Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Loves Labours Lost

                                                              Backstreet's Back
Tiffany, Alisia, Christina and Jed
English 318: Shakespeare 
Editors Edition

Loves Labours Lost is a romantic comedy written by William Shakespeare. It was written between 1595 to 1596 and was first published on (1598). The play follows The King and his three lords as they attempt to court  the Princess of France and her three maidens. Initially, the King and his Lords agreed to not see, speak or come in contact with any women for scholarly goals. The King and his lords eventually and almost immediately  fall in love with The Princess and her maidens. This leads to comedic acts of secrecy within their fraternity, crossdressing, role/gender reversal and mixed messages. Themes such as love, power, and the use of cunning and cleverness create the narrative that drives the plot along. Love is one of main overlaying themes which drives the play. It is what pushes the King and his lords to do things for sake of love, such as dressing up as Russians and hiding secrets from one another. The women on the other hand use their cunning and cleverness to best the men at their own game. By doing so, they are able to manipulate the men on their own terms as a power play. The Princess seeks recognition that she can contend with men and looks for equal footing with them through sport. By the end of the play, the King and his lords do not have their feelings reciprocated from the Princess and her maidens. The Princess becomes the Queen due to her father’s passing and she with her maidens leave for France.

Love's Labour's Lost, can be seen  as a play that displays more than the average genre of a comedy play. Shakespeare subtly does more than comedy but also outlines each of the characters significance to the play. To begin with, each act and scene outlines specific genre twists and themes with the plot Shakespeare provides. The comedic fashion and other Shakespearian themes leaves us as editors supreme connections to the modern outside world. These connections strive through our pop culture references, which ration our selecting and annotating process of useful information to be drawn upon. Based upon each editors focus on the genres found, our process of connecting outer sources is limited to specific pieces in the play.



In Act 1, Jed connects the theme of fraternity and disillusion between the King and his lords through films and music. The fraternity, or loyalty between the King and his lords was symbolized by their vow to not come in contact with any women for the sake of intense study but, when the Princess and her maidens arrive, it causes them to break their pact. He uses the Netflix show Stranger Things to embody the fraternity between the King and his lords. The show follows four close friends who share a close bond to have it tested by the paranormal appearance of another girl named Eleven or El. Their friendship is tested when one of them becomes more fixated on El and her well being. The disillusion within the play pertains mostly towards the King, through his expectations versus the reality that Berowne points out about the Princess’s upcoming visit. What is meant by this is, the King expects himself and his lords to follow the pact verbatim without worrying that they will falter in their vow. But, the reality which Berowne tries to point out to the King that, it is not possible for them to follow through with the vow while not giving any form of attention to the Princess and her maidens. Jed uses the outro short story/poem of the song “That Power” by Childish Gambino to exemplify this. The source tells a story of a boy who becomes infatuated with a girl he spends an entire summer camp with. He decides to share his feelings with her with expectations for them to be reciprocated, but to his dismay, it does not turn out the way he wanted or expected. This relates to the King expecting him and his lords to follow through


    In Act 2, Christina connects the themes of pride and honesty to popular culture songs and music. Her clips show how prideful men hide their true feelings when it comes to their romantic interests. The men in Love Labours Lost had romantic feelings for the princess and her friends but due to their pledge they couldn't reveal them.  The 90’s girl group Brownstone made a song called “Foolish Pride”. The lyrics “don't let foolish pride get in the way of a good love, how could you let me walk  away outside your door when there’s so much you wanted to say? How could you pretend you could ignore all the feelings that true love has made”. These lyrics relate to when the King and his friends first meet the princess and her friends.

          In Act 3, Tiffany connects the themes of miscommunication and humiliation to pop culture films and music. For example, the film Atonement relates to the scene where a character mixes up letters to be delivered and delivers the wrong draft to the person intended, causing confusion. With these tremendously large mistakes of miscommunication and humiliation, the plots change immensely for both characters. Don Armado wrote a letter to Jaquenetta confessing his love and Costard delivered it, causing obscene amounts of confusion.Don Armado’s letter is sent to the wrong lady, giving her the wrong impression. Robbie, is seen as a as a psychotic, sexual deviant by the women he admires.  Both Robbie and Don Armado are heavily affected by the shortcomings of their own misfortune. In Atonement, it is Robbie’s own mistake in packaging the wrong letter to Cecilia, delivered by Briony. Costard, in his own vices, makes the mistake of switching the letters on his own. It is seen that in both plots miscommunication then leads to humiliation by one simple lapse in judgment.

In Act 4, Alisia makes connections to the themes of love and the honor behind friends. The lords made a promise to not fall in love or seek women; the promise were made between all three men and was not meant to be broken, unfortunately all men seeked love and found women that they would later fall in love with. In the scenes from “How I Met Your Mother” we see a scene where both men explain the theory behind “the bro code”; a code followed by many men that one should respect and honor the pact between friends and in the scene from “Grey’s Anatomy” we see the effects of what occurs when a pact between friends are broken; which can be seen when Dr. Shepherd and Dr. Sloan get into a fight over a broken truce between friends. Another important theme represented throughout this scene is love. Berowne decides to profess his love through a letter that is later read out loud; in a seen from from Kal Ho Naa Ho Aman reads aloud a love entry written in the diary of his friends to the women that he loves.  Berowne’s love for Rosaline gives him the courage to finally stand up to the king with a profound speech where he professes his love. In a scene from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania Rakesh profess his love for Kavya (his love interest) to her father; proving his point as to why he is the right man for her. Also I believe acceptance is a theme as well because the king finally realizes that the oath to focus on studies was what got in the way of accepting what they were feeling for these women. In a scene from  Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge  Simran’s father realizes that he could not be the one who stood in the way of her true love and in return accepted there love and peacefully let her go into the arms of her true love.

In Act 5, Tiffany also makes the connection of the themes identity swapping and trickery to other popular culture references. For example, in The Parent Trap, the main characters swap places in their lives to spend time with their estranged other parents. Annie and Haley switch places at summer camp, seizing the opportunity to finally meet their estranged parents. The switch in this instance, is seen as a form of trickery. They go to great lengths to disguise themselves as one another. This action in relation to the Princess and her ladies also switch places in order to trick the men into thinking they are eachother. The Princess and her ladies actions also display actions of trickery toward the men they try to fool. Both the film and play display these central themes in the sense that characters have acted as another for one's own self pleasure.

We feel that each of these references tie closely to each act in the sense that popular culture is equally defined from Shakespeare's time and now. Each act references popular culture and how the plot can be seen as influenced or closely related to Shakespeare's work.

We believe that the target audience for this project are undergraduates but also women undergraduates as well. Students just entering college especially we believe would be a targeted audience because the project is easily relatable to undergrads especially based on the references being used. Women have are usually always viewed as weak; however the women in this play have completely different characteristics, women particularly have an upper hand towards men but also throughout the references we used we also believe that they would be easily relatable to those who are trying to understand this play and can use those references to help better understand this play. This play can also be relatable to men who undergraduates as well; we believe so because of the relationship between all three Lords. Promise made betweens the Lords and King were broken; men tend to live by a code of respect and promise that one friend makes to another. Also this is relatable on a romantic level for men who struggle to have a relationship with their significant other when elders become involved and secret have to be hidden.  Those who are just entering college would be more relatable or would be easier understood because they could relate to the pop culture references.


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