Foul play Introduction
I'm Berowne. I'm a bit of a class clown, but I also take the truth really seriously. I always say what's on my mind and people listen to me. And you know what I think?
Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief;
And by these badges understand the king.
For your fair sakes have we neglected time,
Play'd foul play with our oaths: your beauty, ladies,
Hath much deform'd us, fashioning our humours
Even to the opposed end of our intents. (5.2.748-753)
Who Said It and Where
Berowne is a big deal in Love's Labour's Lost. He's second in command to the King and keeps him sharp. He's creative, impulsive, anarchic, and articulate. And he's really gifted with language. Have you ever met someone who is so witty and quick that he's got a retort ready before you've even thought of something to say? Yep, that's Berowne.
You might say Shakespeare is always interested in language, and you'd be right. But in Love's Labour's Lost, he is obsessed with it. So Berowne is kind of a superstar when it comes to wordplay and puns. Berowne and his three buddies take a vow to study for three years, and not see women. And, what do you know? Four beautiful French women show up at their door. We'll let you guess what happens next.
That's right, each of the men secretly writes love letters and exchanges love tokens with their own hand-selected lady. And what do you know? None of them chose the same gal, so everyone is paired up. It's all very "I love you more." "No, I love you more." Hearts, flowers, candy—you know the drill. Eventually, the men find each other out. But here's the catch: they can't really get mad at their friends for breaking the vow when each of them broke it as well.
In the this scene, the Princess and her ladies enter the grounds and compare gifts and letters that the men have given them. They make fun of the long letters full of exaggerated flattery.
Of course the women have a point. The men have used some pretty ridiculous ways of telling the women they are beautiful and wonderful and all that jazz. But Berowne doesn't take this mocking lightly. He can always be counted on to have an opinion. And he shares his here, bringing the phrase "foul play" into the world for the very first time.