Love's Labor's Lost


William Shakespeare

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Love Letters Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Love Letters Symbol Icon
Berowne and Armado both write letters to their beloveds and, unwisely, entrust them to Costard to have them delivered. Costard delivers the letters to the wrong people, giving Berowne’s letter to Jacquenetta and Costard’s to Rosaline. Along with Ferdinand’s written oath and the love poems of some of the male characters, these letters are an important instance of writing in a play that explores the intricacies of language. As they don’t accomplish what they are intended to and don’t reach their intended audience in the way their writers wished, they can be seen as symbolizing the instability and difficulties of language itself. All words can be seen as similar to these letters: they are sent out from their speaker for a purpose but often received in the wrong way. This doesn’t mean that language and writing are completely ineffective or don’t work, but rather that they work too much: their words often work in more ways than a speaker or writer intends.

Love Letters Quotes in Love's Labor's Lost

The Love's Labor's Lost quotes below all refer to the symbol of Love Letters. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Love's Labor's Lost published in 2005.
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Remuneration. Why, it is a fairer name than “French crown.” I will never buy and sell out of this word.

Related Characters: Costard (speaker)
Related Symbols: Love Letters
Page Number: 3.1.149-150
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

By heaven, that thou art fair is most infallible, true that thou art beauteous, truth itself that thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous, truer than truth itself, have commiseration on thy heroical vassal. . . . Shall I command thy love? I may. Shall I enforce thy love? I could. Shall I entreat thy love? I will.

Related Characters: Boyet (speaker), Armado (speaker)
Related Symbols: Love Letters
Page Number: 4.1.68-89
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

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:
Get the entire Love's... LitChart as a printable PDF.
Love's Labor's Lost PDF

Love Letters Symbol Timeline in Love's Labor's Lost

The timeline below shows where the symbol Love Letters appears in Love's Labor's Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Scene 1
Love Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
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Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon free Costard and bring him so that Armado can have him take a love letter to Jacquenetta for him. Mote asks if Armado is going to try to woo Jacquenetta... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
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...informs him that he has been freed only on the condition that he delivers a letter from Armado to Jacquenetta. He gives Costard “remuneration” in the form of a coin for... (full context)
Language Theme Icon
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...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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Intelligence Theme Icon the 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... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
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Nonetheless, Boyet reads out the letter, written by Armado. In over-wrought language, the letter describes Jacquenetta’s beauty and (in a very... (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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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Jacquenetta and Costard enter. She gives Nathaniel a letter that Costard gave her, that is supposedly from Armado, and asks Nathaniel to read it.... (full context)
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...Nathaniel read the poem’s meter wrong, and examines it. He reads the top of the letter and sees that it is addressed to Rosaline, from Berowne. He tells Jacquenetta to bring... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...he feels betrayed and calls the others inconstant. Then, Jacquenetta and Costard enter, carrying Berowne’s letter. Berowne tries to leave, but Ferdinand stops him. Costard says that he and Jacquenetta have... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...and Katherine, conversation turns again to the group’s love gifts. Rosaline has received a love letter along with a drawing of her from Berowne. Katherine has been given gloves from Dumaine,... (full context)