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Love's Labour's Lost

Love's Labour's Lost


by William Shakespeare

Love's Labour's Lost Theme of Men and Masculinity

The men in Love's Labour's Lost are young and full of ambition. They want to be great men, strong, smart, and famous. They want to be Hercules and Solomon, all at once. They just don't quite know how to get there.

This is basically the conversation that happens: "Maybe if we do nothing but study for three years?" "And lift weights?" "No girls, okay?" "Yeah, then we'll totally be Hercules."

But they're young. And they like girls. So they spend the play learning that they can be strong, smart, famous, and in love—and will be better men for it. This play calls into question what it means to be a man and how gender roles should be defined—although, at the end, we seem to have more questions than answers. How do you think Love's Labour's Lost conceptualizes masculinity?

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. How does Shakespeare contrast the behavior of men in love versus women?
  2. Is love emasculating in this play?
  3. How does Armado's character mimic and parody the noblemen?
  4. How do the men in Love's Labour's Lost understand love? Do the different lords seem to define love differently? What about the ladies?

Chew on This

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

The behavior of the characters defies typical gender stereotypes. The men are impetuous and irrational in their actions; the women collected and logical.

In Love's Labour's Lost, the noblemen, prone to extreme behavior, learn a dose of temperance from the women.

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