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Written by Micola Magdalena
Love and religion
In Shakespeare’s time, love was sometimes considered comparable to religion. Those who felt in love would treat their partners with fervor and devotion just like they would treat a God. In a way, it can be said that love replaced religion in some aspects and that more people were ready to worship love and their partner, not God. Because of this, it is not hard to see similarities between religious fervor and the way people regarded love in the play.
Metaphor for manliness
War is used in the play as a metaphor for manliness. When the war starts, the vast majority of the male population left to fight on the battlefield. Those who remained at court were the ill and the men who are not considered as being manly. Bertrand’s refusal to go to war and the excuse he gave to the other noblemen signal the fact that he is not manly and his refusal to go to war is used here as a metaphor for his lack of courage and qualities linked with the idea of a real man.
In the third act, Helena reaches Florence, the same city were her husband is. There, she finds that he tried to bed a young girl named Diana, despite being married. Also in the third act, the story of how the regiment’s drum was lost on the battlefield is revealed and how the soldiers felt that losing the drum was a great shame. Both events are similar in that they both represent failure. Bertram failed to convince the young girl to sleep with him and the soldiers failed to win the battle and lost something that symbolized courage. Also in both cases, a character in the play is willing to go and try and change the situation: Bertram expresses his wish to try again to seduce Diana and Parolles is the one who willingly offers himself to go and try find the drum.
Metaphor for triumph
When Helena managed to convince Diana to work with her against Bertram, they plot to take his ring with which he never departed. When Diana takes the ring and gives it to Helena, it marks the beginning of Helena’s triumph and Bertrand’s failure. Because of this, the retrieval of the ring can be seen as being a metaphor for triumph.
Metaphor for civilization
In Shakespearean plays, the association between the urban space and civilization appears on numerous occasions. What is generally believed is that civilization exists only in the urban areas and it is only there as well where man can behave in a proper manner. This is clearly seen in the play as well, since the only place where characters behave rationally is inside a city or inside the King’s court. Outside of it, the characters behave in a way that can be considered ill fitted for them and do not care about the consequences.
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