Study Guide

Love's Labour's Lost Act 4, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 2

Read the full text of Love's Labour's Lost Act 4 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.


  • We're introduced to two new characters, the schoolmaster Holofernes and Sir Nathaniel, the curate (country preacher).
  • Holofernes is learned and enjoys talking. If he hasn't said something six different ways (four of them in Latin), he hasn't said it at all.
  • Nathaniel seems to be a fan of this sort of thing. He compliments the schoolmaster's speech but disagrees with his assessment of the kill.
  • Dull misunderstands their flowery language and references, which Nathaniel says in understandable since he's not educated. (That's the "he hath not eat paper"/"he hath not drunk ink" bit.)
  • The three exchange a few more riddles (which mostly go over Dull's head), until Holofernes, inspired, offers "an extemporal epitaph on the death of the deer" (4.2.59).
  • Holofernes has at it, delivering a little speech full of alliteration and wordplay. Nathaniel is impressed; Dull not so much. 
  • They are interrupted by Costard and Jaquenetta, who want them to read her letter from Don Armado.
  • Well of course it's the wrong one! Nathaniel reads aloud Berowne's letter to Rosaline.
  • Holofernes looks it over and gives it a big fat shrug. Nothing special, in his opinion. And was it really meant for Jaquenetta?
  • She thinks so. But Holofernes reads the address and sees "Rosaline." He advises Jaquenetta to take the letter to the King. She exits with Costard.
  • Holofernes insults Berowne's letter a bit more and invites Nathaniel and Dull to dinner. They all exit.