Love's Labor's Lost


William Shakespeare

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Love's Labor's Lost Themes

Read our modern English translation.
Themes and Colors
Love Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Intelligence Theme Icon
Work, Pleasure, and Comedy Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Love's Labor's Lost, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


It is no surprise that the topic of love is central to Love’s Labor’s Lost. The entire plot of the play revolves around love and various characters’ attempts at courtship. Characters swear off love, talk endlessly about it, admit their powerlessness before it, and devote themselves entirely to its pursuit. But, somewhat ironically, while love is so important to the play, one of its central questions left unanswered is: what exactly is love? The…

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Men and Women

Men and women operate in separate groups for much of the play, largely because of Ferdinand’s oath to keep women out of his court. The main plot of the play centers around a group of four male companions (Ferdinand, Longaville, Dumaine, and Berowne) and a group of four female companions (the princess, Katherine, Maria, and Rosaline). Shakespeare is thus able to represent men and women as they socialize…

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One of the most notable features of Love’s Labor’s Lost is its exuberant use of language. Nearly every line contains some pun, a piece of wordplay, or a character’s overly literal misunderstanding of someone else’s language. Shakespeare’s play is a comedy, and all this wordplay serves the simple purpose of making the audience laugh. However, it also contributes to a deeper exploration of language. At first glance, puns and wordplay might seem to be marginal…

read analysis of Language
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Shakespeare’s play is filled with characters representing different kinds of learning, intelligence, and cleverness; and it tends to pit these different kinds of intelligence against each other. Characters repeatedly trade one-liners and clever quips in battles of the wits. Most of the wealthy, male characters exemplify traditional, formal education. Ferdinand and his men swear off of love, food, and sleep in order to devote themselves fully to study, seeing learning from books as the most…

read analysis of Intelligence

Work, Pleasure, and Comedy

At the beginning of the play, Ferdinand plans to dedicate all his time and energy to serious intellectual pursuits, denying all bodily pleasures. And the princess of France comes to visit him on an important diplomatic mission about the exchange of a territory. However, the rest of the play is filled not with serious business, but with merriment, jokes, and amusement. The king ends up caring less about negotiating with the princess than about entertaining…

read analysis of Work, Pleasure, and Comedy