Love's Labor's Lost

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One of the princess’ ladies who comes with her on the visit to Ferdinand. She is able to hold her own in witty back-and-forths with Berowne, who falls in love with her. At the end of the play, she tells Berowne to spend a year at a hospital, trying to make the sick laugh, before continuing to woo her.

Rosaline Quotes in Love's Labor's Lost

The Love's Labor's Lost quotes below are all either spoken by Rosaline or refer to Rosaline. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of Love's Labor's Lost published in 2005.
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

And I forsooth in Love! I that have been love’s whip,
A very beadle to a humorous sigh,
A critic, nay, a nightwatch constable,
A domineering pedant o’er the boy,
Than whom no mortal so magnificent.
This wimpled, whining, purblind, wayward boy,
This Signior Junior, giant dwarf, Dan Cupid,
Regent of love rhymes, lord of folded arms,
Th’annointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
Liege of all loiterers and malcontents,
Dread prince of plackets, king of codpieces,
Sole imperator and great general
Of trotting paritors—O my little heart!
Am I to be a corporal of his field
And wear his colors like a tumbler’s hoop!
What? I love, I sue, I seek a wife?
. . . It is a plague
That Cupid will impose for my neglect
Of his almighty dreadful little might.
Well, I will love, write, sigh, pray, sue, groan.
Some men must love my lady, and some Joan.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Rosaline
Related Symbols: Love Letters
Page Number: 3.1.184-215
Explanation and Analysis:

Berowne has just given Costard a love letter to deliver to Rosaline. Now, alone on stage, Berowne reflects on how possessed he has become by love, which he finds ironic, since he has previously been so critical of love. He cries out against Cupid with a long list of harsh adjectives suggesting at first Cupid's incompetence and then his power, until Berowne breaks off with "O my little heart!"

He then asks if he is going be "a corporal" in Cupid's army, playing with the common notion that love is like a battlefield. In this metaphor and Berowne's context, love is combative, violent, and destructive, and Berowne is just a foot soldier following the orders of a higher power. He goes on to call love a "plague," and we can remember Boyet's description above of a lover as "infected." Berowne believes he is inflicted by love because of his neglect of Cupid's "almighty dreadful little might," an incredible phrase which simultaneously shows Cupid's power and small size. Berowne ends by admitting to himself that he does love Rosaline, and must act accordingly: "I will love, write, sigh, pray, sue, groan." This list of single-syllable actions shows rhythmically the repeating, dramatic nature of the different steps in the course of falling in love. Berowne also says that some men must love women like Rosaline, and others must love less-esteemed women, and the steps and trouble he must take to woo Rosaline are more difficult because she is a member of a royal court.

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Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

If love make me forsworn, how shall I swear to love?
Ah, never faith could hold, if not to beauty vowed!
Though to myself forsworn, to thee I’ll faithful prove.
. . .
If knowledge be the mark, to know thee shall suffice.
Well-learned is that tongue that well can thee commend.
All ignorant that soul that sees thee without wonder;
Which is to me some praise that I thy parts admire.
. . .
Celestial as thou art, O pardon love this wrong,
That sings heaven’s praise with such an earthly tongue.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Nathaniel (speaker), Rosaline
Related Symbols: Love Letters
Page Number: 4.2.126-143
Explanation and Analysis:

This scene begins with Holofernes, Nathaniel, and Dull discussing the Princess's hunt and their own intelligence, the first two making fun of Dull for not knowing latin. Then Jacquenetta and Costard enter, with the latter carrying the letter he thinks is from Armado for Jacquenetta, but is actually the letter from Berowne for Rosaline. The excerpt here contains three sections of the letter, which contains verses of love poetry. Berowne attempts to use poetry, rhyme, and skillful language to woo Rosaline, but as is becoming common in this play, the words reach the wrong audience with the wrong effect.

In the opening lines, he assures Rosaline that although he is breaking the oath he made with Ferdinand by talking to her, he will never break oaths to her and will always be faithful. Here Berowne seems aware of the irony in pledging his faithfulness while simultaneously breaking a vow. In the next section, Berowne says that knowing Rosaline will give him all the knowledge he needs, and that "well-learned is the tongue" that can properly praise her. This point foreshadows the argument he will make in the next scene, and that will justify everyone breaking the oath: true knowledge and study comes from women and love as much as from books and fasting. Finally, Berowne concludes his poem by apologizing for describing such a "celestial" woman with his meager "earthly tongue," a common poetic technique in which the author acknowledges that his or her subject matter is beyond mortal capacity for language.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

I will not love. If I do, hang me. I’ faith, I will not. O, but her eye! By this light, but for her eye I would not love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By heaven, I do love, and it hath taught me to rhyme, and to be melancholy.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Rosaline
Page Number: 4.3.8-13
Explanation and Analysis:

Berowne enters and begins this scene alone, launching into a soliloquy which he delivers in prose. It is notable that he speaks in prose here, since we have just heard Nathaniel read his love poetry in the preceding scene. In these lines, Berowne considers his love for Rosaline. He at first refuses to love, saying "If I do, hang me." He plays on the common trope that love is dangerous, and that his love is killing him.

But Berowne then exclaims, remembering Rosaline's beautiful eyes. If only it weren't for those eyes, Berowne might have been able to escape her love. He then admits to himself that he has been lying to himself and to the world. He swears that, "By heaven, I do love, and it hath taught me to rhyme, and to be melancholy." Despite his desire and refusals to fall in love, he cannot help that he has fallen for Rosaline and her eyes. He has become a stereotypical lover, writing poetry and possessed by the melancholy that overtakes those who are denied their beloveds. Berowne finishes his speech when he sees Ferdinand coming and decides to hide.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

We are wise girls to mock our lovers so.

They are worse fools to purchase mocking so.

Related Characters: The Princess of France (speaker), Rosaline (speaker), Ferdinand, Berowne
Page Number: 5.2.63-64
Explanation and Analysis:

The Princess, Katherine, Rosaline, and Maria have all received gifts from the men courting them. The ladies proceed to make fun of the gifts and the men, continuing their pattern of constantly displaying their wits, their intelligence, and their desire for humor. Here the Princess says that they are "wise girls to mock [their] lovers so," reversing the stereotypical role of women in courtship. Rosaline responds that the men are "worse fools to purchase mocking so," at once reinforcing the Princess's claim that the women are wise and adding an insult to the men. She goes on to joke how she wishes she had an opportunity to make Berowne fawn after her and do ridiculous tasks, reveling in the possibility of more mockery. Below, the women will devise a scheme to further make fun of and embarrass their gentleman suitors, continuing to one-up the men in terms of wit and levity.

The gallants shall be tasked,
For, ladies, we will every one be masked,
And not a man of them shall have the grace,
Despite of suit, to see a lady’s face.
Hold, Rosaline, this favor thou shalt wear,
And then the King will court thee for his dear.
Hold, take thou this, my sweet, and give me thine
So shall Berowne take me for Rosaline.

Related Characters: The Princess of France (speaker), Ferdinand, Berowne, Rosaline
Page Number: 5.2.133-140
Explanation and Analysis:

As the women talk about how foolish their lovers are, Boyet enters and informs them that the men plan to come in disguised as Russian ambassadors. With this knowledge, the Princess concocts a plan to "task" (make fun of) the "gallants." The ladies will all wear masks, and will refuse to show the men their faces. They will also switch gifts, so that when the men enter, they will mistake the women for each other and court the wrong people. This plan will result in embarrassment for the men, who will whisper private words of love to women they aren't in love with. The effect of her plan, says the Princess a few lines later, is to mess up the plan of the men, and to mock them (in merriment) for the trick that they planned to play on the women.

We have received your letters full of love;
Your favors, the ambassadors of love;
And in our maiden council rated them
As courtship, pleasant jest, and courtesy,
As bombast and as lining to the time.
But more devout than this in our respects
Have we not been, and therefore met your loves
In their own fashion, like a merriment.

Our letters, madam, showed much more than jest.

So did our looks.

We did not quote them so.

Related Characters: Longaville (speaker), Dumaine (speaker), The Princess of France (speaker), Rosaline (speaker)
Related Symbols: Love Letters
Page Number: 5.2.852-862
Explanation and Analysis:

Ferdinand begs the Princess to not let the bad news interrupt their courtship and love, and Berowne explains that the men have broken their oaths for the sake of love. But here, the Princess explains that the women never took the courtship seriously. They received the love letters and the gifts—"ambassadors of love," typical tokens that might signal affections—but the women believed in this case they merely indicated "pleasant jest, and courtesy." For this reason, the women have met the love from the men in what they believed to be the fashion of the courtship—"like a merriment." In other words, the women here claim they believed the men have only been joking the whole time, framing the entire romance as comedy instead of genuine passion. The men all quickly respond that they meant "much more than jest" and were attempting to be genuine.

Oft have I heard of you, my Lord Berowne,
Before I saw you; and the world’s large tongue
Proclaims you for a man replete with mocks,
Full of comparisons and wounding flouts,
Which you on all estates will execute
That lie within the mercy of your wit.
To weed this wormwood from your fruitful brain,
And therewithal to win me, if you please,
Without the which I am not to be won,
You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day
Visit the speechless sick, and still converse
With groaning wretches; and your task shall be,
With all the fierce endeavor of your wit,
To enforce the pained impotent to smile.

To move wild laughter in the throat of death?
It cannot be, it is impossible.
Mirth cannot move a soul in agony.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Rosaline (speaker)
Page Number: 5.914-930
Explanation and Analysis:

Ferdinand, Dumaine, and Longaville have asked the Princess of France, Katherine, and Maria for their love, and each woman has given a similar response: wait a year, and then try courting me (since the Princess needs a year to mourn her father and her ladies follow suit). Rosaline gives Berowne a longer, more specific answer, excerpted here.

Rosaline says that she knows Berowne has a reputation for a sharp wit and a tendency for "comparisons and wounding flouts," puns and jokes and insults. In order to put this wit to good use and "weed this wormwood from" Berowne's "fruitfull brain" (that is, get the meanness out of Berowne's intelligent mind), Rosaline instructs him to spend the next year visiting hospitals. There he will converse with those who are too sick to speak (speechless sick), and use his wit to try and make them laugh and smile. She says outright that only by this task will he win her heart.

Berowne responds that it is impossible "to move wild laughter in the throat of death," and says that "mirth cannot move a soul in agony." The merging of humor and the darker, more serious matters of illness and death will have the effect of dulling the sharper edges of Berowne's wit and making him more suitable for Rosaline. We can also note that this "impossibility" has been demonstrated possible by Shakespeare, who has introduced a death in the end of a comedy and has delayed the typical comedic ending by a year filled with sadness.

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Rosaline Character Timeline in Love's Labor's Lost

The timeline below shows where the character Rosaline appears in Love's Labor's Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 1
Men and Women Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
The princess of France enters with her attendants: Boyet, Katherine, Rosaline, and Maria. Complimenting her beauty, Boyet reminds the princess to be charming toward Ferdinand, as... (full context)
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...and “glorious in arms.” Katherine says that Dumaine is “a well-accomplished youth” with much wit. Rosaline tells the princess about Berowne, whom she describes as skilled with words, witty, and merry.... (full context)
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...wants to welcome her as a good host, but cannot violate his own oath. Meanwhile, Rosaline and Berowne flirt with each other, having recognized each other from a dance. They trade... (full context)
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...is “denied fair harbour in my house,” then leaves. Berowne trades more witty quips with Rosaline, and Dumaine then asks Boyet what Katherine’s name is, calling her “a gallant lady,” before... (full context)
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...love with her, as evidenced by the way he spoke to and looked at her. Rosaline calls Boyet a “love-monger” and Maria calls him “Cupid’s grandfather.” (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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...says he hasn’t even told him what the favor is yet. He tells Costard about Rosaline and asks him to deliver her a letter. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...with a head. Costard tells the princess that he has a letter from Berowne for Rosaline. Boyet takes the letter and sees that it is addressed to Jacquenetta. (full context)
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The princess tells Costard that he has mixed up his letters. Everyone but Maria, Rosaline, Boyet, and Costard leaves. Boyet and Rosaline joke about hunting: she says that she is... (full context)
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Rosaline and Boyet sing part of a song together, and then Rosaline leaves. Maria says that... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...letter, which is a poem praising someone’s beauty. It is the letter from Berowne to Rosaline. (full context)
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...says that though he will break his oath to Ferdinand, he will be faithful to Rosaline. He says that if the point of the oath is knowledge, he will gain enough... (full context)
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...it. He reads the top of the letter and sees that it is addressed to Rosaline, from Berowne. He tells Jacquenetta to bring the letter to Ferdinand, and she and Costard... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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Alone, Berowne considers his love for Rosaline, saying, “it kills me.” He swears he will not love her, but then remembers her... (full context)
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...asks Ferdinand and the others to break it with him. He describes his love for Rosaline and how beautiful she is. The king says that Rosaline is nothing but “an attending... (full context)
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Ferdinand criticizes Rosaline’s dark complexion, saying “black is the badge of hell.” Berowne maintains his opinion of her... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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The princess, Katherine, Rosaline, and Maria all examine the gifts they have received from their respective admirers. From Ferdinand,... (full context)
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After a playfully witty exchange between Rosaline and Katherine, conversation turns again to the group’s love gifts. Rosaline has received a love... (full context)
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...that Berowne has composed, but they turn their backs to the men. Mote leaves, and Rosaline has Boyet ask Berowne what the men’s intentions are. Berowne says that he and his... (full context)
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Berowne evades the question and trades some witty quips back and forth with Rosaline. Ferdinand and his men play some music and ask the ladies to dance, but they... (full context)
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The princess wonders what they should do if Ferdinand and his men return undisguised. Rosaline suggests that they tease them by talking about a group of foolish Russians who were... (full context)
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...they were just visited by “a mess of Russians.” Ferdinand tries to act surprised, and Rosaline describes the Russians as fools. (full context)
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Berowne says that Rosaline sees wise things as foolish, and she replies that this means he must be very... (full context)
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...the Russian disguise and promises to use no more deception, avowing his sincere love for Rosaline. Ferdinand asks the princess how he can make up for his “rude transgression,” and she... (full context)
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...be available for his courtship. Maria similarly tells Longaville to wait a year. Berowne asks Rosaline what her response to his suit is, and she gives a slightly longer answer. (full context)
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Rosaline tells Berowne that she has heard of his reputation for wit. She tells him that... (full context)