Alliteration in “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

LovesLaboursLostI saw in the Entertainment section of the newspaper that the local Shakespeare company was putting on a performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost done as if it were a 1980’s John Hughes film. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, and since I had not read the play before, I quickly read it before going to see the performance.

The interpretation worked really well. The actors did a great job summoning up images of the Brat Pack. And the whole premise of the play, that the guys will swear off women for three years to engage in serious studies, really lent itself well for the interpretation.

As far as the text goes, it was good, but not great like some of Shakespeare’s other comedies. I would not place it in the ranks of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Taming of the Shrew. I was also puzzled by the ending. It didn’t seem to end as a Shakespearean comedy should end, in my opinion. The fact that the Princess’s father dies, and that all the men have to spend a year in abstinence just seemed strange. I expect marriage at the end of a Shakespearean comedy, not death and abstinence. I’m still scratching my head here.

Now the one thing that I did find very interesting about this play was the use of alliteration. Even before I started reading, the title struck me as alliterative and I wondered whether this would be a literary device used throughout the play. I decided to watch for the use of alliteration and note instances. I discovered, rather quickly, that my hunch had been right, and I soon had to stop noting lines that employed alliteration. Here are just a couple from Act II.

“Some merry making lord belike, is’t so?”


“Fair fall the face it covers.”

This one from Act IV is probably my favorite.

“The preyful Princess pierc’d and prick’d a pretty pleasing pricket.”

The entire play is full of this type of wordplay, and for me, that was the most interesting aspect. It’s definitely a fun and whimsical play, and worth reading, it’s just not a “WOW” play for me. But let’s face it, even an “OK” Shakespeare play is much better than a lot of stuff that’s out there in print. Cheers!



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3 responses to “Alliteration in “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

  1. I will definitely need to catch this show! I saw a pretty awful performance of “Love’s Labours Lost” in college and am looking forward to seeing a better one. I’ll have to re-read the play, of course; the one and only time I ever read it was in the late 80s/early 90s, in preparation of the awful performance mentioned above. Thanks for posting about this–I hadn’t check the Montford Park website in a while and didn’t realize they were doing this one.

    • Stuff Jeff Reads

      Hi waterfall. Thanks for the comment. I’m interested in finding out whether or not you like the MPP’s version. Let me know your thoughts after you see it. Cheers!

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