Love's Labor's Lost "Some Men Must Love My Lady, And Some Joan"

William Shakespeare

"Some Men Must Love My Lady, And Some Joan"

Context: Act III of Love's Labour's Lost reveals love affairs beginning to spring up between the men close to Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and the ladies attending the Princess of France. Berowne, one of the men, employs Costard, a clown, to deliver a love letter for him to the lady he admires. After Costard leaves, Berowne begins a soliloquy on love and the fact that he is now involved in it. Then he sketches the negative qualities of the lady he loves and somewhat laments the fact that he has been attracted by the headstrong one in the group. Still, he plans to woo her in an earnest and ardent manner because this is the lady he is in love with. He thus philosophizes that some men just have to fall in love with the sort of woman who has aristocratic inclinations and ideas of courtly love. In a footnote to his edition of the play, G. B. Harrison tells us that the name "Joan" is a general term referring to "a country wench." Thus Berowne must also be lamenting that he did not fall in love with a country wench who would not require such wooing and attention. Love would be far simpler with "Joan."

. . .
A whitely wanton, with a velvet brow,
With two pitch-balls stuck in her face for eyes,
Ay, and by heaven one that will do the deed,
Though Argus were her eunuch and her guard.
And I to sigh for her, to watch for her,
To pray for her, go to! It is a plague
That Cupid will impose for my neglect
Of his almighty dreadful little might.
Well, I will love, write, sigh, pray, sue, and groan.
Some men must love my lady, and some Joan.