Berowne (beh-REWN), a witty, sophisticated young lord in the court of King Ferdinand of Navarre. Although he joins his monarch’s idealistic academy, he warns his companions of the folly of study for its own sake and advises them to seek wisdom in the contemplation of feminine beauty. He delights in words, exchanging puns and rhymes with his friends and waxing rhapsodic when he falls in love. He meets his match in Rosaline and swears that he will henceforth woo with “rustic yeas and honest kersey noes.” She orders him to temper his ironic wit with sympathy; he must spend the next year jesting in hospitals.
Rosaline (ROHZ-uh-lin), one of the charming ladies in waiting to the princess of France. Clever and sparkling, she whets her mind in verbal battles with Boyet and spars endlessly with Berowne, who is continually overcome by her wit. She is the first of William Shakespeare’s bright, confident heroines, the prototype for Beatrice, Viola, Portia, and Rosalind.
Ferdinand, the king of Navarre, an idealistic young ruler who intends to win everlasting fame by establishing a Platonic academy devoted to study and ascetic living. The appearance of the princess of France on a diplomatic mission quickly disperses his noble goals as he and his lords promptly fall in love and turn their attention to sonnets, masques, and gifts. Brought suddenly to Earth by the news of the death of the...
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