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Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labour's Lost


by William Shakespeare

Love's Labour's Lost Theme of Cunning and Cleverness

In the world of Love's Labour's Lost, where men and women are kept apart, seduction takes the form of language. The men's wits are their version of a peacock's tail—it's all about getting the girl.

Intellectual conversations and witty banter are mating rituals indulged by nearly all characters that we meet. Prolonged volleys of wits establish sexual chemistry between two potential partners. Intelligence is also powerful, establishing status between characters. If you're not actual royalty, you've got to be the wittiest to stay on top.

Questions About Cunning and Cleverness

  1. Is cleverness an advantage or a liability—or both—when it comes to love?
  2. Who is cleverer—Berowne or Rosaline?
  3. Who is the cleverest character in the play?
  4. What is the relationship between wit and love in Love's Labour's Lost?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Berowne and Rosaline's increasing attraction to each other exhibits itself in their battles of wits.

The witty successes of Moth and Costard indicate Shakespeare's lack of class prejudice. He believed genius could be found anywhere.

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