A Lover's Complaint brilliantly transforms the male-authored female complaint by incorporating and transcending a wide variety of sources and analogues. 1 This essay explores the complex, multi-layered, continually receding narrative structure of A Lover's Complaint in relation to what I term the exculpatory complaint—a subgenre that interrogates the social and ethical codes that didactic de casibus complaints such as Churchyard's 'Shore's Wife' promulgate. 2 Written by both men and women and often doubling as veiled poems of courtship, exculpatory complaints invite sympathy and support for a woman who has been, or is in danger of being, seduced and betrayed by a man whose callousness and dishonesty the poem exposes. While a number of Shakespeare's immediate predecessors, Isabella Whitney, Sir Henry Lee, Anne Vavasour, George Gascoigne, and Samuel Daniel, 3 wrote exculpatory complaints that are likely models for A Lover's Complaint, this essay focuses on Lee's 'Sitting alone upon my thought' and Vavasour's 'Though I seem strange' because they provide particularly illuminating analogues to and commentaries upon Shakespeare's mysteriously complex narrative structure. 4