Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 2

Summary

The Countess and her clown/servant, Lavache, discourse on the subject of the "court," where he is shortly to be sent on an errand.

Analysis

This comical interlude has a threefold function: (1) as a bridge, (2) as an emotional and thematic gloss on the scenes either side of it, and (3) as a simple entertainment in itself. Remember, Shakespeare's comic actors were given room for improvisation, and hence a scene like this one, obliquely satirizing courtly manners, could be largely visual in the person of the clown preparing himself to make an appearance before a group of courtiers. While practicing the art of foppishly affected speech — the inanely repeated "universal answer" to every question is "O Lord, sir!" — the clown is no doubt also training himself physically, in highly artificial, dance-like movements. This, Shakespeare seems to be saying, is the world to which Bertram wants to attach himself.

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Bertram refuses to marry Helena because he

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