chapter  15
Transfer of Title in Love’s Labor’s Lost: Language, Individualism, Gender
ByKatharine Eisaman Maus
Pages 19

William Carroll and Keir Elam discuss Love's Labors Lost in terms of sixteenth-century Neoplatonic linguistic philosophy, popularized in Elizabethan England as part of a new self-consciousness about the expressiveness and literary potential of the vernacular. In Harley Granville-Barker's account, Loves Labors Lost seems the symptom of a Shakespearean artistic pubescence: 'To many young poets of the time their language was a new-found wonder; its very handling gave them pleasure. The amazing things it could be made to do!'. The possibility of a woman inhabiting such roles, however, does function to cut social facts loose from biological ones and to blur or complicate the significance of gender difference. Many critics have noticed that the aristocratic women in Loves Labors Lost seem more 'serious' than their male counterparts about the ways language can be used - a seriousness evident in the attitudes they express toward language rather than in any plain-style austerity of usage.