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Act III, Scene 1
Armado tells Moth to sing him some "sweet air" about love, and Moth willingly obliges. The servant also instructs Armado on how best to court Jaquenetta in a most comical and entertaining way, making great use of word play. Even without the help of his aside comments, it is easy to tell that Moth is mocking his companion's zealous and pompous professions of love. However, Armado is blissfully unaware of Moth's mockery and even compliments his song as the "sweet smoke of rhetoric".
Armado sends Moth to fetch Costard, whom he wants to carry a letter to Jaquenetta. Moth returns with the man, and they both engage in riddling and teasing Armado, until he finally proclaims that "we will talk no more of this matter". Armado now explains to Costard the conditions for his freedom and instructs him to deliver the letter, giving him a small financial reward for the service. As Armado and Moth depart, Biron enters and stops Costard. Ironically, he has come to ask Costard to deliver a letter to Rosaline and gives the man a small reward for the service. Happy over the money he has received from the two men, Costard leaves to deliver both letters.
Biron, now alone on-stage, speaks aloud about his newfound feelings of love and asks himself, "What? I love, I sue, I seek a wife?" He answers his own question as he describes Rosaline's appearance and character in a gentle, eloquent, and dignified speech.
This scene is first noteworthy for the juxtaposition of Armado and Biron as lovers. Armado represents the fool; he is a comical and overwrought man who spends more time speaking of his feelings and trying to outdo everyone else with language than in actually expressing himself. Biron, on the other hand, expresses his feelings with wonder and dignity. Shakespeare uses language to distinguish the two men from one another. Armado's three-line soliloquy on his love is a completely forced rhyme, very much in keeping with his braggart role:
A most acute juvenal-valuable and free of grace. By thy favour, sweet welkin, I must sigh in thy face. My rude melancholy, valour gives thee place.
In contrast, Biron speaks in verse that is pleasing and freed from the annoying and unexceptional rhymes that Armado seems to think make his love unique. Biron expresses his dilemma vividly and passionately, for he feels that his act of "perjury" (falling in love) is "the worst of all" offenses since it is causing him to break his vows to the King. But he feels helpless against Rosaline, "a whitely wanton with a velvet brow."
It is important to notice that Armado opens the scene with his silly declarations of love, and Biron closes the scene with his passionate claims. But in spite of the ways the two men are different, they are both smitten with a love that they wish to declare to the ladies they idolize. It is appropriate, therefore, that both Armado and Biron write love letters and employ Costard as their messenger. With a supreme dramatic stroke, Shakespeare has created the possibility of confusion as Costard carries both letters. It is nearly inevitable that he will incorrectly deliver the letters, creating a typical and entertaining scene of romantic comedy.