Love's Labour's Lost
Rich or poor, the men in the play need people to look up to. The motif of heroes recurs again and again – go to "Shout Outs" for a running list. At one point Armado asks Moth what other great men were lovers. At another point, Berowne excuses his love by comparing himself to Hercules. The men seem to want to reassure themselves that their behavior is OK, that they're still big dogs. But are the men of Love's Labour's Lost heroes? Judging from the disastrous Pageant of the Nine Worthies, we'd say not. Shakespeare enjoys lampooning the men and reminding us that they are simply human.