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Quotes

Quote #1

but I must attend his majesty's command, to
whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection. (1.1.1)

From the very beginning, we get the sense that the older folks don't think the kids of the younger generation are capable of making their own life decisions. Here, we find out that since Bertram's dad has died, Bertram has become the ward of the king of France. Basically, that means that the king is Bertram's legal guardian until he's old enough to manage his own money and personal affairs. Being a ward also means that Bertram has to marry whoever the king says. As we know, this doesn't turn out so well for Bertram. Is Shakespeare criticizing the system of wardship?

Quote #2

KING
He hath arm'd our answer,
And Florence is denied before he comes:
Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to see
The Tuscan service, freely have they leave
To stand on either part.
Second Lord Dumaine
It well may serve
A nursery to our gentry, who are sick
For breathing and exploit. (1.2.3)

The king is too tired and worn out to get involved in a foreign war, but he says that it's fine with him if any of the young noblemen want to get involved. This passage makes it clear that warfare is a young man's game. At the same time, it also suggests that young guys only like to fight because they're restless; it's a good way for them to blow off steam. Is that the kind of people you'd want defending your country?

Quote #3

Youth, thou bear'st thy father's face;
Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
Hath well composed thee. Thy father's moral parts
Mayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris. (1.2.5)

When the king of France greets Bertram, the first thing he says is that Bertram looks just like his dad. Then he adds that he hopes Bertram also inherited his dad's "moral parts." In other words, Bertram is expected to live up to his father's reputation; that's not always an easy thing to do.

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