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MonkeyNotes-Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare
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Act V, Scene 1

In this short scene, Armado asks Holofernes and Nathaniel to help him prepare "some delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant, or antic, or firework" with which to amuse the French company, explaining that the King requested it. Holofernes suggests they enact the Masque of "The Nine Worthies" and offers to play three of the roles himself; the rest of the characters will be played by Costard, Dull, Armado, Moth, and Nathaniel.


Notes

This scene is interesting because of the superb display of language and humor displayed in the meeting between Armado and Holofernes. Previously in the play, each has revealed himself to be highly pretentious and affected in speech and manner, but in different ways. Holofernes is a bookworm, full of his own learning and education. Armado is a braggart given over to bombastic speech and an extreme awareness of his own supposed chivalry and romance. Both completely lack awareness of their own foolishness. Moth, however, is a clear-sighted observer who judges both with precision and accuracy and mocks them with dry sarcasm. Dull is totally unable to follow either man's speech, a fact that makes its own statement about his intelligence. While not much of the plot is advanced in this scene, Shakespeare does continue his thematic mockery of the pedantic and showy writers of his time.

Some character development is also completed in this scene, especially in the person of Holofernes. Like many fools, he is blind to his own flaws, but extremely aware of those of others. Ironically, he says of Armado, "He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument. I abhor such fanatical phantasms, such unsociable and point-device companions." He is totally oblivious to the traits he has in common with Armado. Hypocritically and ever the fool, Holofernes makes a show of praising Armado for his speech.

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