Love's Labor's Lost

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The Princess of France Character Analysis

The princess comes to visit Ferdinand on an official diplomatic mission from France, concerning the exchange of the territory of Aquitaine. But after an initial meeting with Ferdinand, most of her time is spent fending off his advances. The princess is very clever and outwits her host, pretending not to realize it is Ferdinand and his men in disguise when they come to her dressed as Russian ambassadors, and getting her ladies to pretend to be each other behind masks, in order to trick Ferdinand and his men. In the final scene of the play, the princess’ fun is put to an end by the serious news of her father’s death.

The Princess of France Quotes in Love's Labor's Lost

The Love's Labor's Lost quotes below are all either spoken by The Princess of France or refer to The Princess of France. 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 2, Scene 1 Quotes

If my observation, which very seldom lies,
By the heart’s still rhetoric, disclosed wi’ th’ eyes,
Deceive me not now, Navarre is infected.

With what?

With that which we lovers entitle “affected.”

Related Characters: The Princess of France (speaker), Boyet (speaker), Ferdinand
Page Number: 2.1.240-244
Explanation and Analysis:

The Princess of France has arrived with her attendants, Boyet, the only man in her company, and three ladies: Katherine, Rosaline, and Maria. Boyet is initially sent to court ahead, and Ferdinand and his men eventually greet the Princess and her ladies, apologizing that the women must sleep in the fields. Within the interaction the women display their dazzling, sharp wits, and the men all flirt. As they leave, each asks Boyet for one of the women's names.

After the departure of the men, the women begin making clever jokes with each other, but the Princess says they would make better use of their intelligence and gift of language in a "civil war of wits" with Ferdinand and his men. After this assertion, Boyet makes the observation quoted here. He says that, "by the heart's still rhetoric, disclosed wi' th' eyes... Navarre [Ferdinand] is infected." Here he touches on two tropes describing love: first, it is rooted in language and rhetoric. We have already seen this develop in Armado's thinking. Second, love is communicated and seen in the eyes.

To the suggestion Navarre is infected, the Princess responds with the simple, "with what?" Boyet responds by completing his wordplay: "With that which we lovers entitle "affected," meaning love. Thus Boyet suggests that Ferdinand is in love with the Princess, and at once continues their game of wordplay, puns, and witticisms.

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Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

The very all of all is—but sweetheart, I do implore secrecy—that the King would have me present the Princess, sweet chuck, with some delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant, or antic, or firework.
. . .
Sir, you shall present before her the Nine Worthies.
. . .
Where will you find men worthy enough to present them?

Related Characters: Armado (speaker), Holofernes (speaker), Nathaniel (speaker), The Princess of France
Related Symbols: The Nine Worthies
Page Number: 5.1.109-125
Explanation and Analysis:

After failing to present himself as intellectual, Armado tells Holofernes and Nathaniel that Ferdinand is planning on making some sort of theatrical production to impress the Princess. This production (or "delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant, or antic, or firework") will make a play within the play, and will mirror and (self-ironically) mock Love's Labor's Lost itself. Armado asks what he should prepare and present.

Holofernes suggests that they present "the Nine Worthies," a pageant of nine famous, heroic men from ancient and Biblical to medieval times. This production follows the pattern which has developed in the play, where men, feeling self-conscious or emasculated by love, remind themselves of the great men of history and lore who have loved before them. Nathaniel then asks where they will ever find men "worthy enough" to play the Nine Worthies, prompting Holofernes to cast himself, Armado, Nathaniel, Costard, and Mote in the play, noting that he will play three parts himself. This production is ultimately a hysterical failure which prompts the women to say that, of course, these men were not worthy to portray the Worthies.

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.

White-handed mistress, one sweet word with thee.

Honey, and milk, and sugar—there is three.

Nay then, two treys, an if you grow so nice,
Metheglin, wort, and malmsey. Well run, dice!
There’s half a dozen sweets.

Seventh sweet, adieu.
Since you can cog, I’ll play no more with you.

One word in secret.

Let it not be sweet.

Thou grievest my gall.

Gall! Bitter.

Therefore meet.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), The Princess of France (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.246-257
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Berowne, disguised as a Russian, is speaking to the Princess of France, whom he believes to be Rosaline. The two exchange witty quips, and the Princess, whose plan is working flawlessly, outwits and and outspeaks her suitor. Berowne begins by calling her "white-handed mistress," white (along with pink or red) being one of the classical colors evoked in European love poems. He then requests "one sweet word" with her.

The quick-witted Princess uses his language against him, listing "honey, and milk, and sugar" as three literally sweet words, denying his intention. When Berowne tries to match her by naming three more sweets to make half a dozen, she responds cleverly with, "seventh sweet, adieu," continually shutting him down. The two complete each other's lines and rhymes in shorthanded verbal sparring, trying to outwit and flirt with one another. Beyond the humor in the puns and jokes, the scene is also funny because Berowne is flirting with the wrong woman.

God save you, madam.

Welcome, Marcade,
But that thou interruptest our merriment.

I am sorry, madam, for the news I bring
Is heavy in my tongue. The King your father—

Dead, for my life.

Even so. My tale is told.

Worthies away! The scene begins to cloud.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), The Princess of France (speaker), Monsieur Marcade (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Nine Worthies
Page Number: 5.2.790-797
Explanation and Analysis:
Everyone has become completely captivated by the play and their desire to enjoy its humor. Costard and Armado are preparing to duel, and the audience members (within the play) are joking that the characters which Costard and Armado are playing are going to fight. But Marcade suddenly interrupts the pure merriment and comedic high point with a more serious, tragic note: the King of France (the Princess's father) is dead. We can note that before he can say this news, the Princess prophetically predicts that he is "dead, for my life." Upon this knowledge, Berowne ends the play within the play and banishes the actors with "Worthies away! The scene begins to cloud." This line can be seen as meta-theatric, as the very scene in Love's Labor's Lost has become clouded with bad news and the introduction of a tragic element. Here we also begin to get the indication that this play will not end in the classic comedic form of happy marriages with all loose ends tied up.

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.

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The Princess of France Character Timeline in Love's Labor's Lost

The timeline below shows where the character The Princess of France 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... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
The princess asks her attendants about the lords that have agreed to Ferdinand’s vow to study for... (full context)
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Boyet returns and tells the princess that Ferdinand plans to have her and her attendants camp out in the field outside... (full context)
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Ferdinand apologizes and explains that he has “sworn an oath,” about which the princess teases him, taking advantage of his dilemma: he wants to welcome her as a good... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
Ferdinand reads a letter from the princess’ father offering a sum of money for the territory of Aquitaine. He says that it... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...says he will be reasonable when he sees these papers. He promises to make the princess welcome and comfortable outside of his court, even though she is “denied fair harbour in... (full context)
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Maria tells Boyet about Berowne, who is a constant jokester. They trade witticisms, until the princess tells them to stop “this civil war of wits” and save their cleverness for Ferdinand... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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The princess, her ladies, Boyet, and a forester are hunting. The princess says that she and her... (full context)
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The princess says that she will match her beauty with “merit,” by killing a deer “for praise.”... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
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...love for Jacquenetta. Armado compares himself to a lion seeking a lamb for prey. The princess laughs at the ridiculous letter. Boyet informs her that Armado is a Spaniard at Ferdinand’s... (full context)
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The princess tells Costard that he has mixed up his letters. Everyone but Maria, Rosaline, Boyet, and... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Love Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
The princess, Katherine, Rosaline, and Maria all examine the gifts they have received from their respective admirers.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
...of how foolish their lovers are, and Boyet enters, “stabb’d with laughter.” He tells the princess and her ladies that Ferdinand and his men are planning to visit them disguised as... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
...whom he believes is her beloved. Ferdinand talks with Rosaline, believing her to be the princess. Berowne talks to the princess, thinking she is Rosaline. Dumaine and Longaville talk to Maria... (full context)
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The princess wonders what they should do if Ferdinand and his men return undisguised. Rosaline suggests that... (full context)
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Ferdinand greets the princess and tells her that she is welcome now in his court. The princess declines, saying... (full context)
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...are preparing to fight, though, a messenger from France named Marcade arrives and tells the princess that he has unfortunate news: her father has died. Berowne tells all the actors of... (full context)
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Ferdinand begs the princess not to let “the cloud of sorrow” disrupt “love’s argument.” Berowne tells the ladies, “for... (full context)
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The princess says that she and her ladies assumed the men’s avowals of love were all “pleasant... (full context)