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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.
The stroke he uses to solve the problems inherent in the form is daringly simple, for he simply denies the credibility of the conventional happy ending, almost gratuitously going out of his way to provide a complicating factor. The ladies will mourn for a year in France, the men are to undergo certain taxing experiences such as living in a hermitage or a hospital, to learn genuine self-denial and understanding of people's problems.
The direction of our expectations in the play is clear and conventional. After the educative process, the courtship may (or may not) begin afresh. 862-6) Berowne's rueful comment is more than just a statement about form, since it points towards a moral lesson which the men ought to have learned during the action.
Marriage—typically viewed as the goal of romantic love—is also treated ambiguously by Shakespeare.
In many of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies, marriages are frequently disrupted by the husband's usually irrational fear of being cuckolded.
The action seems to be moving towards a declaration of marriage. The play ends with chastened self-awareness on the part of the men and reluctant withdrawal on that of the women: BEROWNE. They have throughout treated life as a play and other people as merely objects for their own amusement.
From the opening, there is little doubt that the sterile vow will crumble before the shattering power of love, and this is what happens. Our wooing doth not end like an old play: Jack hath not Jill. After the vow to study has been taken, Berowne asks, "But is there no quick recreation granted?It is worth remembering, however, that he could in fact find many prototypes for such an ending in romance. In Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, Sir Marhaus, Sir Gawain, and Sir Uweyn make an oath to separate from their chosen damsels and to return "that day twelve monthe"."And so they kissed and departed." (Gawain's lady is lost and the other two, at the end of the twelve months, effect a permanent separation, which shows that we cannot be so sure of happiness in the world of romance as in comedy.) At the end of The Parliament of Fowls, the female eagle, wooed by three males, asks Nature to allow her to postpone her choice for a year.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.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.Nothing could be further from the pontifical words of the King at the beginning when declaring the plan for the academe. It is also his first considered attempt to fuse the comic expectation of an ending with the romance tendency towards endlessness.Instead of lofty abstractions like fame, death, time, honour and eternity, the songs modestly depict rapid vignettes of real life: the sight of flowers and the sounds of birds in spring, physical hardship in winter, evidenced by cold hands, frozen milk and red noses, with their homely, cosy compensations like the prospect of roasted crab-apples sizzling in a pot of ale while greasy Joan keels the pot. Inconclusive as it is, the play-world is brought to an end with a regretful explanation that the future is too long for a play.