Love's Labour's Lost, Shakespeare, Southampton, Sonnets


Unlike Shakespeare's other comedies, Love's Labour's Lost ends unresolved. A marriage does not unite the characters in happiness; rather, the characters separate with little expectation of reuniting; like Beron says, "Jack hath not Jill" (5.2.866-67). Many scholars have mapped out the history of the play and studied the play textually and contextually, but their findings do not relate directly to the ending of the play. Exploring the context in which Shakespeare wrote the play reveals reasons for why he caused his only original play to end unresolved. (A) Historically, Shakespeare wrote the play during a season of plague, causing many people's stories to end abruptly with death. Love's Labour's Lost ends with the death of the father of the Princess of France. (B) The lack of marriage could be due to a hopeless relationship between Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton. Shakespeare may have been venting his frustrations or even trying to communicate to the Earl through the characters in the play. © Evidence has been found that Shakespeare may have written a sequel that resolved the play, though scholars argue over the existence of Love's Labour's Won. Looking at the context creates reason and understanding for the play's unresolved ending that helps the reader recognize why Shakespeare wrote the unhappy ending. Knowing why Shakespeare made the ending unresolved does not reverse the unhappy sentiments, but it does allow the reader to understand Shakespeare's life, the time period in which he wrote the play, and how these circumstances affected Shakespeare's writing.


Intensive reading, discussion, and (in some sections) viewing of plays from the comedy, tragedy, romance, and history genres.

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ENGL 382