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Similarly, Margaret Loftus Ranald (1979) demonstrates how Elizabethan issues such as betrothals, contracts, premarital intercourse, impediments to marriage, and the marriage ceremony itself are examined by Shakespeare in many plays in a variety of ways.Ranald observes that marriages form the conclusion to every comedy and typically emphasize social harmony; that marriage is treated both humorously and tragically in Shakespeare's poems; that in the tragedies, the subversion of marital relationships results in some form of disaster; and that in the last plays, Shakespeare places less of an emphasis on the particulars of marital law and instead celebrates "the kind of virtuous love that ends in marriage." R. White (essay date 1981) SOURCE: "Shakespeare's Mature Romantic Comedies," in 'Let Wonder Seem Familiar': Endings in Shakespeare's Romance Vision, Humanities Press, Inc., 1985, pp. [In the following essay, White studies the endings of Shakespeare's romantic comedies, maintaining that the playwright experiments with combining the finality of a comic ending with the "endless" nature of a romantic ending.] Love's Labour's Lost is another attempt by Shakespeare to write the kind of romantic comedy pioneered by Lyly, where the ending is qualified and open. 736-40) Even after sober declaration of love from the men, the ladies are still not able to treat the proposals except as 'pleasant jest and courtesy, As bombast and as lining to the time.' In Lyly's fashion, a compromise is struck.
It seems a paradox in the light of unashamed fictiveness of this genre, but he is also representing something more "realistic" than we find in a comedy where Jack hath Jill and all will be well. They must accept the brazen uncertainties of the future before committing themselves to the world-without-end bargain of marriage.
The little songs sung by the Worthies after the action, a timely lightening of the tone, continue the disengagement from the play's golden world. Love's Labour's Lost is Shakespeare's first successful attempt to square up the moral problems raised by the narrative with the necessity for an ending.
Gajowski notes that the women, like the speaker in Shakespeare's sonnets, possess "the courage to love despite awareness of the vicissitudes of human existence." The romantic comedies treat love a bit differently than these tragedies. In Love's Labour's Lost, for example, the courtships of the couples are postponed when a death is announced; the men are required by their beloveds to undergo a period of self-examination before the relationships may resume. Levin (1985) observes that in Shakespeare's mature comedies, romantic elements are challenged by "antiromantic" elements.
In these works, the conflict between love and fortune is often emphasized, Levin notes.
Despite the taint on marriage by the specter of cuckoldry or by other subversions, marriage nevertheless occupies a central role in Shakespeare's work.
Evelyn Gajowski (1992) examines the qualities shared by Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Desdemona (Othello), and Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra), maintaining that all three women give themselves freely to their beloveds without expecting or demanding any reciprocal emotion. White (1981) demonstrates the way in which the finality of comic endings is often questioned in Shakespeare's romantic comedies.By drawing attention to the play as artifice, Shakespeare reminds the audience that it too is about to leave the playful world for one more serious.The hints pointing to the necessity of leaving the golden world for the brazen gather as the end comes in sight.She advises the lusty suitors: Certainly Shakespeare in Love's Labour's Lost is exhibiting a general wariness about the authenticity and validity of fictions, yet he is ironically, also drawing on a fictional model in doing so.Romance includes in its vision many separations and reunions, and it is often arbitrary which of the two events will be chosen to end the work.Comedy, on the other hand, characteristically closes with happy harmony. A new attitude towards time's open-endedness, and a new mode of expression (a ballad statement by an uncourtly, rustic voice outside the play world, rather than the dramatic utterance of a character in context), takes us further outside the self-contained fictional world of the play about protected university-types.With the arrival of Marcade, a messenger whose forebears lie in Greek tragedy, Shakespeare stops writing comedy and begins to write romance. ' suggests the underlying idea that everything is 'fit in his place and time' (I. The direction is appropriate to the overall ideas presented by the play, for the men have discovered that the cloistered attempt to discover truth is barren and offending against the law of nature, because, if they had listened, they would have known that 'it is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh'.Cook highlights the social, legal, and economic punishments exacted for participating in unsanctioned behavior related to betrothals and marriages and then explores Shakespeare's representation of such irregular behavior in his plays.In conclusion, Cook comments that as Shakespeare treats this type of behavior in both negative and positive ways, there is no easy way to assess his own opinions on the matter.The pageant of the Nine Worthies seems calculated to relax the mood into the festivity of betrothal. Welcome, Marcade; But that thou interruptest our merriment. I am sorry, madam; for the news I bring Is heavy in my tongue. These ladies' courtesy Might well have made our sport a comedy. Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth an' a day And then 'twill end. " (I.i.159), and the King replies that Armada the Spaniard will serve their turn: (I.i.177-8) The low-born characters are eventually used mercilessly for the "sport" of the courtly, when their humbly offered entertainment of masque is mocked off the stage in derisive laughter and in a manner which is "not generous, not gentle, not humble" (621).Little resistance poses itself to the courtships, since the ladies' coyness is, we find from their conversations, a teasing test of the men rather than a denial of their suits. To emphasize the point, after this touching line from Holofernes, the shadows lengthen on the world of play: "A light for Monsieur Judas! The courtiers have played loose with their oaths, have attempted to play with the lives of the women, have condescendingly played with the low-born characters, and they have played with language, turning every word inside out for a joke.