Love's Labor's Lost

Berowne Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Probably the most clever of Ferdinand’s men, Berowne is reluctant to agree to the king’s oath from the start. However, he signs the oath when he sees how easy it is to weasel out of the agreement. He falls in love with the princess’ attendant Rosaline and, when asked by Ferdinand and his other attendants, provides a clever justification of breaking the oath for love. At the end of the play, Rosaline asks him to spend a year making people laugh with his wit at a hospital before continuing to woo her.

Berowne Quotes in Love's Labor's Lost

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

Therefore, brave conquerors, for so you are,
That war against your own affections
And the huge army of the world’s desires,
Our late edict shall strongly stand in force.
Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;
Our court shall be a little academe,
Still and contemplative in living art.

Related Characters: Ferdinand (speaker), Berowne, Longaville, Dumaine
Page Number: 1.1.8-14
Explanation and Analysis:

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O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,
Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.48-49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Item, If any man be seen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, he shall endure such public shame as the rest of the court can possible devise.

Related Characters: Ferdinand (speaker), Berowne (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.132-135
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

We must of force dispense with this decree.
She must lie here on mere necessity.

Necessity will make us all forsworn
Three thousand times within this three years’ space;
. . .
If I break faith, this word shall speak for me:
I am forsworn on mere necessity.

Related Characters: Ferdinand (speaker), Berowne (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.150-158
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.
Ah, good my liege, I pray thee pardon me.
Good heart, what grace hast thou thus to reprove
These worms for loving, that art most in love?
. . .
O, what a scene of fool’ry have I seen,
Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow, and of teen!
O me, with what strict patience have I sat,
To see a king transformed to a gnat!
To see great Hercules whipping a gig,
And profound Solomon to tune a jig,
And Nestor play at pushpin with the boys,
And critic Timon laugh at idle toys.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Ferdinand
Related Symbols: The Nine Worthies
Page Number: 4.3.158-178
Explanation and Analysis:

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O, we have made a vow to study, lords,
And in that vow we have forsworn our books.
For when would you, my liege, or you, or you,
In leaden contemplation have found out
Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes
Of beauty’s tutors have enriched you with?
Other slow arts entirely keep the brain
And therefore, finding barren practicers,
Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil.
But love, first learned in a lady’s eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain,
But with the motion of all elements
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye.
A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind.
A lover’s ear will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopped.
Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible
Than are the tender horns of cockled snails.
. . .
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were tempered with love’s sighs.
. . .
From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive.
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire.
They are the books, the arts, the academes
That show, contain, and nourish all the world.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Ferdinand, Longaville, Dumaine
Page Number: 4.3.312-347
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Write “Lord have mercy on us” on those three.
They are infected; in their hearts it lies.
They have the plague, and caught it of your eyes.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Ferdinand, Longaville, Dumaine
Page Number: 5.2.457-459
Explanation and Analysis:

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Judas I am—

A Judas!

Not Iscariot, sir.
Judas I am, yclept Maccabaeus.

Judas Maccabaeus clipped is plain Judas.

A kissing traitor.—How art thou proved Judas?

Judas I am—

The more shame for you, Judas.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker), Dumaine (speaker), Holofernes (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Nine Worthies
Page Number: 5.2.662-670
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:
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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:

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Our wooing doth not end like an old play.
Jack hath not Jill. These ladies’ courtesy
Might well have made our sport a comedy.

Related Characters: Berowne (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.947-949
Explanation and Analysis:

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Berowne Character Timeline in Love's Labor's Lost

The timeline below shows where the character Berowne appears in Love's Labor's Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
Ferdinand, the king of Navarre, speaks to his three lords Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine, about his plan to establish an academy at Navarre. Speaking of the... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
...to this promise and sign their names to the written agreement the king gives them. Berowne, however takes issue with the strictness of the agreement, which forbids them from seeing a... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Ferdinand says that Berowne has already sworn an oath to this effect. Berowne says that he would gladly study... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
Berowne continues to argue against the strict requirements of the oath, but when the king tells... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Berowne informs the king that he himself will have to break this oath immediately, as the... (full context)
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
Berowne asks if there will be any entertainment for them, confined to the court for three... (full context)
Men and Women Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
...and sentences Costard to a week of fasting, with only bran and water. Ferdinand sends Berowne to take Costard to Armado, who is to be in charge of carrying out Costard’s... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
...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. Hearing such praise, the princess... (full context)
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...his court, as if they were attacking enemies. Ferdinand then enters with Longaville, Dumaine, and Berowne. Ferdinand welcomes the princess, but she is offended at not being allowed into his actual... (full context)
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...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 snappy, witty... (full context)
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...of his court, even though she 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,... (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... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Berowne enters and Costard asks him how much a “remuneration” is worth (as if remuneration were... (full context)
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Berowne gives Costard some money, calling it a “guerdon” (reward). Costard mishears this as “gardon,” and... (full context)
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Berowne asks if he is now to be “a corporal” in Cupid’s army. He refers to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...tallest lady, 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)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...reads the letter, which is a poem praising someone’s beauty. It is the letter from Berowne to Rosaline. (full context)
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In the poem, Berowne says that though he will break his oath to Ferdinand, he will be faithful to... (full context)
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...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 exit to... (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... (full context)
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...hides. Longaville enters and laments that he will have to break his oath. Ferdinand and Berowne both hear him read part of a poem to Maria, before he tears the paper... (full context)
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...any woman, but that Maria is a goddess. Then, Longaville sees someone coming and hides. Berowne, Ferdinand, and Longaville each all overhear as Dumaine enters, bemoaning his love for Katherine. He... (full context)
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...for her. Dumaine is upset that he is breaking his oath, and wishes that Ferdinand, Berowne, and Longaville were in love, too. Just then, Longaville comes out of hiding and chastises... (full context)
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Ferdinand scolds both Dumaine and Longaville for violating their oaths, but then Berowne comes forth “to whip hypocrisy.” He criticizes all of the others, including the king. He... (full context)
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Berowne says that he feels betrayed and calls the others inconstant. Then, Jacquenetta and Costard enter,... (full context)
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...grabs the torn pieces of paper and puts them back together, seeing that it is Berowne’s handwriting. Berowne confesses that he is also in love. He says that the king and... (full context)
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Berowne says that it is hopeless to try to uphold the oath, and asks Ferdinand and... (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 beauty, and the others take turns creating clever lines describing... (full context)
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Berowne says that their oath was to study and that they learn more from their beloveds’... (full context)
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Berowne says that it was a foolish oath to abstain from women. He encourages everyone to... (full context)
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Ferdinand suggests they plan “some entertainment” to woo the French women. Berowne agrees and says that they should invite the women into the king’s court, before entertaining... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...love gifts. Rosaline has received a love letter along with a drawing of her from Berowne. Katherine has been given gloves from Dumaine, and Longaville has given Maria pearls and a... (full context)
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Mote, Ferdinand, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumaine arrive in Russian dress. The princess and her ladies put on their... (full context)
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Berowne evades the question and trades some witty quips back and forth with Rosaline. Ferdinand and... (full context)
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...The men arrive and Ferdinand asks where the princess is. Boyet goes to get her. Berowne says that Boyet is clever and “wit’s peddler.” Boyet returns with the princess, Rosaline, Katherine,... (full context)
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Berowne says that Rosaline sees wise things as foolish, and she replies that this means he... (full context)
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Berowne admits to the Russian disguise and promises to use no more deception, avowing his sincere... (full context)
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...of the Nine Worthies. He, however, calls it the “three Worthies,” to the confusion of Berowne. Costard explains that there are going to be three actors, who each play three characters.... (full context)
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...it announces the cast of the show. Costard enters first, as Pompey the Great. Boyet, Berowne, and Dumaine heckle him. Costard mistakenly calls himself Pompey the Big instead of Pompey the... (full context)
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Nathaniel enters as Alexander the Great. Berowne and Boyet again heckle the performer. Nathaniel leaves and Holofernes enters as Judas Maccabaeus along... (full context)
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Boyet, Dumaine, and Berowne continue to wittily tease Holofernes, until he leaves. Armado now enters, as the Greek hero... (full context)
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...Marcade arrives and tells the princess that he has unfortunate news: her father has died. Berowne tells all the actors of the Nine Worthies to leave, and says that “the scene... (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 your fair sakes have we neglected time, / Play’d foul play... (full context)
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...she will 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... (full context)
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Rosaline tells Berowne that she has heard of his reputation for wit. She tells him that “to weed... (full context)
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Berowne comments that the men’s “wooing doth not end like an old play.” As they have... (full context)