a mint of phrases in his brain:
    One, who the music of his own vain tongue,
    Doth ravish like enchanting harmony:
    A man of complements whom right and wrong
    Have chose as umpire of their mutiny
    This child of fancy…(1.1.175-81)

          The King’s book learning, his vanity, his inability to determine right from wrong, and the adolescence of his fanciful expectations are all characteristics of the Master Mistress whom the Poet takes to task in the Sonnets as he addresses his adolescent immaturity before the Mistress. Armado, like all the fools in Shakespeare and characters in other comic parts, is a reminder of the inadequacies of the major characters who by their effusive intensity ironically provide a rustic or naïve expression of common sense or the Laws of nature.
          When Dull the constable and Costard the clown approach the Lords, who are under oath to their ‘god-like’ purpose, the name of God is appropriately used as a form of a common oath. Berowne’s ‘I hope in God for fine words’, Longaville’s ‘God grant us patience’, and Costard’s ‘God defend the right’, and then Armado’s ‘my soul’s earth’s God’ as an address to the King, all make a mock of the Kings pretensions. Armado’s letter, in its exaggerated formality and pedantry, mocks the bookish learning of the Lords.
          The exchange between the King and Costard, which includes the reading of Armado’s letter in which he says Costard was seen with Jaquenetta, is an elaborate parody on the inadequacy of those in denial of nature. Berowne summarises the situation.

    I’ll lay my head to any good man’s hat,
    These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn. (1.1.303-4)

          The ‘laws’ are the King’s laws mentioned by Armado in his letter. Costard concludes the scene by accusing the King of not understanding the nature of ‘truth’. Truth is not the resolution contained in an oath or law of court, but the ability to determine true and false in the course of natural events. Costard’s assessment of his liaison with Jaquenetta is shown to be ‘true’.

    I suffer for the truth, sir: for true it is, I was taken
    with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true girl, and
    therefore welcome the sour cup of prosperity, affliction
    may one day smile again, and until then sit down
    sorrow. (1.1.306-10)

          The exchange between Armado and Moth (his page) at the opening of the second scene is a theological lesson in good humour. A man of ‘great spirit’ can only ‘grow melancholy’ when his high spirits are deflated. Armado calls Moth a ‘tender Juvenal’ and Moth calls Armado a ‘tough signior’ to distinguish the adolescent phase of understanding from the mature. They dismiss the ‘love’ of the ‘cross’.

    Armado. I love not to be crossed.
    Moth. He speaks the mere contrary, crosses love not him. (1.2.343-4)

          And then for a few lines after Moth’s suggestion they play with the trinity.

    ‘How many is one thrice told’ (1.2.348)

          They conclude that a even ‘dancing horse’, or a horse that can tap out numbers, can ‘tell’ how to relate one, two and three, or the persons of the trinity.
          Armado confesses he is in love, and in an elaborate argument they decide ‘green is the colour of lovers’. But when Armado insists his love is ‘most immaculate white and red’, he affects a love for the Virgin Mary. But Moth warns that ‘maculate’ or impure thoughts are ‘masked under such colours’. When asked by Armado to ‘define, define’ he invokes the increase argument.

    My father’s wit, and my mother’s tongue assist me. (1.2.399-400)

          To which Armado intuitively responds.

    Sweet invocation of a child, most pretty and
    pathetical. (1.2.401-2)

          Moth’s poem then capitalises on the erotic suggestivity of wit and tongue, with the erotic play on cheeks.

    If she be made of white and red,
    Her faults will ne’er be known:
    For blush-in cheeks by faults are bred,
    And fears by pale white shown:
    Then if she fear, or be to blame,
    By this you shall not know,
    For still her cheeks possess the same,
    Which native she doth owe.
    A dangerous rime master against the reason of white
    and red
    . (1.2.403-12)

          Moth is aware of the ‘dangerous’ relation between the objects of reason, such as the immaculate red and white, and the erotic puns on wit, tongue, ‘blush-in’ and cheeks, that give Jaquenetta her ‘native’ or natural charm. Armado finds himself compromised between punishing Costard for loving the ‘Country girl’ (read cunt), and his own love for the girl.
          Then when he sees Jaquenetta, Armado ‘betrays himself with blushing’ or sexual excitement. And Jaquenetta is not too reluctant. Armado anticipates the duplicity of the Lords when, at the departure of Jaquenetta, he takes relish in his task of punishing Costard. He soliloquises his duplicity in a passage where Shakespeare shows the close relation between over-formal and over-corrupt grammar and idealistic self-deception, which is the ‘base’ condition of the King and his Lords.

    I do affect the very ground (which is base)
    where her shoe (which is baser) guided by her foot
    (which is basest) doth tread. I shall be forsworn (which
    is a great argument of falsehood) if I love. And how can
    that be true love, which is falsely attempted
    ? Love is a
    familiar; Love is a Devil. There is no evil Angel but Love

    Cupid’s Butt-shaft is too hard for
    Hercule’s Club… (1.2.470-9)

          The characterisation of love as ‘base’ that logically becomes an ‘evil Angel’ anticipates Shakespeare’s presentation of the logic of beauty or sensations in the Mistress sonnets. Sonnet 130 considers all the senses, and sonnet 144 considers the unnatural love of the idealist that requires a ‘bad angel” to affect a remedy.
          As if anticipating Shakespeare’s decision to present his philosophy in a set of sonnets, Armado extemporises.

    Assist me some extemporal god of Rime, for I am sure I
    shall turn Sonnet. Devise Wit, write Pen, for I am for
    whole volumes in folio. (1.2.485-7)

          Boyet, advisor to the French Princess, opens Act 2 with a description of the ‘perfections’ of the ‘matchless Navarre’. The role of the women in the play is then made clear with Boyet’s attribution of the Princess’ ‘graces’ to ‘Nature’. Shakespeare gives Boyet an insight comparable to the Poet of the Sonnets. Boyet and Berowne acknowledge their common insights, though Boyet has the advantage of being a minister to the Princess and her Ladies who do not suffer from the conceit of idealistic expectations.
          The Princess’ first words align her beauty with the judgment of the eyes, expressed definitively in sonnet 14, and compared with ‘painted beauty’ in sonnets 20/21. With her puns on ‘eye’ and ‘tongues’, she uses the erotic logic of language.

    Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,
    Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:
    Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye,
    Not utt’red by base sale of chapmen’s tongues: (2.1.504-7)

          She continues in the same vein by poking erotic fun at the King’s biblical ‘forbidden gates’ and his ‘high will’. And in response to Boyet she quips. ‘All pride is willing pride, and yours is so’.
          Then the Ladies, recalling their previous encounters with the Lords, pass judgment on them. Maria says Longaville ‘is a sharp wit matched with too blunt a Will’. The Princess agrees that ‘such short-lived wits do wither as they grow’. Through their erotic banter Shakespeare expresses Dumaine’s ignorance of the sexual logic central to the Sonnet philosophy. Dumaine is a well-accomplished youth whose virtue, consistent with Berowne’s critique, leads him to do ‘harm’.

    Of all that Virtue love, for Virtue loved.
    Most power to do most harm, least knowing ill:’ (2.1.549-50)

          For her part, Rosaline recognises that Berowne’s ‘eye’ is connected to his ‘wit’, though he is not so mature that ‘aged ears play truant at his tales’. Instead he attracts ‘younger hearings’. The Princess ends the examination by facetiously asking ‘God’s’ blessing on her Ladies, who have fallen in love with such idealistically adolescent men.
          The King, fresh from his ‘barbarous’ oath, disingenuously welcomes the Princess to the court of Navarre. The Princess, though, throws the welcome ‘back again’ so recognising the adolescent deceit to which she is being subject. When he explains, ‘dear Lady, I have sworn an oath’ she, as did Berowne to the King’s comment about the ‘first-born’, plays his part back at him with interest, by evoking the Virgin Mary.

    Our Lady help my Lord! he’ll be forsworn. (2.1.593)

          The King continues to fall over his sexual puns.

    Not for the world fair Madam, by my will. (2.1.594)

          But the Princess cuts him short.

    Why, will shall break it will, and nothing else. (2.1.595)

          He protests her ‘ignorance’ of his ‘will’, but she knows too well his ‘ignorance’ of his own ‘will’.

    Were my Lord so, his ignorance were wise,
    Where now his knowledge must prove ignorance.
    I hear your grace hath sworn out Housekeeping:
    ‘Tis deadly sin to keep that oath, my Lord,
    And sin to break it: (2.1.597-601)

          The Princess can see the King’s double ‘sin’. He sins once, because he turns his back on nature and the human dynamic behind truth and beauty, and again because breaking his oath is a ‘sin’ against the ‘Lord’, for whom the King stands proxy in the play.
          While the King reads the letter from the King of France, Berowne and Rosaline/Katherine (Katherine in Q and Rosaline in F), presaging the erotic exchanges to come, have a ‘hot’ exchange of wits. As she is masked and Berowne leaves the stage unsure as to whom he has spoken, and as Boyet reveals his interest in Rosaline later in the scene and later in the play, Rosaline seems appropriate for the part. But because the attribution can be to Boyet (F) or Berowne (Q), either possibility has its complications for the audience.In this case, as with all the differences between Q and F, the faults do not affect the ability of Shakespeare's Sonnet philosophy to reveal the nature-based content of the play.
          When the King challenges the Princess about the terms of payment itemised in her father’s letter, she accuses him of ‘wronging’ both her father and himself. If, as the King claims, Aquitaine is ‘gelded’by the non-payment of half the sum, the irony is that not only did the King forget the imminent arrival of the Princess and her Ladies, he has also forgotten that Aquitaine has already made the payment. His distracted focus on the academy of fools has ‘gelded’ him from common sense and everyday responsibilities.
          Then, when the King announces that the Princess is to be kept outside his ‘gates’, he confirms Berowne’s concern about the futility of an all-male retreat. The King’s castle or ‘house’, over which Berowne accuses him of wanting to climb to unlock the gate, is now symbolically closed to the women who hold the key to his dilemma, doubly isolating ‘common sense’ from his ‘god-like’ programme.
          Boyet then has an exchange with Rosaline. As indicated above, the part could be Berowne’s if the exchange between Boyet and Rosaline is not seen as evidence of Boyet’s jealousy toward Rosaline. The reassignment of the part ignores the fact that Boyet is ready to respond to Dumaine in the next two lines. It also misses the cue, from Berowne’s exchange with Rosaline, that the Ladies are masked. When Dumaine and Longaville question Boyet as to the identities of the Ladies, they do so despite having met them before.
          When Dumaine asks Boyet for the name of Katherine (masked), Boyet makes a Freudian slip by claiming she is Rosaline. As both Q and F have Rosaline, there is no need to amend the name to Katherine. The prank by Boyet is a further confirmation of his interest in Rosaline. Boyet continues his pranks as he tells Longaville that the lady he sees is the ‘heir of Falconbridge’.
          Berowne re-enters (having departed after his exchange with Katherine/Rosaline) and asks Boyet for the identity of the woman in the ‘cap’, to which Boyet replies ‘Katherine’ (in Q and F), sustaining his intent to deceive Berowne regarding Rosaline.
          Maria congratulates Boyet for taking Berowne ‘at his word’ and Boyet admits that he was as ‘willing to grapple’ with Berowne as Berowne was willing to ‘board’ Rosaline. Maria (F) or Katherine (Q) continues the banter with Boyet, they reuse the pun on ‘sheeps’ and ‘ships’Shakespeare developed previously in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Comedy of Errors to point up the argumentative basis of his characterisation and the logical relation between argument and the sexual dynamic expressed in the erotic by-play.
          Boyet responds to the Princess’s suggestion that they use their ‘civil war of wits’ on ‘Navarre and his book-men’by demonstrating his role in the play as the male voice of the wiser females. He reiterates the logic of sonnet 14 that ‘the heart’s still rhetoric (is) disclosed with eyes’. The sexual banter equating ‘lips’ and ‘fortunes’ is at the heart of Shakespeare’s insight into the relation between female and male. Echoing the interplay between eye, heart and mind from sonnets 46 and 47 Boyet equates Navarre’s ‘eye’, ‘heart’, ‘pride’, ‘tongue’ and the ‘senses’ to convey the way in which Navarre has assimilated the image of the Princess within his heart.
          With a sexual pun of her own, the Princess says ‘come to our pavilion’. She acknowledges that Boyet has ‘disposed’ the situation correctly. So, pleased with himself, Boyet summarises his insight into the logic expressed in the Sonnets.

    I only have made a mouth of his eye,
    By adding a tongue, which I know will not lie. (2.1.756-7)

          Shakespeare’s logic is incontrovertible because it correctly expresses the natural logic of life. The Ladies (whose names are mixed in Q and F) add their congratulations to his eloquence that speaks no lie, mentioning Cupid (who appears in sonnets 153 and 154) and Venus who, as the female prototype for the sovereign mistress or Nature in the Sonnets (sonnet 126), articulated Shakespeare’s philosophy in Venus and Adonis. Boyet has the last word, turning the erotic game back on the Ladies, ‘you are too hard for me’.
          Armado’s request to Moth that he ‘make passionate my sense of hearing’, summarises Shakespeare’s appreciation of the logical interrelation between the words of language and the sexual dynamic. This is expressed succinctly in sonnet 14 where the priority of increase over truth and beauty is the logical precondition for the possibility of hearing anything with passion. The logic of language is based in the sexual dynamic but, because it is derived from the sexual dynamic, it is constitutionally erotic.
          The interchange between Armado and Moth is a cascade of erotic puns, pointing to the failure of the King and his two loyal Lords to appreciate the nature of language and hence the fallacy of locking themselves away from the logical source of truth and beauty, women. The role of the secondary characters in the play demonstrates through their natural effusiveness the linguistic excitement of language, and critiques through parody the pedantic pretensions of the King and his men. Although Berowne is aware of King’s conceit, he falls between the two, so his language does not have the erotic incisiveness of the Princess and her Ladies.
          Armado’s direction to Moth to ‘give enlargement to the swain’ is answered by Moth’s question as to whether Armado will win his ‘love with a French brawl’, or by ‘brawling in French’, as Armado suggests. The idea of language as an erotic engagement is evident in Moth’s invitation ‘to jig off a tune at the tongue’s end’, to ‘humour it with turning up your eyelids’, and to ‘swallow love with singing’. These and other suggestions ‘betray nice wenches that would be betrayed without these’. Through characters such as Moth, Shakespeare demonstrates that everyday language is based in the sexual/erotic dynamic of natural logic.
          In the plays Shakespeare’s uses interludes of mock argument to parody conventional argument, just as mock theatric interludes in the plays parody inferior drama. So it is not surprising to find Armado and Moth assigned to the role of parodying the King’s arguments for an idealistic academy. (Shakespeare’s use of character parts in the plays as argument places for his philosophy was considered in Volume 1.)
          Moth has ‘purchased his experience’ by his ‘pen of observation’ or his penis, for which Armado provides two naughts, ‘but O, but O’, invoking the female sexual organ.

    Moth. Negligent student, learn her by heart.
    Armado. By heart, and in heart Boy.
    Moth. And out of heart Master: all those three I will
    Armado. What wilt thou prove?
    Moth. A man, if I live (and this) by, in, and without, Upon
    the instant: by heart you love her, because your heart
    cannot come by her: in heart you love her, because your
    heart is in love with her: out of heart you love her,
    being out of heart that you cannot enjoy her.
    Armado. I am all these three.
    Moth. And three times as much more, and yet nothing at all. (3.1.804-15)

          Armado ‘learns her by heart’ so that he will prove that 3 times 3 is 9, which comes to ‘nothing at all’, because he remains alone or ‘cannot enjoy her’. In the Sonnets, the youth’s number 9 indicates that he lacks the 1 that the Mistress provides for maturity of understanding. The ‘three’ of the Trinity is three times short of ‘nothing’, being nothing without the addition of the 1 of the female.
          Not only does Moth prove ‘nothing’, in the next exchange he mocks the use of empty rhetoric by the idealistic King.

    Armado. Fetch hither the Swain, he must carry me a
    Moth. A message well sympathised, a Horse to be
    ambassador for an Ass
    Armado. Ha, ha, What sayest thou?
    Moth. Marry sir, you must send the Ass upon the Horse
    for he is slow gaited
    : but I go.
    Armado. The way is but short, away.
    Moth. As swift as Lead, sir.
    Armado. The meaning pretty ingenious, is not Lead a
    metal heavy, dull, and slow?
    Moth. Minime honest Master, or rather Master no.
    Armado. I say Lead is slow.
    Moth. You are too swift sir to say so.
    Is that lead slow which is fired from a Gun?
    Armado. Sweet smoke of Rhetoric
    He reputes me a Cannon, and the Bullet that’s he:
    I shoot thee at the Swain.
    Moth. Thump then, and I flee. (3.1.817-35)

          When Moth returns with Costard, Shakespeare presents an ‘epilogue or discourse’ between the illiterates that compares their capacity to mishear or misinterpret the meaning of words with the King’s misapprehension of words such as ‘study’, ‘common sense’, ‘death’, ‘time’ and ‘eternity’. Armado’s purpose is to ‘make plain some obscure precedence that hath to fore been sain’. The ditty he recites parodies the Trinity.

    The fox, the Ape, and the Humble-bee,
    Were still at odds, being but three. (3.1.859-60)
          To which Moth adds ‘the l’envoy’.

    Until the Goose came out of door,
    And stayed the odds by adding four. (3.1.861-2)

          The trinity is not complete until the female (the Virgin Mary) is added by taking three and adding one to make four. Armado and Moth again parody the King’s idea of a ‘god-like’ academy of males. Armado reiterates the ‘argument’ that began with a broken head (Costard) and ends with the envoy that restores the balance by adding a fourth.
          Armado welcomes Costard’s request to ‘marry’ a whore (Francis) because it frees Armado to pursue his interest in Jaquenetta.

    Costard. O, marry me to one Francis! I smell some
    l’envoy, some Goose in this.
    Armado. By my sweet soul, I mean setting thee at
    liberty. Enfreedoming thy person: thou wert immured,
    restrained, captivated, bound. (3.1.887-91)

          The ‘sequel’ to Armado, Moth and Costard’s mock argument in Act 3.1 is the demonstration in the remainder of the play of the soundness of their folk logic.
          The first line of Costard’s soliloquy continues the irreverent allusions to Christian dogma already encountered in the play. Shakespeare’s critique of the excesses of idealism in such phrases as the ‘abortive birth’, ‘Our Lady’s’ ‘maculate’ state, and the relation of ‘three’ and ‘four’, does not quite prepare for the characterisation of Christ as an ounce of flesh and as an un-reproductive rabbit.

    My sweet ounce of man’s flesh, my in-conie
    . (3.1.901-2)

          According to Christian dogma, in Christ the ‘word’ was made ‘flesh’. But Shakespeare’s argument in the Sonnets, in Venus and Adonis, in Lucrece, and now in Love’s Labour’s Lost re-establishes the correct logical relationship between the body and the mind by prioritising increase over truth and beauty. Contrary to the increase argument presented specifically in sonnet 14, Christ represents the desire not to increase. So, Christian dogma, which prioritises the ‘word’ over the ‘flesh’, is contrary to natural logic.
          Shakespeare’s characterises Christ as a rabbit (a coney) who acts ‘in-conie’ or un-like the proverbial rabbit. Christ is a ‘Jew’ who does not breed. In Q and F, the word ‘in-conie’ is hyphenated to indicate the function of ‘in’ as a preposition (in- = not, lacking, without) to the word ‘coney’.
          If the above reading is correct, it scandalises Christian orthodoxy. But from the vantage of the consistent natural logic of the Sonnets and the expression of the philosophy in the poems and plays, the phrase makes perfect sense. So it is not surprising that editors, who say they are mystified by the phrase ‘in-conie Jew’, remove the hyphen to create the word ‘incony’. To further remove the potential for the evident meaning they then find an obscure meaning for ‘incony’ as ‘rare’ or ‘fine’. Their discomfort is such that they further obscure the meaning by suggesting that ‘Jew’ is short for jewel or juvenile.
          Costard’s monologue continues to toy with references to Christian dogma.

    Now will I look to his remuneration.
    O, that’s the Latin word for threefarthings:
    Three-farthings – remuneration. What’s the price
    of this inkle? One penny, no, I’ll give you a remuneration:Why?
    It carries its remuneration:Why? It is a fairer name than
    a French Crown. I will never buy and sell out this
    word. (3.1.903-8)

          Costard plays on the word ‘remuneration’ or Armado’s payment to Costard to advance his ‘honour’ against Costard’s natural love for Jaquenetta. He makes a quibble on ‘three’ and ‘one’, and says he would never ‘buy and sell’ this ‘word’. Together the inferences make a sustained parody of Christ’s incarnation as the ‘word’ made ‘flesh’.
          When Berowne enters, Costard confirms Shakespeare’s intent by echoing Moth’s reduction of ‘immaculate’ to ‘maculate’ with the reduction of incarnation to ‘Carnation’.

    Pray you sir, How much Carnation Ribbon
    may a man buy for a remuneration. (3.1.911-2)

          And he facetiously thanks Berowne for his answers.

    I thank your worship, God be wi’ you. (3.1.916)

          When Berowne pays Costard ‘one’ guerdon or shilling to deliver a ‘sealed’ note to Rosaline, Costard expresses satisfaction at the ‘remuneration’. This compares with Armado’s meanness in giving him ‘three-farthings’, which led to the quibble on ‘in-conie Jew’ and the numbers one to three.
          Berowne’s soliloquy on ‘love’ further clarifies his role in the play. He is sufficiently sensitive to the logic of the female/male relationship to appreciate that no learning is possible if men divorce themselves from the company of women. But, as he is not committed to a relationship with a woman, he is fearful of his ignorance of woman’s ways and fearful of losing his independence. Berowne’s equivocation, despite his ability to articulate aspects of Shakespeare’s philosophy, earns him a year of penance at the end of the play along with the other Lords.
          In the Sonnets Shakespeare represents the male as the Master Mistress who needs to be reconciled with the Mistress, and the Poet as the male who has reconciled himself to the Mistress. The Poet, though, is still not completely at ease because the male can never usurp the priority of the female. Just as the Mistress is dependant on Nature (the sovereign mistress), the Poet can always learn more about the depths of female psychology.
          When Berowne sent his love letter to Rosaline, he wished to form a relationship. He now reflects on the implications of making a commitment to a woman. In his criticism of the King and the two Lords he acted as ‘love’s whip’.

    A very Beadle to a humorous sigh. A Critic,
    Nay, night-watch Constable.
    A domineering Pedant o’er the Boy. (3.1.941-3)

          The Boy, or Cupid in his various guises, is more ‘magnificent’ than any ‘mortal’. Berowne is to be a Corporal to Cupid, or to provide the body for Cupid’s sport.
          Berowne’s pedantic conception of a woman returns to haunt him when he considers the full force of his decision ‘to seek a wife’. To him a woman seems like a ‘German clock…ever out of frame’, which confounds the male expectation of order and regularity. She appears as a ‘whitely wanton…with two pitch balls stuck in her face for eyes’. He identifies one of the ‘eyes’ ironically as ‘by heaven’ the ‘one that will do the deed’, or as the sexual eye. He will ‘sigh, watch and pray’ for her like ‘a plague that Cupid will impose for my neglect’. His neglect of natural logic means Cupid will impose his ‘almighty dreadful little might’.
          Berowne accepts the consequences.

    Well, I will love,write, sigh, pray, shue, groan,
    Some men must love my Lady and some Joan. (3.1.970-1)

          Berowne’s wariness of the ‘whitely wanton’ female anticipates the start of Act 4 where the Princess uses the erotic logic of language to mock the horse ‘riding’ of the King. She then engages in banter with the Forester about the logic of beauty and truth before asserting the priority of the female over the male.
          The initial exchange with Boyet (F)/Forester (Q) sets the tone for the lesson in philosophy that follows.

    Princess. Was that the King that spurred his horse so hard,
    Against the steep uprising of the hill
    Boyet. I know not, but think it was not he.
    Princess. Who e’er a’was, a’ showed a mounting mind: (4.1.975-8)

          When the Princess asks the Forester where in the ‘Bush’ she should stand to ‘play the murderer’ for the hunt, the Forester’s response initiates an examination of the word ‘fair’. Fair is considered in both its sense as ‘beauty’ and its sense as ‘truth’. The double meaning of the word fair in the first line of the first sonnet to convey the logic of truth and beauty has been considered in Volume 1. The exchange between the Forester and the Princess is precise in its distinction between ‘fair’ as beauty and ‘fair’ as truth.

    Forester. Hereby upon the edge of yonder Coppice,
    A stand where you may make the fairest shoot.
    Princess. I thank my beauty, I am fair that shoot,
    And thereupon thou speak’st the fairest shoot.
    Forester. Pardon me Madam, for I meant not so.
    Princess. What, what? First praise me, and again say no.
    O short lived pride. Not fair? alack for woe.
    Forester. Yes Madam fair.
    Princess. Nay, never paint me now,
    Where fair is not, praise cannot mend the brow.
    Here (good my glass) take this for telling true:
    Fair payment for foul words, is more than due. (4.1.983-94)

          The Princess intentionally mistakes the Forester’s sense of ‘fairest’, where he uses the word to say which is the best or most advantageous, for the sense of ‘fairest’ used as a response to sensation or ‘beauty’. When he objects to her misinterpretation, she reverts to his original meaning of ‘fair’ from the logic of saying which is best or worst, by claiming he first ‘praises’ her and then ‘says no’. The Princess’ injunction ‘What, what?’ (4.1.988) appropriately characterises the process of truth or saying, just as her invocation ‘See, see’, (4.1.996) appropriately characterises the apprehension of ‘beauty’ or sensations.
          In the logic of the Sonnets, ‘saying’, or in this case the denying of praise, is the truth dynamic in which possibilities are compared using words. The dynamic involves a ‘short lived pride’ because like the male erection, it vacillates between one possibility and another.
          The Princess further confounds the Forester when she asks if his change of mind (which she has deliberately induced) is ‘not fair’. He, now responding to his sense of her beauty, says ‘yes Madam fair’. But she counters him again by insisting that he cannot paint her ‘fair’ because ‘praise’ cannot change her ‘brow’ or looks. But because he used ‘fair’ correctly by ‘telling true’, she rewards him with a ‘fair’ or just payment for abiding the ‘fouling’ of his words.

    Forester. Nothing but fair is that which you inherit.
    Princess. See, see, my beauty will be saved by merit.
    O heresy in fair, fit for these days,
    A giving hand, though foul, shall have fair praise. (4.1.995-8)

          Shakespeare then introduces the increase argument to anchor the interchange about truth and beauty. The Forester, responding to the Princess’ reward for his honesty, adds his intuitively logical insight that being ‘fair’ is something that is ‘inherited’. The Princess replies that her ‘beauty’ will be saved through her ‘merit’, or her ability to appreciate the logic of beauty and its relation to the logic of truth. The ‘heresy in fair’, or the Princess’ deliberate use of the two meanings of ‘fair’ to demonstrate the logic of beauty and truth as an understanding ‘fit for these days’, may lead to her actions being judged ‘foul’, but she knows that her ‘giving hand’ deserves ‘fair praise’.
          The Princess, still conscious of the King who recently rode by, reveals the strategy by which she will demonstrate the priority of the female over the male.

    But come, the Bow:Now Mercy goes to kill,
    And shooting well, is then accounted ill.
    Thus will I save my credit in the shoot,
    Not wounding, pity would not let me do’t;
    If wounding, then it was to show my skill,
    That more for praise, than purpose meant to kill.
    And out of question, so it is sometimes:
    Glory grows guilty of detested crimes,
    When for Fame’s sake, for praise an outward part,
    We bend to that, the working of the heart:
    As I for praise alone now seek to spill
    The poor Deer’s blood, that my heart means no ill. (4.1.999-1010)

          The Princess takes up her ‘Bow’, or ‘Cupid’s arrow’. If she ‘shoots well’ and ‘kills…Mercy’, or the King’s faith, then contrarily her Mercy will be ‘accounted ill’. Instead, she will ‘save her credit’ and out of ‘pity’ will not wound the King. Or, if she does wound him, it will only be a side effect of the demonstration of her skill, for which she seeks ‘praise’. The Princess rejects the ‘question’ of criticism because this is one of those times that ‘Glory grows guilty of detested crimes’.
          In his opening speech, the King had identified his objective of acquiring ‘fame’ as one of the benefits of the retreat. The Princess now questions the retreat ‘for Fame’s sake’ where the King seeks praise for an outward part or external glory. In doing so he ‘bends…the working of the heart’. By contrast the Princess ‘for praise alone’, or for no ulterior motive, ‘will spill the poor Deer’s blood’, yet her ‘heart means no ill’.
          Boyet tests her claim by noting that ‘curst wives’ hold to ‘self-sovereignty only for praise’s sake, when they strive to be Lords over their Lords’.

    Boyet. Do not curst wives hold that self-sovereignty
    Only for praise sake, when they strive to be Lords o’er their Lords?
    Princess. Only for praise, and praise we may afford,
    To any Lady that subdues a Lord. (4.1.1011-15)

          The Princess is adamant that it is only through the Lords’ illogical ‘praise’ that she and her Ladies may ‘afford’ to subdue a Lord. The assertion by the Princess of her priority over the King and his Lords is only required when the Lords are acting illogically. Females have no need to assert their priority in everyday life because it is logically the case that they are prior. In the context of the play, with its many allusions to Christian dogma, the irony of a Lady asserting her priority over the Lord as Christ should not be lost.
          The Princess engages in erotic banter with Costard about ‘heads’, ‘greatest’, ‘highest’, ‘thickest’, ‘tallest’. His assertion that ‘truth is truth’ recognises the role of ‘truth’ as ‘saying’ or the capacity to differentiate sensations. He connects his appreciation of the dynamic of ‘truth’ to the relation of the Princess’ ‘waist’ and his ‘wit’, or to the sexual dynamic.
          Shakespeare’s presentation of the logical conditions for truth and beauty in Love’s Labour’s Lost has made the appreciation of the play difficult for anyone not aware of the definitive presentation of the philosophy in the Sonnets. The logical inter-relation between nature, the sexual dynamic, the increase possibility and the truth and beauty dynamic, which give Shakespeare’s works their expressive depth and force, invigorates the language of all the characters who are conscious of its operation in their lives and reveals the inadequacies in the lives of those who seek ‘fame’by denying the logic of life.
          Costard’s mistake of delivering the letter from Armado to Jaquenetta into the hands of the Princess and her Ladies is occasion for mirth, not least because, like the King, Armado confuses truth and beauty in his letter.

    By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible: true
    that thou art beauteous, truth itself that thou art
    lovely:more fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous,
    truer than truth itself, (4.1.1041-4)

          Beginning with ‘heaven’ and ‘infallible’, Armado demonstrates the complete confusion of truth and beauty typical of traditional apologetic philosophising. Then Shakespeare ridicules the King through the agency of Armado’s love for Jaquenetta, remembering that Armado was the ‘child of fancy’ whom the King and his Lords were to use for entertainment.

    The magnanimous and most illustrate King
    Cophetua set eye upon the pernicious and indubitate Beggar
    Zenelophon: and he it was that might rightly say,
    Veni, vidi, vici: which to annothanise in the vulgar, O
    base and obscure vulgar. videlicet, He came, See, and
    overcame. he came one; see, two: overcame three.
    Who came? the King. Why did he come? to see. Why
    did he see? to overcome. (4.1.1045-52)

          Armado’s attitude toward Jaquenetta’s ‘lowliness’ parodies the King’s low esteem of women. The letter encapsulates the King’s attitude toward women as inferior beings, about whose immanent arrival he forgot, and whom he belittles in matters of commerce. Worse, his academy excludes women from research into what is ‘not known’.
          The Princess is amazed at the admission of illogicality in the name of vanity.

    What plume of feathers is he that indited this
    What vane? What Weathercock? Did you
    ever hear better? (4.1.1074-6)

          Boyet identifies Armado as ‘one who makes sport to the Prince and his Book-mates’.
          While the letter is mistakenly Armado’s rather than Berowne’s, the idea that Berowne would write a letter to Rosaline elicits an erotic exchange between Boyet and Rosaline. He asks her ‘who is the shooter’ and they engage in banter using the terminology of the Princess’ speech at 4.1.996. Maria interjects that Boyet still ‘wrangles’ with Rosaline but that Rosaline ‘strikes at the brow’. Because he cannot ‘hit it’, alluding to Rosaline’s sexual propensity, Boyet accepts that if he ‘cannot, another can’. Some editors change ‘is in’ to ‘pin’ destroying the pun on ‘I sin’.
          Costard is impressed by the amicability of the resolution between Boyet and Rosaline, and engages in his own erotic banter with Boyet, quibbling over whether the hand is in the cleavage or out. Then Boyet leaves, quipping that there may be too much ‘rubbing’. Costard then reflects on the stupidity of Armado. Again, he seems to allude to Christian imagery integral to Armado’s and hence the King’s delusions.

    By my soul a Swain, a most simple Clown.
    Lord, Lord, how the Ladies and I have put him down.
    O my troth most sweet jests, most inconie vulgar wit,
    When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenely, as it were,
    so fit. (4.1.1137-9)

          Armado has taken the King’s idealistic expectations of ‘god-like recompense’ to its ludicrous extreme, and Costard has already called him an ‘inconie Jew’. So the double evocation of ‘Lord’ and what sounds like sweet Jesus in ‘sweet jests’ again connects the idealised surface of Christianity with the ‘obscenity’ of the ‘most inconie vulgar wit’. The reading is in keeping with Shakespeare’s many expressions of contempt in the poems, plays and the Sonnets for the illogicalities of Christian dogma.
          As Costard leaves the stage, his comment to ‘shoot within’ fittingly expresses the logical solution to the King’s and Armado’s inclination to shoot wide in sexual matters.
          Shakespeare takes his parody of the illogicality of the King’s programme to renewed heights with the introduction of Nathaniel the Curate, and Holofernes the Pedant. The Curate represents the ludicrousness of religious or ‘god-like’ pretensions, and the Pedant represents the stupidity of ‘book’ learning. The Curate sets the tone by sanctifying the Princess’ sport and moralising on her ‘good conscience’.

    Very reverent sport truly, and done in the testimony
    of a good conscience. (4.2.1151-2)

          The Princess’ strategy for bringing the King to his senses, by feigning to kill him but then taking pity when the King becomes aware of his crime, is turned by the Curate and Pedant into a pedantic debate over the sex of the deer. Rather than appreciate the Princess’ critique of the King’s malebased idealism, the Pedant and Curate, as so many pedants do, reduce a logical critique to a philological discussion.
          And the academic editors of the play unwittingly acknowledge their complicity with the pedants. They emend parts of Q/F and in doing so ignore the capacity of an audience to ‘hear’ the meaning of words and phrases in context. Editors who do not understand Shakespeare’s philosophy out of the Sonnets interfere with ‘Sanguis in blood’, and ‘haud credo’ and ‘epythithes’ and ‘Celo’ and ‘Dictisima’ and ‘prayful’. They seem driven by the collegial desire to be footnoted in subsequent editions.
          Dull, the constable, sums up their ignorance and pretension by calling the Pedant and Curate ‘book-men’. To characterise the academic mentality of the King and his two loyal Lords further, Shakespeare has Dull provide the Curate and Pedant with a facile test of wit.

    You two are book-men. Can you tell by your
    wit, What was a month old at Cain’s birth, that’s not five
    weeks old as yet. (4.2.1189-91)

          Holofernes demonstrates the ‘facility’ of his ‘rare talent’by reciting a ditty based on the mindless relationship of ‘sore’ and ‘sorel’ and the Latin symbol ‘L’ for fifty. His assessment of his ‘gift’ mimics the expectations of the King and his Lords.

    This is a gift that I have simple: simple, a foolish
    extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes,
    objects, Ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions. These
    are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the
    womb of primater, and delivered upon the mellowing
    of occasion: but the gift is good in those in whom it is acute,
    and I am thankful for it. (4.2.1230-6)

          The Pedant, in his enthusiasm to do himself justice, represents the ‘spirit’ as simple, foolish and extravagant, and uses the metaphor of birth (begot, womb of primater) to characterise his acuteness of mind. Editors change ‘primater’ of Q/F to pia mater, not appreciating that Shakespeare is demonstrating the unavoidable dependency of all language on biological metaphor. Holoferne's slip of the tongue subconsciously recognises the erotic basis of ideas. But the Curate’s ‘praise’ of the ‘Lord’ completely undermines the logic of learning and tutoring.
          Jaquenetta enters and addresses ‘Master Person’. The Curate responds but asks whom she refers to, as he is a ‘quasi Person’ or half a man of God or representative of Christ. Jaquenetta pokes fun at the Curate by addressing him in the name of ‘God’, but then calls him ‘Master Person’. Shakespeare recognises that, despite the pretensions of his office, the Curate is logically no different from any other person. Costard carries the pun to the ‘schoolmaster’ whose rotundness he likens to a ‘hogshead’. The Curate unwittingly agrees with the image of ‘piercing a hogshead’ because it accords with his status as ‘a luster of conceit in a turf of earth…pearl enough for swine’, etc.
          Jaquenetta then asks the Curate to read the letter, supposedly from Armado, which Costard has handed to her. Before the Curate begins, he takes the opportunity to exhibit his learnedness.

    Facile precor gellida quando pecas omne sub
    umbra ruminat
    , and so forth. Ah, good old Mantuan. I
    may speak of thee as the traveler doth of Venice.
    vemchie, vencha, que non te unde, que non te perreche
    . Old
    Mantuam! Old Mantuan! Who understandeth thee not, loves thee not,
    ut re sol la mi fa. Under pardon, sir, What are the contents? or rather as
    Horace says in his, What my soul verses. (4.2.1257-63)

          The Pedant in response acknowledges the Curate’s attempt to sound ‘learned’.

    Ay sir, and very learned. (4.2.1264)

          And, before reading the sonnet from Berowne, the Curate sounds off again.

    Let me hear a staff, a stanze, a verse. Lege
    domine. (4.2.1265-6)

          Berowne’s sonnet gives expression to the realisations of a male who is becoming more conscious of the logic of love. The sonnet contains many ideas that would later become articulated fully in the Sonnets.

    If Love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?
    Ah never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed.
    Though to my self forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove.
    Those thoughts to me were Oaks, to thee like Osiers
    Study his bias leaves, and makes his book thine eyes.
    Where all those pleasures live, that Art would
    If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice.
    Well learned is that tongue, that well can thee commend.
    All ignorant that soul, that sees thee without wonder.
    Which is to me some praise, that I thy parts admire;
    Thy eye Jove’s lightning bears, thy voice his dreadful
    Which not to anger bent, is musique, and sweet fire.
    Celestial as though art, Oh pardon love this wrong,
    That sings heaven’s praise, with such an earthly tongue. (4.2.1267-83)

          Berowne begins by considering the relation between oath taking and being forsworn that is examined in the Mistress sonnets on truth or saying (137-152). His ‘Love’ for Rosaline has broken the oath he made under the idealistic expectations of the King. An idealistic act of ‘faith’ cannot logically be sustained if it does not include a ‘vow to the ‘beauty’ of women. Only by being true to himself can a person be ‘faithful’ to an oath. Love’s natural bias is to avoid the type of ‘study’ based on the bias or prejudice of the King’s idealism, and to base understanding instead in the ‘book’ of woman’s ‘eyes’.
          Berowne views ‘pleasure’ as the source of art and knowledge, because the tongue/penis/vagina is the logical source of learning. In contrast the idealised ‘soul’ is ignorant because it ‘sees thee without wonder’ or without a regard for earthy nature. Only the woman’s ‘eye’ can bear ‘Jove’s’ lightning and her voice his thunder. It is not the learning of males or the male God that is ‘celestial’ but women themselves. He was wrong to have sung ‘heaven’s praise’ with his ‘earthly tongue’.
          Shakespeare reformulates the expectations of biblical faith within the activities of daily life, with the logical role of increase in nature as the pivotal precondition. The Sonnets correct the illogicalities of traditional faith by making truth and beauty dependent on the increase dynamic. Faith ignores the activities of daily life at its peril.
          When the Pedant criticises the Curate’s unskillful reading of Berowne’s sonnet, the Curate responds with further pretensions and a mockery of Ovid. Shakespeare has the Curate mock the poet whose mythology he critiques and corrects in Venus and Adonis.

    Here are only numbers ratified, but for the
    elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of poesy caret:
    Ovidius Naso
    was the man. And why, indeed, Naso, but
    for smelling out the odoriferous flowers of fancy, the
    jerks of invention imitari is nothing. So doth the
    Hound his master, the Ape his keeper, the tired Horse
    his rider: But, Damosella virgin, Was this directed to
    you? (4.2.1286-93)

          Jaquenetta then mistakes Berowne for one of the ‘strange Queen’s Lords’. When the Curate reads the ‘superscript’ to the letter to ‘the most beauteous Lady Rosaline’, he assures ‘Sir Holofernes’ that Berowne is ‘one of the votaries with the King’.
          Editors traditionally have made many reallocations of parts in Act 4.2. They have had particular difficulty with the roles of the Curate, Nathaniel, and the Pedant, Holofernes, and they make many changes to names and words that occur in both Q and F. The above reading demonstrates that the original designations and spellings make complete sense and are in keeping with the logic expressed in the Sonnet philosophy.
          The difficulty most editors of the play have with the attribution of character is a consequence of their lack of empathy with the philosophy articulated in the Sonnets. Their continual interference with the interaction between types who stand for religious and academic pretensions reveals instead their allegiance to the same illogical conditions of love and faith. Like the numerous emendations they make to the Sonnets, the changes they make to the plays can only give them the satisfaction of making their mark on a text they do not understand or do not want to understand.
          Berowne then distinguishes between the King’s concern for external show and his own tendency to introversion. If the King and the other Lords ‘pitched a toil’ or set a trap to gather knowledge for themselves, then Berowne has become trapped by Rosaline’s pitch black eyes.

    O but her eye: by
    this light, but for her eye, I would not love her; yes, for
    her two eyes. (4.3.1342-4)

          The relation of the female to the male is given its definitive expression in the Sonnets. The male lacks a dimension which the female has because she is the source of the male. When the King and Lords cast a net for knowledge they ignore the logic of their biology. The priority of the female over the male generates a sense of apprehension in males which they convey by characterising women’s eyes as pitch black. Once the male recognises the inadequacy of his condition, as does Berowne, he becomes happily entrapped in the pitch he once feared or scorned.
          In the Sonnets, the Mistress uses both her eyes. The eye of knowledge defines the logic of beauty and truth and the sexual eye engenders the logic upon which truth and beauty is based. The combination of these eyes for an appreciation of the logic of the sexual and the erotic is the basis for complete understanding. Of the King and his Lords, Berowne most nearly represents Shakespeare’s philosophic position. At the end of the play the Princess and her Ladies will deal to his residual allegiance to male priority.
          In Act 4, scene 3, the last scene before Act 5 brings to a conclusion the implications of the previous acts, Shakespeare exposes the idealistic attitudes of the King and his more loyal adherents. Berowne’s views were summarised when his sonnet was read in Act 4, scene 2. By considering Berowne’s sonnet in scene 2, Shakespeare provided its common sense philosophy an appropriate context amongst the common folk, represented by Costard and Jaquenetta, and the two representatives of the King’s pretentiousness, the Curate and the Pedant. When the Curate reads the sonnet to the Pedant they do not appreciate its meaning, but mistake the identity of its author and have academic quibbles over how well it was read.
          The reading of Berowne’s sonnet, before the other Lords read theirs, also creates the opportunity, at the end of scene 3, for Berowne to articulate Shakespeare’s philosophy more fully when he is asked by the King to ‘prove their loving lawful, and our faith not torn’. If the King and the two Lords had already heard Berowne’s sonnet they would have been less likely to seek his opinion. Berowne’s role in overhearing the recital by the King and Longaville and Dumaine of their views gives him an overview of the Lord’s ‘faith’. As Berowne remarked when Dumaine was about to read his sonnet, ‘once more I’ll mark how Love can vary Wit’.
          So the reading of the sonnets by the King and the other two Lords provides an opportunity to evaluate their philosophical distance from that expressed in Berowne’s sonnet. Appropriately, the King leads. His sonnet expresses his supreme egotism and misogyny. Contrary to Berowne, who looks into the woman’s eyes to discover what is absent in himself, the King imagines that the Princess’ eyes send ‘beams’ onto the tears flowing down his cheeks to create an image of her there. His supreme selfishness makes her existence a function of his grief. Ironically, he wants her to ‘glory in his grief ’ so that she will learn not to ‘love herself ’.

    So sweet a kiss the golden Sun gives not,
    To those fresh morning drops upon the Rose,
    As thy eye beams, when their fresh rays have smote.
    The night of dew that on my cheeks down flows.
    Nor shines the silver Moon one half so bright,
    Through the transparent bosom of the deep,
    As doth thy face through tears of mine give light:
    Thou shin’st in every tear that I do weep
    No drop, but as a Coach doth carry thee:
    So ridest thou triumphing in my woe.
    Do but behold the tears that swell in me,
    And they thy glory through my grief will show:
    But do not love thy self
    , then thou wilt keep
    My tears for glasses, and still make me weep.
    O Queen of Queens, how far dos thou excel,
    No thought can think, nor tongue of mortal tell. (4.3.1358-73)

          Shakespeare creates an image of a King besotted with his masculine-based sense of superiority, who deigns to allow a female to ride down his cheek on his tears. The King’s morbid self-pity captures the extreme romanticism of melancholic self-love that is contrary to Shakespeare’s philosophy. The King is identified as the principle offender against the natural order, and doubly so because he is King.       Longaville is less self-absorbed than the King. He acknowledges the significance of the female eye, but only the eye of the head or mind. He does not recognise the double quality of the female, as Shakespeare does in the Mistress sequence of the Sonnets, and as Berowne does with his characterisation of her eyes as ‘pitch black’ and divided between the sexual and the erotic. Instead, Longaville, as a willing votary of the King, accepts the ‘argument’ of women’s eyes as evidence of their heavenly or Goddess-like status.

    Did not the heavenly Rhetoric of thine eye,
    ’Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument,
    Persuade my heart to this false perjury?
    Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.
    A woman I forswore, but I will prove,
    Thou being a Goddess, I forswore not thee.
    My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly Love.
    Thy grace being gained, cures all disgrace in me.
    Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is.
    Then thou fair Sun, which on my earth dost shine,
    Exhal’st this vapour-vow, in thee it is.
    If broken then, it is no fault of mine.
    If by me broke, What fool is not so wise
    To loose an oath, to win a Paradise
    ? (4.3.1393-1406)

          This is contrary to the logic of the Sonnets and to the logic of the play in which the males need to acknowledge the priority of the female. But Shakespeare’s intent is not to replace the male God in a realm beyond natural logic. The Mistress of the Sonnets and Nature as the ‘sovereign mistress’ are not ‘deities’, but logical entities that anchor Shakespeare’s philosophy to the natural conditions prevailing in life on earth.
          Dumaine then reveals his ‘love sick’ state of mind in an ‘ode’. If the King is self-involved and Longaville sees Maria as a Goddess, Dumaine imagines himself as a God who, because he is now forsworn to a woman of whom even Jove would swear that white was black, deigns to become a ‘mortal’ for her sake.

    On a day, alack the day.
    Love, whose Month is ever May,
    Spied a blossom passing fair
    Playing in the wanton air:
    Through the Velvet, leaves the wind,
    All unseen, can passage find.
    That the Lover sick to death,
    Wish himself the heaven’s breath.
    Air (quoth he) thy cheeks may blow,
    Air, would I might triumph so.
    But alack my hand is sworn,
    Ne’er to pluck thee from thy throne.
    Vow alack for youth unmeet,
    Youth so apt to pluck a sweet.
    Do not call it sin in me,
    That I am forsworn for thee.
    Thou for whom Jove would swear,
    Juno but an Ethiope were,
    And deny himself for Jove,
    Turning mortal for thy Love. (4.3.1438-57)

          To heighten the contrast with the philosophic position expressed by Berowne, Shakespeare allows the King and his loyal Lords to exhibit their pathos and recite their idealist conceits. By incorporating inadequate and technically inferior examples of poetry and sonnet writing into the text of Love’s Labour’s Lost, Shakespeare takes the opportunity to critique the work of his contemporaries. The Sonnets are precise in identifying the logical conditions that separate the poetry of the Poet from that of the idealistic Master Mistress and his poetic counterparts, the rival poets.
          Longaville advances to advise Dumaine that his poem has been overheard and his secret ‘love’ revealed. The King in turn advances to let Longaville know he has also been discovered. But his principle concern is,

    What will Berowne say when that he shall hear
    Faith infringed, which such zeal did swear. (4.3.1482-3)

          Berowne then steps forward to ‘whip hypocrisy’. He mocks the King and Lords for their infidelity to their vows and their transformation under love, and calls for a ‘candle’ to light them out of darkness. (Editors change ‘candle’ to ‘caudle’ not respecting the reference at 4.3.1511 to ‘a candle’.) The King acknowledges that they have been ‘betrayed’ by Berowne’s ‘overview’. Beginning with a tell-tale slip of the tongue, ‘Not you by me, but I betrayed to you’ (editors exchange the ‘to’ and the ‘by’ not appreciating their significance), Berowne disingenuously accuses the ‘men’ of ‘inconstancy’.       The King heard the slip and challenges Berowne’s veracity.

    Soft, Wither a-way so fast?
    A true man, or a thief, that gallops so. (4.3.1524-5)

          But, Berowne wants away before he is discovered.

    I post from Love, good Lover let me go. (4.3.1526)

          Jaquenetta and Costard reenter bringing Berowne’s sonnet, which he attempts to discard before being forced to admit his ‘guilt’. When he asks for Jaquenetta and Costard to be sent away, Costard identifies the common theme of Shakespeare’s philosophy.

    Walk aside the true folk, and let the traitors stay. (4.3.1561)

          Berowne’s response brings to a focus the critique already apparent in the somewhat cryptic references to Christ and Christianity earlier in the play.

    Sweet Lords, sweet Lovers, O let us embrace,
    As true we are as flesh and blood can be,
    The Sea will ebb and flow, heaven will show his face.
    Young blood
    doth not obey an old decree.
    We cannot cross the cause why we are born:
    Therefore of all hands must we be forsworn. (4.3.1562-7)

          The Kings statement, ‘too bitter is thy jest’, is answered by Berowne’s reference back to of Costard’s ‘sweet jests’ when he calls on the ‘Sweet Lords’, who are now the ‘sweet Lovers’, to embrace. The Lords as lovers represent the ‘true’ relation of ‘flesh and blood’, misrepresented by Christ at the last supper as mythological. The ‘Sea’ or the woman as nature will always ‘ebb and flow’ while ‘heaven’ or God barely shows his face. ‘Young blood’, or the desire to increase, will always outdo any ‘decree’, such as the Lords’ oaths. They cannot ‘cross’ the cause, or accept the message of the Cross of Christ because if they do they dishonour the very idea of being born. Hence they must be ‘forsworn’ of all ‘hands’ or restraints on their natural logic.
          The King’s response is to denigrate Berowne’s sonnet and so the nature of Berowne’s love for Rosaline.

    What, did these rent lines show some love of
    thine? (4.3.1568-9)

          The King is so romantically and idealistically consumed in self-love he does not recognise the objectivity and natural balance in Berowne’s expression of love. But Berowne sees through the King’s conceit.

    Did they, quoth you? Who sees the heavenly Rosaline,
    That (like a rude and savage man of Inde.)
    At the first opening of the gorgeous East,
    Bows not his vassal head, and strooken blind,
    Kisses the base ground with obedient breast?
    What peremptory Eagle-sighted eye
    Dares look upon the heaven of her brow,
    That is not blinded by her majesty? (4.3.1570-7)

          Berowne’s love of Rosaline, like any man’s love, can have the look of ‘heavenly majesty’. But the King will not allow equality in love to unequals in station.

    What zeal, what fury, hath inspired thee now?
    My Love (her Mistress) is a gracious Moon,
    She (an attending Star) scarce seen a light
    . (4.3.1578-80)

          In an irony only fully revealed in the arrangement of the Mistress sonnets, the King characterises his love as a ‘Mistress’ who has the qualities of the Moon, a reference Shakespeare quantifies by giving the Sonnet Mistress a lunar number of 28 sonnets. Berowne insists on the right of his love to be equal to any other love. His description of his love has many echoes later incorporated into the Sonnets.

    My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Berowne.
    O, but for my Love, the day would turn to night,
    Of all complexions culled sovereignty,
    Do meet as at a fair in her fair cheek,
    Where several Worthies make one dignity,
    Where nothing wants, that want it self doth seek.
    Lend me the flourish of all gentle tongues,
    Fie painted Rhetoric, O she needs it not,
    To things of sale, a seller’s praise belongs:
    She passes praise, then praise too short doth blot.
    A withered Hermit, five score winters worn,
    Might shake off fifty, looking in her eye:
    Beauty doth varnish Age, as if new born,
    And gives the Crutch the Cradles infancy.
    O ’tis the Sun that maketh all things shine. (4.3.1581-95)

          Berowne affirms his understanding of natural beauty, of the relation of beauty to the newborn out of the woman’s ‘eye’ or the increase argument, and the ‘Sun’, not God, as the maker of all things. The King, blinded by religious dogma, cannot see such natural beauty.

    By heaven, thy Love is black as Ebony. (4.3.1596)

          Berowne insists on the rights of natural logic over the dogma of a King.

    Is Ebony like her? O word divine?
    A wife of such wood were felicity.
    O who can give an oath? Where is a book?
    That I may swear Beauty both beauty lack,
    If that she learn not of her eye to look:
    No face is fair that is not full so black. (4.3.1597-1602)

          The King reveals the depth of his idealistic religious prejudice, which has divorced beauty from beauty.

    O paradox, Black is the badge of hell,
    The hue of dungeons, and the School of night:
    And beauty’s crest becomes the heavens well. (4.3.1603-5)

          Berowne continues as the mouthpiece for Shakespeare’s natural logic by expressing the appreciation of the logic of beauty detailed definitively in the Mistress sequence of the Sonnets.

    Devils soonest tempt resembling spirits of light.
    O if in black my Lady’s brows be decked,
    It mourns, that painting and usurping hair
    Should ravish doters with a false aspect:
    And therefore is she born to make black, fair.
    Her favour turns the fashion of the days,
    For native blood is counted painting now:
    And therefore red that would avoid dispraise,
    Paints it self black, to imitate her brow. (4.3.1606-14)

          The King’s faithful Lords rally to his defence and reveal their combined prejudice in the ensuing banter. Berowne insists he ‘will prove her fair’ against their conventional idealised notions of beauty. The King relents, reminding them they have all fallen in love. So he asks Berowne to ‘prove our loving lawful, and our faith not torn’. Dumaine wants ‘some flattery for this evil’ and ‘some salve for perjury’, and Longaville ‘some trick, some quillets, how to cheat the devil’. Like any believer in an illogical faith, they all seek a way to excuse themselves of the ill consequences of their illogicality. Like apologists who argue to justify biblical theology, they will use any unjust means to justify themselves.
          Berowne’s response is the lengthiest statement of Shakespeare’s philosophy in the play. Editors uncomfortable with its content have looked for ways to shorten its argument, which prioritises the female over the male, and draws on the increase argument, and the dynamic of truth and beauty. In the recent Oxford edition a section of Berowne’s speech is removed to the back of the volume under the heading ‘false starts’. The degree to which the Oxford editors (among many) are alienated from their natural philosophy overrides the fact that the original editors of both Q and F accepted the whole speech without quibble. Modern editors are unwilling to accept that their faulty philosophical approach is responsible for their disrespect shown to a text accepted by Shakespeare’s contemporaries.
          One line in particular unsettles the pedants. The repetition of the line ‘from women’s eyes this doctrine I derive’ (4.3.1652) later in the speech (4.3.1701) serves to refocus Berowne’s argument from the vantage of a ‘Poet’. Berowne adopts the Poet’s-eye view as he moves to summarise his case after 50 lines of argument. The editors’ ignorance of the Sonnet philosophy makes it impossible for them to appreciate the logical role of the Poet in Shakespeare’s logic.
          After the monologues by Venus in Venus and Adonis, Berowne’s speech represents the most sustained argument in a poem or play for Shakespeare’s understanding. It brings to focus the issues addressed by Berowne in his speech in Act.1.1, and in his sonnet. It summarises the philosophic intent of the whole play which, in turn, was written to present the philosophy of all the plays up to that point in Shakespeare’s career as a writer. It is fitting that the whole speech be reproduced here and then is considered piece by piece.

    O ’tis more than need.
    Have at you then affection’s men at arms,
    Consider what you first did swear unto:
    To fast, to study, and to see no woman:
    Flat treason against the Kingly state of youth
    Say, Can you fast? your stomachs are too young:
    And abstinence engenders maladies.
    And where that you have vowed to study (Lords)
    In that each of you have forsworn his Book,
    Can you still dream and pore, and thereon look.
    For when would you my Lord, or you, or you,
    Have found the ground of study’s excellence,
    Without the beauty of a woman’s face;
    From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive
    Thy are the Ground, the Books, the Academes,
    From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire.
    Why, universal plodding poisons up
    The nimble spirits in the arteries
    As motion and long during action tires
    The sinewy vigour of the traveler.
    Now for not looking on a woman’s face,
    You have in that forsworn the use of eyes
    And study too, the causer of your vow.
    For where is any Author in the world,
    Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye
    Learning is but an adjunct to our self,
    And where we are our Learning likewise is.
    Then when our selves we see in Ladies’ eyes,
    With our selves.
    Do we not likewise see our learning there?
    O we have made a Vow to study, Lords,
    And in that vow we have forsworn our Books;
    For when would you (my Liege) or you, or you?
    In leaden contemplation have found out
    Such fiery Numbers as the prompting eyes,
    Of beauty’s tutors
    have enriched you with:
    Other slow Arts entirely keep the brain:
    And therefore finding barren practicers,
    Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil.
    But Love first learned in a Lady’s eyes,
    Lives not alone immured in the brain
    But with the motion of all elements,
    Courses as swift as thought in every power,
    And gives to every power a double power,
    Above their functions and their offices.
    It adds a precious seeing to the eye:
    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 stopped.
    Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible,
    Than are the tender horns of Cockled Snails.
    Love’s tongue proves dainty
    , Bacchus gross in taste,
    For Valour, is not Love a Hercules?
    Still climbing trees in the Hesperides.
    Subtle as Sphinx, as sweet and musical,
    As bright Apollo’s Lute, strung with his hair.
    And when Love speaks, the voice of all the Gods,
    Make heaven drowsy with the harmony.
    Never durst Poet touch a pen to write,
    Until his Ink were temp’red with Love’s sighs
    O then his lines would ravish savage ears,
    And plants in Tyrant’s mild humility
    From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive.
    They sparkle still the right Promethean fire,
    They are the Books, the Arts, the Academes,
    That show, contain, and nourish all the world.
    Else none at all in aught proves excellent.
    Then fools you were these women to forswear:
    Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools,
    For Wisdom’s sake, a word that all men love:
    Or for Love’s sake, a word that loves all men.
    Or for Men’s sake, the author of these Women:
    Or Women’s sake, by whom we men are Men
    Let’s once lose our oaths to find our selves
    Or else we lose ourselves, to keep our oaths:
    It is religion to be thus forsworn.
    For Charity itself fulfils the Law:
    And who can sever love from Charity? (4.3.1639-1716)

          Berowne begins by berating the King, Longaville and Dumaine for their decision ‘to see no woman’. This, he says, with a parody on Kingship, is ‘flat treason against the Kingly state of youth’. Consistent with the increase argument in the Sonnets, Berowne accuses the King of denying the logic of increase which requires both female and male for the persistence of humankind, and consequently of Kings.

    O ’tis more than need.
    Have at you then affection’s men at arms,
    Consider what you first did swear unto:
    To fast, to study, and to see no woman:
    Flat treason against the Kingly state of youth
    Say, Can you fast? your stomachs are too young:
    And abstinence engenders maladies. (4.3.1639-45)

          Shakespeare states explicitly that the denial of the logic of increase ‘engenders maladies’, or the evil excesses that accompany an unbalanced conception of life. If the Lords have forsworn his ‘Book’ or connection to life how could they expect to find ‘the ground of study’s excellence, without the beauty of a woman’s face’?

    And where that you have vowed to study (Lords)
    In that each of you have forsworn his Book,
    Can you still dream and pore, and thereon look.
    For when would you my Lord, or you, or you,
    Have found the ground of study’s excellence,
    Without the beauty of a woman’s face;
    From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive
    Thy are the Ground, the Books, the Academes,
    From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire. (4.3.1646-54)

          Berowne begins by defining his understanding of the body and mind. He introduces his case with a statement of the increase principle, and follows that with a statement of the relation of ‘studies excellence’ to a woman’s ‘face’. He unites the two possibilities that give the editors so much discomfort. He derives his doctrine of the unity of the body and mind and the priority of the body over the mind from ‘women’s eyes’. He combines the body and mind with the single image of the eye, the sexual eye and the eye of the face. (Longaville introduced the idea of the mind as prior to the body at 1.1.29.)
          Shakespeare, through Berowne, identifies the logical basis of all thought and expression. He knows that all mythologies, including biblical mythology, are based in the logical relation of the body and mind. He corrects the inconsistencies in biblical logic so he is able to write poems and plays at the deepest level of expression, the mythic, with philosophic consistency. He challenges the psychological dependencies of the King and his Lords on their ‘universal’ sense of god-like recompense. Such a universal expectation is death to an understanding of life.

    Why, universal plodding poisons up
    The nimble spirits in the arteries
    As motion and long during action tires
    The sinewy vigour of the traveler.
    Now for not looking on a woman’s face,
    You have in that forsworn the use of eyes
    And study too, the causer of your vow.
    For where is any Author in the world,
    Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye
    Learning is but an adjunct to our self,
    And where we are our Learning likewise is.
    Then when our selves we see in Ladies’ eyes,
    With our selves. (4.3.1655-67)

          Berowne, as does Shakespeare, asks where there is any ‘Author’ in the world (‘Author’ has a capital A in the Folio), such as God, whose teaching is based on ‘a woman’s eye’. If we are to discover ‘our selves’ we must first ‘see’ that we came from ‘Ladies’ eyes’ by acknowledging both the body and the mind.

    Do we not likewise see our learning there?
    O we have made a Vow to study, Lords,
    And in that vow we have forsworn our Books;
    For when would you (my Liege) or you, or you?
    In leaden contemplation have found out
    Such fiery Numbers as the prompting eyes,
    Of beauty’s tutors
    have enriched you with:
    Other slow Arts entirely keep the brain:
    And therefore finding barren practicers,
    Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil. (4.3.1668-77)

          The vow made by the Lords is a contravention of the logic of learning. In a metaphor based on increase, it makes them ‘barren practicers’who show no ‘harvest’. Love learned in a ‘Lady’s eyes’, because it is not based in the ‘brain’ alone, courses through the body to ‘double’ its power.

    But Love first learned in a Lady’s eyes,
    Lives not alone immured in the brain
    But with the motion of all elements,
    Courses as swift as thought in every power,
    And gives to every power a double power,
    Above their functions and their offices.
    It adds a precious seeing to the eye:
    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 stopped.
    Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible,
    Than are the tender horns of Cockled Snails.
    Love’s tongue proves dainty
    , Bacchus gross in taste,
    For Valour, is not Love a Hercules?
    Still climbing trees in the Hesperides.
    Subtle as Sphinx, as sweet and musical,
    As bright Apollo’s Lute, strung with his hair.
    And when Love speaks, the voice of all the Gods,
    Make heaven drowsy with the harmony
    . (4.3.1678-96)

          The imagery of ‘tender horns of Cockled Snails’ and ‘Love’s tongue’ reinforce the sexual basis of learning and, as the Lords themselves have demonstrated, when ‘Love speaks’ as the true voice of ‘all the Gods’ (Capital G in the Folio), ‘heaven’ is brought into ‘harmony’ with nature.

    Never durst Poet touch a pen to write,
    Until his Ink were temp’red with Love’s sighs
    O then his lines would ravish savage ears,
    And plants in Tyrant’s mild humility
    From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive.
    They sparkle still the right Promethean fire,
    They are the Books, the Arts, the Academes,
    That show, contain, and nourish all the world.
    Else none at all in aught proves excellent. (4.3.1697-705)

          When Shakespeare has Berowne appreciate that the Poet’s ‘ink is temper’d with Love’s sighs’, he is speaking from experience and in anticipation of the qualities he gives to the Poet of the Sonnets. The repetition of ‘From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive’ is firstly a testament from a character in the play and secondly a testament from the vantage of a ‘Poet’, who can write poetry on the basis of the understanding that women’s eyes are ‘the Books, the Arts, the Academes’.
          The ‘fools’, the King and his men (and the editors who remove the second passage), ‘were fools these women to forswear’. If they claim to do their foolery for ‘Wisdom’s sake’, they are in love with the word wisdom. If they were to do it for ‘Love’s sake’, they would recognise that women are prior to men ‘by whom we men are men’. To take an ‘oath’ is to lose ‘ourselves’. Shakespeare explicitly identifies ‘religion’ as the principal cause of becoming ‘forsworn’.

    Then fools you were these women to forswear:
    Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools,
    For Wisdom’s sake, a word that all men love:
    Or for Love’s sake, a word that loves all men.
    Or for Men’s sake, the author of these Women:
    Or Women’s sake, by whom we men are Men
    Let’s once lose our oaths to find our selves
    Or else we lose ourselves, to keep our oaths:
    It is religion to be thus forsworn.
    For Charity itself fulfils the Law:
    And who can sever love from Charity? (4.3.1706-16)

          To remind ‘religion’ of its duty to ‘the Law’ Shakespeare takes one of its own adages and challenges the Lords’ willingness to adhere to it. It is ‘Charity’ to fulfill the Law, and no one can ‘sever love from Charity’. The King and the Lords, standing proxy for Christ and God, demonstrate the foolishness of taking oaths against the ‘Law’ of the natural world.
          The King demonstrates his inadequate understanding by making a ‘Saint’ out of Cupid, and calling for a crusade against the women. Berowne humours him but advises him to be sure he ‘gets the Sun of them’. The events that follow show how poorly the King has appreciated the lesson as it is the Ladies who keep the ‘Sun’ in the eyes of the Lords. The Lords, freed from the constraints of conscience, expect to take the women as a little more than entertainment. Berowne, though, has a word of caution.

    Alone,Alone sowed Cockle, reaped no Corn,
    And Justice always whirls in equal measure:
    Light Wenches may prove plagues to men forsworn,
    If so, our Copper buys no better treasure. (4.3.1734-7)

          In a repeat of the increase argument, he advises that ‘Men’, if they sow their cocks ‘alone’, will reap no corn. If they have not appreciated the full force of the increase argument and its implications for learning, they will get justice in equal measure. If they take the Ladies as ‘light wenches’, the Ladies will prove a ‘plague’ to men who have broken their vows to better gain a woman. If they do so, then the value of their ‘Coppers’ or coins will get no better ‘treasure’ or sexual favours than that from a light wench. The Ladies will spurn them, as happens at the play’s end.
          Again, editors, from 1733 to recent editions, have made fools of themselves by altering ‘alone, alone’ (Q and F) to the idiot phrase ‘allons, allons’. In a play that is heavily emended through ignorance, this example is the reductio ad absurdum.
          Love’s Labour’s Lost is a play created by Shakespeare to express his philosophy. He knows that his understanding of the logic of life is at odds with the religious conventions of his day. He is also aware, though, that his understanding is consistent with nature as it exists, and accurately reflects the conditions of life in the world. He has already written a number of plays based on the philosophic outlook he developed sometime in the 1580s. And he has written two long poems that give expression to the philosophy.
          When Shakespeare decided to write a play that specifically embodied his logic, he attempted to convert the long poems to the theatrical requirements of the stage. He expanded the number of characters to represent more dramatically the argument positions of the Sonnets. The king and the three Lords represent aspects of the adolescent Master Mistress of the Sonnets, with his excessive idealisation and misogyny. The Princess and her Ladies represent the female dimension with its priority over the males, and a level of maturity that logically determines the outcome of the play. Boyet, companion of the Ladies, represents the male who has reconciled himself to the logic of life.
          Of the King and the three Lords, it is Berowne who states the logical requirement that the male needs to acknowledge the priority of the female and accept the logical conditions for learning. Each of the other Lords represents a different aspect of male self-conceit. The Ladies are more homogeneous as a group because they represent the female who is the logical source of all understanding. To characterise further the illogicality of male expectations, the Curate represents religious stupidity, the Pedant represents academic stupidity, the constable represents the arbitrariness of the law, and the Spanish knight represents social pretension.
          In turn, the Page, the Rustic and the Forester represent the condition of humankind before the pretensions of religion, learning and society distort common sense. The milkmaid represents the female in the state of common sense, affected by the conventions of society but not controlled by them. She and the Ladies share a common sense of womanhood.
          Shakespeare, more than other writer, was able to hold to common sense, while taking the learning process to its highest possible pitch in mythic expression. The effectiveness of each characterisation in the plays bears witness to his complete accord with natural logic. He was able to create a play that conformed in every respect to his philosophy yet with a variety of characters that made it possible to present a play on the stage before an audience that expected to be entertained.
          Up to this point, two thirds of the play has been devoted to introducing and embodying the argument positions each character represents. Significantly, Shakespeare has used the character of Berowne to represent his philosophic understanding in each of the Acts, culminating in his major speech at the end of Act 4. The remainder of the play is now devoted to letting the characters interact to demonstrate theatrically what has previously been largely an argumentative set piece. In the theatrical action of Act 5, which occupies over a third of the play, the characters are brought to their ‘quietus’ (sonnet 126), with the males subjected to the priority of the females with the possibility of love won if they can demonstrate an understanding of the logic of nature and reject ‘god-like’ recompense.
          With his ‘satis quod sufficit’, the Pedant signals the advance to the next stage of the play. The Curate, for his part, ‘praises God’ and, in his praise of the Pedant, proceeds to list the job description for a compliant academic.

                                  pleasant without scurrility,
    witty without affection, audacious without
    impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without
    heresy. (5.1.1742-5)

          When the Curate describes Armado as a companion to the King, the Pedant unwittingly mocks the King’s psychological disposition.

                                  His humour is lofty,
    his discourse peremptory. his tongue filed, his eye
    , his gait majestical, his general behaviour
    vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. (5.1.1748-51)

    He draweth out the thread of his verbosity
    finer than the staple of his argument. (5.1.1756-7)

          Shakespeare is preeminently conscious of the logical conditions for philosophic argument. The Pedant, like the editors who find fault with many of the words in the following lines, objects to writers like Shakespeare who are ‘rackers of orthography’. The editors interfere with the spellings and punctuation, which both Q and F accept, by refusing to allow the rich meaning conveyed by the words read aloud. ‘Bome boon for boon prescian’, ‘unum cita’ are unnecessarily altered, and many changes of capitals and punctuation mar modern editions.
          Moth and Costard sum up the heady interchange between the Curate and the Pedant.

    Moth They have been at a great feast of Languages
    and stolen the scraps.
    Costard O they have lived long on the alms-basket of
    . (5.1.1776-9)

          They bring the Pedant and the Curate back to the origin of language ‘offered by a child to an old man’. They take them through their vowels and pun on the sexual underpinning of the meaning of words like ‘horn’. Costard suggests they stick their fingers up their arses.

    Go to,
    thou hast it ad dunghill, at the fingers ends, as they say. (5.1.1812-3)

          But the Pedant and Armado can only ‘smell false Latin’. They want to be ‘singled from the barbarous’ talk of the commoners, but then proceed seemingly innocently to use terms such as ‘Mons’ (for Mons Veneris), to congratulate the Princess ‘in the posteriors of this day’, and ‘dally with my excrement’. It is not surprising then that Armado thinks the King is ‘a noble Gentleman’.
          To demonstrate their class, Armado, the Pedant, the Curate and others decide to entertain the Princess with a pageant of ‘delightful ostentation’ featuring ‘Nine worthies’. The number 9 is the number in the Sonnets that represents the adolescent inadequacy of the immature idealism of the Master Mistress or youth. In their excitement at allotting parts, they parade a barrage of unintended sexual puns, with Moth all the while stirring them along. When Dull the constable is asked why he has ‘spoken no word all this while’ he sums up the nonsense of the exchange by admitting.

    Nor understood none neither sir. (5.1.1882)

          The Pedant, not to be bested, wants to include him.

    Alone, we will employ thee. (5.1.1883)

          Dull agrees to add the 1 to their 9, by providing the music for the dance in the hay. Shakespeare uses the numbering later refined in the Sonnets, where the 9 of the Master Mistress is added to the 1 of the Mistress. Here in a mock, Dull provides the music. Music in the Mistress sonnets is identified as the source of the octave and hence of all music. (The editors once again emend the ‘alone’ to ‘allons’, revealing their ignorance of the Sonnet philosophy.)
          When the Princess enters at the beginning of scene 2 she predicts, on the basis a gift from the King, that she and the other Ladies will be ‘rich’. The King has sent her a broach in which a ‘lady’ is surrounded by ‘diamonds’, tacitly acknowledging the priority of the female over the male. The broach symbolism anticipates the accession of the Princess within the King’s walls.
          The Princess also has the King’s sonnet, and the other poems by him covering both sides of a page. With the King willing to put his seal ‘on Cupid’s name’, Rosaline observes.

    That was the way to make his god-head wax:
    For he hath been five thousand years a Boy. (5.2.1897-8)

          With a double pun on the Love-God Cupid and the biblical ‘God’, the King’s poetry shows an enlargement (waxing) of his sexual interest away from ‘god-like’ recompense’ to ‘much love in rhyme’. After all, for ‘five thousand (biblical) years’, the God of the Bible has been a pre-pubescent ‘Boy’ or a virginal adolescent. Katherine continues the ‘argument’, in what the Princess calls a ‘set of Wit’, by deepening the allusions to biblical conceits.

    Ay, and a shrewd unhappy gallows too. (5.2.1899)

          If the King is now waxing, for five thousand years his beliefs represented a waning of the ‘god-head’ in an ill-tempered (shrewish) and cunning (shrewd) and unhappy (distressing) tightening of the noose or gallows around the sexual basis of life. Rosaline adds.

    You’ll nere be friends with him, a killed your sister. (5.2.1900)

          If God has been a ‘Boy’ for five thousand biblical years, then for that time he has displaced the female from her natural priority over the male, and so effectively ‘killed the sister’ of every woman. Because the archetypal ideal biblical woman is a virgin, and the archetypal ideal Christian woman a nun, the heavy, melancholy spirit of the biblical woman (represented as such in so much art) dies young, unable to be a ‘granddam’. By contrast Rosaline, with her ‘light, merry, nimble, stirring spirit’, is capable of moving the heart of the most ‘god-like’ men and will live long with progeny, and through her progeny.
          Because, for woman (and given full expression by Shakespeare in the Mistress sequence of the Sonnets), every ‘dark’ has its ‘light’, Rosaline asks Katherine.

    What’s your dark meaning mouse, of this light
    Word? (5.2.1905-6)

          As a woman she knows that the representation of herself as ‘light’ can hide from sight what is still ‘dark’ in life. Katherine agrees by avowing that Rosaline’s ‘dark beauty’ belies her ‘light condition’. The ‘argument’between the women echoes Shakespeare’s achievement in the plays. He combines the dark and light of every character to convey a more realistic understanding of the dynamic of life.

    Rosaline. We need more light to find your meaning out.
    Katherine. You’ll mar the light by taking it in snuff:
    Therefore I’ll darkly end the argument.
    Rosaline. Look what you do, you do it still i’th’ dark.
    Katherine. So do not you, for you are a light Wench.
    Rosaline. Indeed I weigh not you, and therefore light.
    Katherine. You weigh me not, O that’s you care not for me.
    Rosaline. Great reason: for past care, is still past cure. (5.2.1908-15)

          The Princess recognises the logical nature of their ‘argument’ by interjecting,

          Well bandied both, a set of wit well played. (5.2.1916)

          Rosaline now has the ‘verses’ from Berowne of which she says the dark letters on the page resemble her, but his description of her in words does not. Katherine’s quip that Rosaline resembles a black ‘B’, draws the response that Katherine resembles a red letter, which makes her face look full of ‘Oes’. The Princess appreciates the reference and responds ‘A pox on that jest’. To the Princess’ question Katherine says that Dumaine had sent her gloves and verses of ‘hypocrisy, vilely composed (and) profound simplicity’. Maria received pearls, and a letter ‘too long by half a mile’.
          To which, wittily, the Princess encapsulates their relation to the males.

    We are wise girls to mock our Lovers so. (5.2.1948)

          And Rosaline responds,

    They are worse fools to purchase mocking so.

    So pertaunt like would I o’er sway his state,
    That he should be my fool, and I his fate. (5.2.1949-58)

          Rosaline knows that her priority over the male gives her logical insight into his ‘fate’. The Princess captures Berowne’s predicament.

    None are so surely caught, when they are catched,
    As Wit turned fool, folly in Wisdom hatched.
    Hath wisdom’s warrant, and the help of School,
    And Wit’s own grace to grace a learned Fool? (5.2.1959-62)

          To which Rosaline invokes the logic of increase.

    The blood of youth burns not with such excess,
    As gravity’s revolt to wantons be. (5.2.1963-4)

          The excesses of idealistic fervour, when ‘gravity revolts to wantonness’, produce results far worse than the sexual activities of hot youth. The acceptance of the logic of increase, or the priority of increase over truth and beauty, ensures that attempts to isolate truth and beauty apart from the body dynamic does not lead to the transition from idealised goodness to absolute evil. Rosaline identifies the pivotal relationship between natural logic and ‘god-like recompense’ on which Shakespeare bases his plays. In Measure for Measure, for instance, Angelo reveals the hypocrisy of his simplistic goodness when he takes evil advantage of Isabella’s nun-like expectations.       Maria indicates her awareness of the Lord’s inconsistencies.

    Folly in Fools bears not so strong a note,
    As fool’ry in the Wise
    , when Wit doth dote:
    Since all the power thereof it doth apply,
    To prove by Wit, worth in simplicity. (5.2.1965-8)

          The pervasiveness of argument throughout Love’s Labour’s Lost, and the instances of mock argument in which traditional syllogistics is parodied, is ‘crossed’ with the self-conscious use of theatrics when Boyet advises the Ladies that the Lords approach ‘disguised, armed in argument’. The Lords use of disguise parallels the inadequacy of their arguments, just as apologetics masks the illogicalities of biblical dogma by disguising it in traditional syllogistics.
          The Princess, noting the change in the Lords from ‘Saint Denis to Saint Cupid’, asks ‘what are they’ who ‘charge’ the Ladies with the force of words. Boyet reveals their plan to disguise themselves as Muscovites (or ‘Masked Wits’) to ‘advance their love suits’. To mock their deceit the Princess suggests the Ladies also disguise themselves. Shakespeare shows that the Lords and Ladies in Love’s Labour’s Lost stand for real life possibilities for which the mocks of theatre are but a way of ‘charging’ the sensibilities of the audience with words to advance his argument.
          The Princess summarises the situation.

    The effect of my intent is to cross theirs:
    They do it but in mockery merriment,
    And mock for mock is only my intent.
    Their several counsels they unbosom shall,
    To Loves mistook, and so be mocked withal
    Upon the next occasion that we meet,
    With Visages displayed to talk and greet. (5.2.2030-6)

          The exchange continues between Rosaline, the Princess and Boyet, as the Princess spells out her determination to re-establish the priority of the female over the male, which has been sundered by the King’s ‘god-like’ pretences. Rosaline anticipates the Sonnets when she expresses the need for the males to return to the female (‘To make theirs ours’) because the female is already a unity (‘and our none but our own’).

    Rosaline. But shall we dance, if they desire us to’t?
    Princess. No, to the death we will not move a foot.
    Nor to their penned speech render we no grace:
    But while ’tis spoke, each turns away his face.
    Boyet. Why that contempt will kill the keeper’s heart.
    And quite divorce his memory from his part.
    Princess. Therefore I do it, and I make no doubt,
    The rest will ere come in, if he be out.
    There’s no such sport, as sport by sport o’er thrown:
    To make theirs ours, and ours none but our own.
    So shall we stay mocking intended game,
    And they well mocked, depart away with shame. (5.2.2037-48)

          When the ‘maskers’ enter, Moth opens the scene and reveals the distance between conventional understanding based on apologetics, and Berowne and Boyet’s natural logic. When Moth substitutes ‘backs’ for ‘eyes’ Berowne corrects him, and then Boyet corrects his ‘Sun-beamed eyes’ to ‘Daughterbeamed eyes’. In the ensuing banter between the Ladies and the Lords, (because the Lords do not represent themselves truthfully they cannot be taken seriously), Rosaline says her face is like the ‘Moon’ not the ‘sun’. (This is in accordance with the 28 Mistress sonnets that represent the lunar cycle.) With self-parody she exhibits a fickleness equivalent to the phases of the moon.
          Boyet sums up the extended exchange.

    The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen
    As is the Razor’s edge, invisible.
    Cutting a smaller hair than may be seen,
    Above the sense of sense so sensible.
    Seemeth their conference, their conceits have wings,
    Fleeter than arrows, bullets wind, thought, swifter things. (5.2.2172-7)

          The Lords depart to the great mirth of the Ladies. But Boyet advises that the Lords are about to return undisguised to try again. The Ladies resolve to embarrass them further by pretending not to have recognised them disguised as Muscovites.
          When the Lords enter, Berowne reveals his grudging admiration for Boyet. Berowne is gaining an appreciation of the significance of the female in the natural logic. While he retains many of the macho affectations of the egotistical male he quickly assesses the implications of the effect of love on the King and other Lords. He sees that Boyet has already achieved the state of mind in relation to the Ladies to which his own realisations are taking him. As the play progresses toward its philosophic resolution, where the females take complete command of the males, Berowne’s speech regarding Boyet is significant.

    This fellow picks up wit as Pigeons’ peas,
    And utters it again when God (Jove) doth please
    He is wits Pedlar and retails his Wares,
    At Wakes, and Wassails, Meetings, Markets, Fairs.
    And we that sell by gross, the Lord doth know,
    Have not the grace to grace it with such show.
    This Gallant pins the Wenches on his sleeve.
    Had he been Adam, he had tempted Eve.
    He can carve too, and lisp. Why this is he,
    That kissed away his hand in courtesy.
    This is the Ape of Form, Monsieur the nice,
    That when he plays at Tables, chides the Dice
    In honorable terms:Nay he can sing
    A mean most meanly, and in Ushering
    Mend him who can: the Ladies call him sweet.
    The stairs as he treads on them kiss his feet.
    This is the flower that smiles on every one,
    To show his teeth as white as Whales bone.
    And consciences that will not die in debt,
    Pay him the due of honey-tongued Boyet
    . (5.2.2241-59)

          Boyet has the ‘god-like’ ease the King desired from the Lords’ retreat. He combines feminine and masculine traits effortlessly because he has reconciled his male ego with the priority of the female. The King signals the logical distance he is from such a mature resolution by his wishing ‘a blister on (Boyet’s) tongue with my heart’. But Berowne is focused on the lessons to be learnt.

    See where it comes. Behaviour what wert thou,
    Till this madman show’d thee? And what art thou now? (5.2.2263-4)

          When the King attempts to gain the upper hand with the Princess, she throws his vow to ‘God’ back in his face. She does so in the correct logical order by dismissing his reliance on the male God first, and then dismissing him in her own name. (By removing the commas after ‘God’ and ‘I’, editors alter the punctuation to lessen her assertion of priority over the male God.)

    This field shall hold me, and so hold your vow:
    Nor God, nor I, delights in perjur’d men. (5.2.2271-2)

          But the King accuses the Princess of the fault she has called his. His excessive lust for virtue has led to his breaking of an oath. She responds by saying he has inverted virtue and vice by vowing to his ‘heaven’ without ‘integrity’.

    King. Rebuke me not for that which you provoke:
    The virtue of your eye must break my oath,
    Princess. You nickname virtue: vice you should have spoke:
    For virtues’ office never breaks men troth.
    Now by my maiden honour, yet as pure
    As the unsallied lily, I protest,
    A world of torments I should endure,
    I would not yield to be your house’s guest:
    So much I hate a breaking cause to be
    Of heavenly oaths, vow’d with integrity. (5.2.2273-82)

          When Rosaline calls the Russians ‘fools’, Berowne acknowledges that her ‘jest’ is ‘dry’ to him, because he saw it coming. He accepts the logical significance of her ‘eye’ over ‘heaven’s fiery eye’.

    This jest is dry to me. Gentle sweet,
    Your wits make wise things foolish when we greet
    With eyes best seeing, heaven’s fiery eye:
    By light we lose light; your capacity
    Is of that nature, that to your huge store,
    Wise things seem foolish, and rich things but poor. (5.2.2300-5)

          Berowne, in an insight to which Shakespeare was to give profound logical formulation in the Sonnets, recognises the significance of the eyes in the dynamic of ‘nature’ and increase (‘store’). Only by using the correct logic based in nature is it possible to distinguish the wise from the foolish as truth and beauty receive their logical orientation from the increase dynamic out of ‘nature’. Berowne recognises his ‘poverty’ in wisdom.
          When Rosaline reveals that the Ladies were aware of the identity of the Muscovites, the King swoons and Berowne acknowledges the identification Shakespeare makes between the Lords and the Pedant and Curate. He ‘forswears’ their ‘perjury’, ‘ignorance’, ‘conceit’, ‘schoolboy’s tongue’, ‘hyperboles’, ‘figures pedantical’, and ‘maggot ostentation’. He exchanges his ‘white glove’, identified with the illogical singularity of ‘god knowing’, for ‘russet yeas and honest kersey noes’, or the logical dynamic of truth and beauty called ‘saying’ in the Sonnets. By beginning with the ‘Wench’ (5.2.2346) or the female, his love of her will be ‘sound’, without the ‘crack or flaw’ or inconsistencies of biblical apologetics, and ‘God’ help him otherwise.
          Rosaline insists (mocking him, ‘I pray you’), that he doubly be without (‘Sans, sans’) his reliance of the adolescent schoolboy tongue that is ‘godlike’. Berowne admits he is not yet free of ‘the old rage’ and puns on the name ‘Lord’ to indicate that the others are even less free. If Berowne recognises that it will take time to assimilate the implications of the natural logic manifested by the Ladies, he points out that they have already indicated their interest in the Lords by wearing the Lords’ ‘tokens’.

    Yet I have a trick
    Of the old rage
    . bear with me, I am sick.
    I’ll leave it by degrees
    : soft, let us see,
    Write Lord have mercy on us, on those three,
    They are infected, in their hearts it lies:
    They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes:
    These Lords are visited, you are not free:
    For the Lords tokens on you do I see. (5.2.2349-56)

          The Princess tests the King’s honesty further. If he claims he will stand by any oath because it is an oath, she demonstrates that an oath can be made to a person who is incorrectly identified. When the King realises he made an oath to Rosaline instead of the Princess, she quips that ‘God give thee joy of him’ because it was in God’s name that he falsely made his oath. Berowne also realises his mistake and, as has happened frequently in the play, identifies as the primary cause of all such deceit, the God/Christ of the ‘Christmas Comedy’. The Ladies grasp of ‘content’ or the basis of natural logic (‘content’ has this meaning throughout the Sonnets) enables them to ‘laugh’or make fun of the Lords when they wish to, or ‘when she’s disposed’.

    Neither of either, I remit both twain.
    I see the trick on’t: Here was a content,
    Knowing aforehand of our merriment,
    To dash it like a Christmas Comedy.
    Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight Zany,
    Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some Dick
    That smiles his cheek in years, and knows the trick
    To make my Lady laugh, when she’s disposed. (5.2.2398-405)

          Berowne, who thought he was getting the measure of the Ladies and particularly Boyet, is galled to realise he has been outwitted again and, in a bit of bad humour, has a cut at Boyet. The Ladies’ assignment of Berowne to a year of waiting with the other Lords at the play’s end is designed to complete his education in natural logic.
          Costard enters to announce the arrival of the ‘three worthies’. He banters with Berowne around the numbers three and nine. Both numbers represent a logical deficiency: the three of the Trinity, which needs 1 to make 4, and the 9 for the youth of the Sonnets who needs 1 to achieve unity or 10.
          When the King expresses embarrassment at having ‘unworthies’ play for royals, Berowne reminds him that they have already made complete asses of themselves, so could benefit from a display that casts them in a fairer light. The Princess also over-rules the King and cautions him that when ‘zeal strives to content’, the ‘contents’ can ‘die in the zeal of that which it presents’. To emphasise her point she invokes the increase argument.

    Their form confounded, makes most form in mirth,
    When great things labouring perish in their birth. (5.2.2463-4)

          The traditional ‘labours’ of philosophers to give credibility to Christian mythology is fatally undermined by their inability to acknowledge the logical implication that a mythical birth is not a natural birth. The Princess emphasises the point when Armado enters talking nonsense, unconsciously parodying the King and Lords. She asks,

    Does this man serve God? (5.2.2469)


    He speaks not like a man of God’s making. (5.2.2471)

          When Costard enters as Pompey a quip from Boyet has Berowne acknowledge a potential ally in understanding.

    Well said old mocker,
    I must needs be friends with thee. (5.2.2495-6)

          The Pedant then comes in as Judas Iscariot. Shakespeare allies Christ’s traitor with the academic philosopher who attempts to justify religion through prejudice and bad argument. The Pedant, after receiving a barrage of sexual innuendoes and witty word play from the Lords, adopts the attitude of so many academics who fall back on their dignity; ‘This is not generous, not gentle, not humble’ (5.2.2582).
          All the Lords, made fools of until now, join in poking fun at the simples. Then in the fray of words, Costard lets Armado know that Jaquenetta is two months pregnant to Armado. And further, Moth reveals that Armado carries Jaquenetta’s ‘dishcloth’ under his shirt ‘next to his heart’. Armado, the friend of the King who was to entertain them on their retreat, had already been sexually active with Jaquenetta and emerges in the play as the one who will increase before the others.
          The drama up to this point has been based on the inconsistencies of ‘godlike’ expectations, and reaches its climax with the revelation of Jaquenetta’s pregnancy. Shakespeare’s philosophy, based in nature and the sexual division in nature and the increase dynamic as the prior conditions for the logic of understanding as truth and beauty, is given its fulfillment in the fact that Jaquenetta is with child as a fact of nature, behind the mocking façade of the play. The irony is that a minor character is already pregnant unbeknown to the Kings and his Lords, the Princess and her Ladies, the Pedant, the Curate and even Armado.
          Marcade, the French ambassador, then arrives to announce the death of the Princess’ father, the King of France. The news of the King’s death immediately after the revelation of Jaquenetta’s pregnancy, exemplifies the logic of perpetuation by increase. The death of the King cuts short the argument of the play so that the players can prepare themselves for re-entry to the real world, a world where the fulfillment of their ‘loves’ will recover the logic for increase. In the 14 increase sonnets, Shakespeare specifically deals with the logical relation of birth and death, and the persistence of life with death as an event in the course of life. As Armado leaves he says he has ‘seen his day of wrong, through the little hole (vagina) of discretion’, and like a soldier he will do the right thing by Jaquenetta.
          The King reveals his continuing lack of awareness of the dynamic of life by insisting that the Princess (now Queen) stay rather than leave immediately. The Queen in reply excuses the ‘overboldness’ of her Ladies, but suggests that the ‘gentleness (of the Lords) was guilty of it’ (5.2.2693). The King’s reference to ‘time’ further expresses his remove from natural logic, and his appeal to the Queen as ‘the mourning brow of progeny’ is an ironic mockery of his ignorance of natural logic.
          As the Queen is not willing to entertain his selfish conceits, ‘I understand you not’, Berowne steps up to express in ‘honest plain words’ his less than perfect understanding of Shakespeare’s philosophy. In an attempt to gain the ear of the Ladies he transfers the Lords’ childish behaviour to Love or Cupid and, renewing his appeal to the ‘eyes’ against all evidence provided by the Ladies, he calls the Ladies’ eyes ‘heavenly’ that have looked into the Lords’ ‘faults’. Having misrepresented the logic of the eyes, he then makes the illogical presumption that the Ladies too were guilty by using their eyes to ensnare the Lords.
          But the new Queen will have none it. She says that the Ladies took the avowals of love at face value. The quality of the Lords’ logic, and the quality of the poetry used to express their loves, could allow them to meet ‘your loves in their own fashion, like a merriment’. She assigns the King for a period of twelve months to ‘some forlorn and naked Hermitage, remote from all the pleasures of the world’. Berowne, Dumaine and Longaville are each assigned by their ‘loves’ for the same period to allow for the reformation of their characters. When Berowne asks for reconsideration, because he thinks he understands the logic of the eye and would prefer to do a service for Rosaline’s ‘love’, she imposes a severer penalty by sending him not just to ‘the weary beds of people sick’ but to ‘visit the speechless sick’.

    Oft have I heard of you my Lord Berowne,
    Before I saw you: and the world’s large tongue
    Proclaims you for a man repleat with mocks,
    Full of comparisons, and wounding flouts:
    Which you on all estates will execute,
    That lie within the mercy of your wit.
    To weed this Wormwood from your fruitful brain,
    And therewithal to win me, if you please,
    Without the which I am not to be won:
    You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day,
    Visit the speechless sick, and still converse
    With groaning wretches: and your task shall be,
    With all the fierce endeavour of your wit,
    To enforce the pained impotent to smile. (5.2.2802-15)

          Berowne baulks at the task.

    To move wild laughter in the throat of death?
    It cannot be, it is impossible.
    Mirth cannot move a soul in agony. (5.2.2816-8)

          But Rosaline is resolute.

    Why that’s the way to choke a gibing spirit,
    Whose influence is begot of that loose grace,
    Which shallow laughing hearers give to fools.
    A jest’s prosperity, lies in the ear
    Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
    Of him that makes it: then if sickly ears,
    Deaf with the clamors of their own dear groans,
    Will hear your idle scorns; continue then,
    And I will have you, and that fault withal.
    But if they will not, throw away that spirit,
    And I shall find you empty of that fault,
    Right joyful of your reformation. (5.2.2819-30)

          Already Jaquenetta, and Armado in his way, have provided the play with its sense of continuity into the future. The play as a play has been a forum to address the logic of nature and the prejudices of biblical apologetics. The drama of the play concludes with Shakespeare’s recognition of the logical limitations of drama. Berowne notes the irony that twelvemonths are ‘too long for a play’.
          As the play closes Armado assures the Queen he will ‘hold the plough for Jaquenetta’s sweet love for three years’. He then presents the ‘dialogue’ between the Owl and the Cuckoo that ends the ‘show’. Armado has as his ‘spring’ a newly engendered life. But spring for the Lords is a time when their ideas of marriage are cuckooed, as they lead to a ‘winter’ of hibernation before they can enjoy their own spring with the Ladies.
          As Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were pregnant before they were married and, as the Sonnets place the logic of increase before ‘marriage’ (as do many of the plays), the first half of the song celebrates ‘the Cuckoo on every tree, that mocks married men’.

    The Cuckoo then on every tree,
    Mocks married men, for thus sings he,
    Cuckoo. Cuckoo, Cuckoo:O word of fear,
    Unpleasing to the married ear. (5.2.2864-8)

          Armado celebrates his living connection with natural logic. Armado’s colleagues, though, are going to experience a ‘winter’ listening to the wisdom of the owl, while ‘greasy Joan’ cools the pot, or the heat of women is turned down for a year.

    Then nightly sings the staring Owl,
    Tu-whit to who.
    A merry note,
    While greasy Joan doth keel the pot. (5.2.2893-6)

          Armado gleefully ends by telling the Lords they go ‘that way’ to serve their time, while he and Jaquenetta and the Ladies go ‘this way’.

    The relation of Love’s Labour’s Lost to the Sonnet template

    When Shakespeare published the Sonnets in 1609, they presented the definitive expression of his philosophy. Their consistency and coherence of expression came only after many years of reflection and refinement. The formative experiment of the two long poems, on the path toward the Sonnet philosophy, has already been considered.
          Although the long poems were sourced from Ovid and Roman history, they were adapted to express the principal elements eventually articulated in the Sonnet philosophy. The poems have been shown to be consistent with the Sonnet logic. By contrast, all previous attempts to appreciate the meaning of the poems has failed to account for their distinctive characteristics and failed to provide a consistent overview of their content.
          The reception history for Love’s Labour’s Lost has been similarly inadequate. While its current popularity suggests its ideas are becoming more relevant to a modern audience its performance on stage is still affected by major editorial interference in the original text. The interference goes well beyond accommodating the differences between the Quarto of 1598 and the Folio of 1623. The interference is due principally to a shortsighted persistence in reading Shakespeare’s works out of the inadequate Judeo/Christian paradigm. Any attempt to do justice to the play has lacked the consistent and comprehensive approach provided by the Sonnet philosophy.
          Now, for the first time in 400 years, the Sonnet philosophy has been applied to Love’s Labour’s Lost. Not only does the philosophy reveal a play written in full conformity with its basic principles, it also reveals a text far less corrupt than that derided by the academic editors of the last 300 years. Just as the reading of the Sonnets from the correct philosophic vantage reveals a text with only a handful of typographic errors, the relatively few errors in Love’s Labour’s Lost are explicable without affecting the meaning of the play. The denigration of the text and its compositors by academics has concealed their ignorance of Shakespeare’s meaning under the cover of textual analysis.
          The illogicality of biblical beliefs, as demonstrated many times by philosophers such as Hume over the last few centuries, is confirmed by editors and commentators who persist in using it to reduce Shakespeare’s works to the same level of inadequacy. The effect is doubled because the works of Shakespeare, and particularly the Sonnets, are the only complete critique and remedy for the inadequate paradigm.
          When editors approach Shakespeare, they sense a consciousness profoundly different from their own. But, instead of acknowledging its complete advance on their inadequate apologetics, they seek to denigrate it and the man whose wrote it by recognising as good only those portions they contrive to be expressions of biblical sentiment, and disparage or ignore those portions that seem alien to their beliefs.
          Love’s Labour’s Lost is a play of Shakespeare’s own invention that he wrote to trial an expression of his philosophy in a work for the stage. It shows clearly the Copernican or Darwinian advance of Shakespeare’s consistent logic over traditional inadequacies. The commentary provides a reading of the play in which all the elements have full meaning.
          The Sonnet philosophy detailed in Volume 1, and applied successively to all the sonnets in Volume 2, heralds a logic without expression in the philosophical literature. Because it is logically consistent with human life and understanding within nature it is not surprising that Love’s Labour’s Lost found no favour for the best part of 300 years and finds only a conditional favour today. After all, the full consequences of Darwin’s findings 150 years ago have not yet been assimilated into a culture still dependent on apologetics.

    Nature Template <i>Sonnet</i> Numbers

    Nature template (Sonnet numbers)

          If the major components of the Sonnet philosophy are compared with the structure and themes of Love’s Labour’s Lost the conformity is exact. Nature is the presiding entity in the play. Berowne mentions nature at a critical juncture in the action, natural common sense is preferred to ‘godlike recompense’, Berowne and Costard relentlessly parody biblical and Christian dogma, and such dogma is mocked in the caricatures that are the Pedant and the Curate.
          The principal characters in the play (the four women and the four men) represent the female and the male dynamic, with logical characteristics equivalent to the Mistress and the Master Mistress of the Sonnets. Consistent with the Sonnet logic, the females assert their priority over the males and demonstrate their priority with their superior judgment, their greater understanding of the nature of love, and by the control they exercise over the males at the end of the play. When Berowne mentions nature, he aligns it with the logical requirement to increase or ‘store’, and Jaquenetta and Armado have the last laugh by becoming pregnant out of wedlock, disregarding the strictures of biblical dogma.
          Throughout the play, the nature of truth and beauty is continually tied to the female dynamic, both through the demands of the Ladies and through Berowne’s appreciation of the logical significance of the ‘eyes’ for the derivation of his ‘doctrine’. The Princess gives a logical expression of the relation of beauty and truth or ‘fair’ as beauty and ‘fair’ as truth. Berowne introduces the Poet in the second half of his speech at 4.3, and the inadequacies of the ‘rival poets’ is evident in the poetry of the King and the other two Lords, and in the fantastical learning of the Pedant and Curate.
          It is only necessary to read the inadequate commentaries on Love’s Labour’s Lost, and the endless quibbles of the academic editors to appreciate that their woeful understanding had been parodied by Shakespeare in the Pedant, the Curate, and the King’s blindness to natural logic. Editors and commentators are made to seem inadequate in the face of Shakespeare’s brilliant logic. Love’s Labour’s Lost in advance identifies as ‘Muscovites’ or mocked wits those like Malone, Dryden, Johnson, Hazlitt, Eliot, Bloom, Wells, and so many others who do not understand the rules of engagement.

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    Roger Peters Copyright © 2005

    Introduction    Venus and Adonis    Rape of Lucrece    The Phoenix and the Turtle
        A Lover's Complaint    Love's Labour's Lost    Measure for Measure
    Macbeth    Twelfth Night    Henry VIII