Thursday, July 12, 2012

Medieval Portuguese Literature

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Like most of the major characters in As You Like It, William Shakespeare experienced life in both the country and the city. His birthplace- Stratford, on the Avon River- was a bustling country town. He arrived in London, the social, commercial, and intellectual center of England, during the reign of Elizabeth I, at the height of the English Renaissance. All classes of Englishmen, including artisans, the new middle class, and the nobility, shared a keen desire to be entertained. The influx of wealth from the New World had given many of them money to spend. Since Shakespeares plays were- and still are- crowd pleasers, he quickly became one of the most successful playwrights of his time.

It should be helpful to examine a few ways in which As You Like It reflects the interests of the audience for which it was written. For example, Elizabethan audiences took great pleasure in the type of complex wordplay practiced by Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone. During the Renaissance, the English had begun to take their own language seriously for the first time. It had previously been considered too coarse for the expression of subtle ideas or fine shades of meaning. (Serious writing was still done in Latin.) Shakespeare probably shared his audiences enthusiasm for exploring the potential of their native tongue.

As You Like It draws upon an Elizabethan genre (type of literature) known as the pastoral romance. As escapist literature, the pastoral romance (a love story with a country setting) was extremely popular. Its conventions were as fixed and artificial as the formula plots of todays romance novels. These love stories were set in idealized country locales, where life was pure and innocent. The rustic settings were populated by shepherds and shepherdesses who thought only of love and spoke of their passion in elaborate (and sometimes awful) verse. Love at first sight was commonplace. The characters suffered the pangs of unrequited love. In the forest settings of these stories, you might encounter a lion, a magician, or a band of thieves. Elizabethans would have recognized the poetic rustics Silvius and Phebe from As You Like It as stock characters out of such a pastoral romance. They would have enjoyed seeing Rosalind save Orlando from becoming just another lovesick young man like Silvius.

Many noble Elizabethan households kept professional fools such as Touchstone for entertainment. His role was actually written for Robert Armin, who had been a professional fool before joining Shakespeares acting company. Jesters occupied a special place in Elizabethan society. They could mix with both kings and servants. As long as they pleased their masters, they could say almost anything they wished. Often, Shakespeares fools tell the truth when nobody else will. As you will see, Touchstone exposes pretension and foolishness wherever he finds them.

The romance and humor of As You Like It are played out against a backdrop of danger and political intrigue. Rosalind and Orlando both flee the city under threat of death. Much is made of the envious court, where nobody can be trusted and where flatterers are always seeking to add to their own power. This darker side of life was also a part of Shakespeares England. When Elizabeth became queen in 1558, she inherited both religious tensions and grave financial difficulties. Fortunately, she was a shrewd politician and skillfully played her noblemen against each other, so that no individual could gain enough power to threaten her.

A very real threat to Elizabeth was posed by Mary, Queen of Scots. Until Marys execution in 1587, Elizabeth lived with the fear that the Roman Catholics might rally around Mary and mount a rebellion. In this play, Duke Frederick fears that Rosalinds graces will remind the people of her father and cause them to revolt.

So As You Like It does mirror the concerns of Shakespeares audience. But what about the author, what of Shakespeare the man? Very little is actually known about him. Neither he nor anybody else of his era ever recorded the story of his life. A few facts are known. He was born in Stratford, a small English country town on the Avon River, and baptized on April 6, 1564. Since infants were generally baptized at three days, his birth date may have been April . His father was John Shakespeare, a prosperous Stratford businessman and town council member. Williams mother, Mary, was the daughter of a well-to-do landowner. William was the eldest of their six children. Shakespeare almost certainly attended the local grammar school. There, his studies would have included Latin, rhetoric (grammar, composition), and literature.

In November 158 he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior. Annes age, combined with the fact that their first child was born only six months after the wedding, has led some scholars to believe that the marriage was one of necessity. That may not be the case, however, because at that time it was socially acceptable for an engaged couple to sleep together. William and Anne had two girls, Susanna and Judith, and one son, Hamnet, who died young.

Nobody knows what work Shakespeare did while in Stratford. He may have been a schoolteacher or a private tutor in a wealthy household. Like Orlando in As You Like It, he had to leave his birthplace to find his future. Unlike Orlando, who fled to the country, William headed for the big city, London. (Legend has it that he had to leave Stratford after being caught hunting illegally on a large estate, but no records exist to verify that story.) In London he became first an actor and later a playwright. Along with success, he found envy. The first mention of Shakespeare in London is in a pamphlet by a rival playwright, Robert Greene. In A Groatsworth of Wit (groat an old English coin worth four pennies), Greene warned fellow university-educated playwrights of an upstart actor (Shakespeare) who had the gall to write plays. Nevertheless, Shakespeare became the most successful playwright of his day. He was an actor (of small parts), a playwright, and a partner in the Lord Chamberlains Men, a theater company favored by Queen Elizabeth. Her successor, James I, elevated the company to the rank of Kings Men in 160.

Although plays were a popular form of entertainment, they werent highly regarded as literature. To secure his artistic reputation, Shakespeare wrote poems. Between 15 and 1601, he penned three long narrative poems- Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, and The Phoenix and the Turtle- as well as a famous series of sonnets.

As You Like It premiered in 15 or 1600, about the same time that Shakespeares company moved into the Globe Theatre, across the Thames River from the city of London. Shakespeares reputation had been firmly established by nineteen previous plays. Among the eighteen to follow would be his four great tragedies- Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. By 161, Shakespeare had returned to live in Stratford, where he owned a fine house called New Place. He died there, presumably on his birthday, April , 1616.

As You Like It was rarely performed in the first century after Shakespeares death. In 17 an enterprising London producer combined the play with Shakespeares Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Nights Dream to create a collage called Love in a Forest. But by the nineteenth century, As You Like It had become one of Shakespeares most frequently performed works. The Romantic spirit of that time probably helped the play to find new favor with audiences. In addition, many leading ladies wanted to play the showcase role of Rosalind. As You Like It is still popular today. Audiences enjoy its blend of humor and romance, and fall in love with Rosalind just as Orlando does.

As You Like It

William Shakespeare



Orlando, the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, is fed up. Since his fathers death, his oldest brother, Oliver, has refused to give Orlando either the proper education or the money that Sir Rowland intended for him. Oliver hates Orlando. When he learns that Orlando intends to try his skill against a professional wrestler named Charles, Oliver incites Charles to kill Orlando in their match.

The country is ruled by Duke Frederick, who seized the throne from his own older brother by force. The wronged brother, Duke Senior, has been exiled to the Forest of Arden with many of his lords. His daughter, Rosalind, however, has remained at court. She and Duke Fredericks daughter, Celia, love each other like sisters.

Observing Orlando and Charles preparing for their match, Rosalind and Celia fear that the wrestler will hurt Orlando. Much to everybodys surprise, Orlando defeats Charles. But when Duke Frederick finds out that Orlando is the son of Sir Rowland, who was once his enemy, he coldly dismisses the young man and leaves. The ladies offer Orlando a word of congratulation, and as they do so, it is clear that Rosalind and Orlando have already fallen in love.

Duke Frederick accuses Rosalind of stealing the peoples affection away from his own daughter. As a punishment, she must leave the city or be put to death. Celia, who cares more for Rosalind than for her wicked father, resolves to run away with her cousin to the Forest of Arden. For safetys sake, Celia disguises herself as a peasant girl, named Aliena, while Rosalind dons a boys outfit and assumes the name Ganymede. They convince Duke Fredericks court fool (clown), Touchstone, to go with them.

When Duke Frederick discovers that Celia and Rosalind are missing, he assumes they are with Orlando and angrily commands Oliver to find them and bring his daughter back. Meanwhile, warned by his fathers old servant Adam that Oliver intends to murder him, Orlando has fled with Adam to the Forest of Arden.

After a long, hard journey, the ladies and Touchstone arrive in the forest. Rosalind arranges with Corin, an old shepherd, to buy a cottage for them and a flock of sheep.

Orlando and Adam finally reach Arden. Tired and starving, they find a haven in the camp of Duke Senior (Rosalinds father) and his lords.

Orlando now turns his thoughts to love. He writes passionate but amateurish poems to his beloved Rosalind and hangs them on the trees. He doesnt know, of course, that she is in the forest. She discovers the poems and is thrilled that Orlando is near.

Disguised as Ganymede, Rosalind finds Orlando in the forest and strikes up a conversation with him. He never suspects her true identity. Adopting a cynical attitude toward women, Rosalind tells Orlando that his lovesick behavior is foolish. She offers to cure him of love by playing a game with him. She will pretend to be his Rosalind. If he will woo her, she will demonstrate how impossible women are. Although he doesnt want to be cured, Orlando agrees to play along. They plan to meet the next day to begin the love cure.

While waiting for Orlando to keep their appointment, Rosalind observes a young shepherd named Silvius wooing Phebe, a shepherdess. Phebe scorns Silvius, who swears that her rejection will kill him. Rosalind soon has heard enough. She steps in and berates Phebe for her cruelty. Thinking that Rosalind is a man, Phebe immediately falls in love with her! Rosalind, of course, rejects Phebe and quickly leaves.

Orlando finally arrives for his first dose of love cure. After Ganymede demonstrates how difficult women can be, Orlando leaves, promising to return shortly.

Silvius shows up with a letter from Phebe to Ganymede. He assumes that its an angry message. But when Rosalind reads it aloud, hes dismayed to learn hes brought a love letter. Rosalind sends the crushed lover back to Phebe.

Then Oliver, Orlandos brother enters, bearing a message for the youth Rosalind. It seems that Orlando has just saved Olivers life by fighting and killing a fierce lioness that was ready to attack. As a result, Oliver has seen and renounced the evil of his ways.

Celia and Oliver fall in love at first sight. Their joy only increases Orlandos sadness at being separated from Rosalind. Ganymede offers to make Rosalind appear the next day by magic.

The following day, all the lovers gather at Duke Seniors camp. Touchstone arrives with Audrey, a country wench hes decided to marry. Rosalind reveals her true identity, paving the way for a joyful conclusion to the story. Rosalind will marry Orlando; Oliver and Celia will wed; Phebe, seeing that Ganymede is a woman, decides she loves Silvius after all; and Touchstone and Audrey will marry.

Before the celebrating can begin, a message arrives that Duke Frederick, who set out into the forest with the intention of killing Duke Senior, has met an old religious man along the way and been converted. Duke Seniors lands and position are therefore restored to him. After music and dancing, Rosalind asks the lovers in the audience to bid her farewell with their applause.

[As You Like It Contents]



Rosalinds function in the plot of As You Like It is vital. Once circumstances have driven all the major characters to the Forest of Arden, Rosalind either causes or contributes to all the major conflicts. It is she who resolves them all in the end.

Shes a complex and deeply human character. In Act I, you are first struck by her wit as she and Celia joke about such subjects as love and luck. At the same time, Shakespeare reminds you that Rosalind is an outsider, even in the court where she has grown up. Her father, the rightful duke, has been exiled. Although Rosalind misses him terribly, she will laugh and joke for her friend Celias sake.

Rosalind has the ability to rise above her own deeply felt emotions. Her love for Orlando makes her feel as giddy as any lovesick adolescent. (Look at her excitement when she learns that Orlando is in the forest.) She could easily surrender to the temptation to run around reciting poetry and swearing to die for love. Instead, she administers a love cure to Orlando that makes both of them stand back and take a good look at how ridiculous many conventional attitudes toward love really are. Thus, she avoids confusing the idea of love with love itself.

She is also remarkably clever. She makes up the love cure on the spot and quickly invents an uncle and a magician to justify the stories she tells. And shes practical enough to be sure that she and Celia acquire a place to live as soon as they reach Arden.

Rosalind is a good judge of character. She appreciates the skill of Touchstone, the court fool, and immediately sees through the pretensions of Jaques, Duke Seniors melancholy attendant. She has only to observe Silvius and Phebe for a few moments in order to size up their situation accurately.

Finally, you should take note of her courage. She boldly tells the usurping duke that her father was no traitor. It also takes spunk to go on a dangerous journey disguised as a man because highwaymen would probably attack the man first.


Readers opinions about Orlando tend to fall into two camps. Some view him as the embodiment of all the virtues a Renaissance gentleman should possess. Others consider him dull and even stupid.

Even his brother Oliver, who hates him, admits that Orlando is well thought of in the community. Hes considered gentle and naturally noble. Although hes physically strong (as his defeat of Charles the wrestler proves), he will not harm his brother. He should respect his older brother, and he does. Later, even after Oliver has plotted to kill him, Orlando only hesitates a moment before risking his life to save Olivers. When Orlando and his faithful old servant Adam are starving, Orlando will not eat a bite until he has seen to the old mans needs. Such courtesy must be a product of his nature, because hes been denied a gentlemans education.

So, Orlando is strong, gentle, and noble. Is he witty and intelligent, too? He does outsmart Jaques in a contest of words. But nobody would read his love poems and find much to praise in them. As a lover, he tends to be a bit sappy. Without Rosalinds help, he could be another Silvius. Does that make him a fool? Rosalind must see hope for him. Under her guidance, he does improve.

Do you see Orlandos weaknesses as indications that hes noble but not very intelligent? Or do you regard them as the kinds of imperfections that make him more human?


In Act I, Celia has just as much to do and say as Rosalind. She fades into the background, however, as the play goes on. Although she remains undeveloped, many readers find her a charming character. She and Rosalind share a deep, loving friendship, and her importance is a function of that relationship.

First, she serves as a confidant, a person with whom Rosalind can talk openly about her feelings. While Rosalind hides her true emotions in her scenes with Orlando, she is absolutely honest with Celia.

What raises Celia from dramatic device (someone serving merely to help the play along) to a character who is interesting in her own right is her wit. From their first appearance, Celia matches Rosalind in her ease with words. Since Celia doesnt fall in love until nearly the end of the play, she also retains her cool judgment. Thus, when Rosalind expresses her own romantic feelings, Celia is there to undercut them with pointed jests.


Jaques (pronounced Jake-ways or Jake-weez) has been the focus of much debate. Is he a caricature of the many self-styled social critics Shakespeare saw around him? Or is he a genuine critic of society who voices Shakespeares own cynical view of life? Many readers see Jaques as a railer, a professional griper who adopts a melancholy pose. Is he profound or foolish? That you can even ask such questions is a tribute to Shakespeares genius in portraying his major characters. You can take different views of them, just as you can of real people.

Duke Senior and his followers treat Jaques with a certain amount of respect, but they clearly derive more amusement than instruction from his pronouncements. Touchstone patronizes Jaques, although Jaques doesnt realize it. Orlando plainly tells Jaques that he hates his company. Rosalind accuses him of being a traveler who pretends not to like his own country only to get attention.

Are these assessments correct? Readers who see Jaques as Shakespeares spokesman point to his speech about the Seven Ages of Man. If Shakespeare wanted to satirize Jaquess cynical views, would he have Jaques express his sentiments so beautifully? On the other hand, does the play as a whole support such a viewpoint? Would Shakespeare have picked Jaques as his spokesman? You must make up your mind based on your interpretation of the text.

Jaques is what Elizabethans called a humor character. To the Elizabethans, humor meant temperament. A humor character is based on an exaggerated personality trait. Elizabethans believed that a persons temperament (mood or personality) was regulated by the balance of four bodily fluids blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy. According to this theory, if the balance of your bodily fluids changed, your mood would alter. If a person was constantly sad and gloomy, like Jaques, Elizabethans believed he had too much melancholy (also called black bile) in his system. Thats why there are references to the melancholy Jaques.


Many noble households in Shakespeares time kept licensed fools. These fools were essentially entertainers. They wore motley, a patchwork coat of various colors. Touchstone, the fool of Duke Fredericks household, becomes Rosalind and Celias traveling companion when they escape to the Forest of Arden. Like Feste in Shakespeares Twelfth Night or the Fool in King Lear, Touchstone is a wise fool. Under the guise of spouting amusing nonsense, he reveals the truth about the people he meets.

Touchstones name describes his function. A touchstone was used to test the purity of precious metals- that is, to determine the genuineness or quality of a thing. This fool unmasks pretension and foolishness wherever he sees it. His primary technique is mimicry. For example, the first time he hears Silvius carrying on about Phebe, Touchstone does a funny imitation of the lovesick shepherd. He accomplishes two things He makes the audience laugh, and he points out the absurdity of Silviuss behavior.

He uses the same approach on the melancholy Jaques, who finds sad morals everywhere. Touchstone mimics him by delivering a gloomy but meaningless sermon about the consequences of time passing, making Jaques believe hes found a kindred spirit. Touchstone reveals that Jaquess pronouncements may not be as profound as Jaques would like people to believe.

Touchstone doesnt always mimic the person hes talking to. With Corin and William, he imitates a learned man from the city. His manners and his learned examples are all nonsense, but the shepherds are fooled. Shakespeare uses Touchstone to clarify one of the satiric points of As You Like It- that real shepherds are not poetical, like their counterparts in pastoral romances.

Touchstones courtship of Audrey parodies the pure, spiritual love that Silvius talks about by demonstrating the opposite extreme. Silvius sees love as something poetic and marriage as the fulfillment of a great spiritual longing. Touchstone regards marriage as a way to fulfill ones sexual urges. He purposely chooses an ugly woman and clearly states his intention to leave her once he tires of her.

As you read each of Touchstones scenes, ask yourself, Whom is the fool mimicking? What point is he making?


Orlandos brother Oliver starts the play as a villain. When you first meet him, he is arrogant and cruel. He has stolen Orlandos inheritance by refusing to give him a gentlemans education or the money that their late father intended for Orlando. When Orlando wins acclaim by defeating Charles the wrestler, the jealous Oliver plots to murder his brother.

Several times in Act I, Oliver is called unnatural. That means he respects neither his dead fathers wishes nor the laws of God, according to both of which he should love and care for his brother. His ill treatment of the faithful old servant, Adam, demonstrates his contempt for all the Old World virtues.

Some readers believe that Oliver is motivated by envy. He says in a soliloquy (monologue) that people love Orlando and, as a consequence, ignore Oliver. Thus, hes an example of what Duke Senior calls the envious court. Other readers hold that Olivers psychological motivations are beside the point. He is not a study of a good man ruined by envy. Hes evil because Shakespeare needed him to be. (The same is often said of a much more fully developed villain- Iago in Othello.)

When you see Oliver at the end of Act IV, he has undergone a complete and miraculous conversion. His forsaking of evil serves two purposes It parodies the types of sudden conversions found in pastoral romances, and it allows Celia to fall in love with him, thus providing another couple for the climactic wedding scene.


These two rustics, or country folk, are the typical shepherds and shepherdesses of pastoral romances. Though uneducated, Silvius and Phebe speak in verse. Their sheep must be wandering loose somewhere, because their only concern is love.

The roles they play are determined by convention. Phebe proudly scorns Silvius, who constantly pursues her, swearing eternal love. He seems actually to believe that her frowns can kill him, and hes always ready to die for love. When Phebe falls in love with Ganymede, she expresses the same sentiments.

Can a modern audience appreciate these characters? Of course. Most people who have ever been in love can identify with Silvius (and later with Phebe). Can you? If you regard them as people (rather than as literary parodies), they become embodiments of all the ridiculous extremes to which love can drive almost anybody.


These three rustics are very different from Silvius and Phebe. Instead of speaking in elaborate verse, Corin, William, and Audrey express themselves simply and have very limited vocabularies.

Corin befriends Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone when they first arrive in the forest. He arranges for Rosalind and Celia to purchase a cottage, some land, and a flock of sheep. Since he knows a lot about tending sheep, Rosalind and Celia hire him to look after their flock. Corin is a good, simple man. Touchstones nonsense philosophy confuses him, but the fool cannot make Corin doubt his own values.

Audrey is as earthy as Phebe is poetical. Before Touchstone can woo her, he has to promise to look after her goats. She understands very little of what he says and believes that hes a courtier (a member of the royal court). If Touchstone tells the truth, she is extremely unattractive. A great deal of humor is derived from her coarseness and lack of sophistication. At one point, for example, Touchstone has to tell her to bear [her] body more seeming [properly] (Act V, scene iv, lines 7-7). After a distinctly unromantic courtship, she marries Touchstone.

William is a country bumpkin who may have once been engaged to Audrey. When he comes to discuss the matter with Touchstone, the fool confuses him utterly and sends him on his way. Many readers consider Williams one scene a classic example of Shakespeares skill in comedic writing.


Duke Frederick is a usurper (someone who seizes power illegally). He has taken the throne from his older brother, Duke Senior, and banished him to the forest. Elizabethans believed that rulers were placed on their thrones by God. Therefore, a usurper offended God as well as man. Frederick lives in constant fear of being overthrown himself. (In that way hes similar to another usurper in Shakespeare, Macbeth. Unlike Macbeth, however, Frederick has not committed murder.) As a consequence, he is capable of swift mood changes and acts of terrible cruelty. He banishes Rosalind, because he fears that she is stealing the peoples affection away from his own daughter, Celia. He probably also fears that, as the daughter of the rightful ruler, Rosalind might inspire the people to revolt. All he cares about is preserving his own power.

Duke Senior, on the other hand, is gentle, generous, and philosophical. He treats the lords who have joined him in exile like equals, although they still show him the respect due his position. He gladly welcomes Orlando and Adam into their group. He tries to find good in everything, even their banishment. Although living in the forest is difficult, he claims to prefer that life to the lies, flattery, and deception he had to deal with in the city.

Some readers question whether he really enjoys the forest as much as he says he does. They point out how willingly he returns to the city at the end of the play. Is he trying to convince himself that he likes the forest? Or is he pretending to be cheerful for his companions sake?


Orlandos faithful old servant, Adam, represents the virtues of the Old World. He clearly loved his master, Sir Rowland, and is now just as devoted to Sir Rowlands son Orlando. He even goes so far as to give Orlando all the money he has saved. Orlando proves his nobility by treating Adam with love and respect. The wicked Oliver, on the other hand, mistreats Adam, thus proving his villainy.


The Lord of Amiens is one of Duke Seniors men. He engages in conversation with Jaques but, unlike the duke, does not dispute with him. Amienss main function is to sing songs about the forest life.


Le Beau, a courtier, is one of Duke Fredericks followers. He is a dandy, one who always dresses in the latest fashion, no matter how ridiculous it, or he, may look. Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone band together to make fun of his posing. He is not merely a figure of fun, however. After the wrestling match, he risks his own safety to warn Orlando that the duke may harm him.


Sir Oliver is a priest, who shows up to marry Touchstone and Audrey. His name provides a clue to his character- he will mar (ruin) his text (the wedding ceremony). By hiring this inept priest, Touchstone underscores his attitude toward marriage- that it is like the mating of animals.

[As You Like It Contents]



The first act of As You Like It takes place in the city. Here, a man-made order has been imposed. Oliver owns his house. The duke lives in the palace and rules the land. The wildness of nature has been tamed. Trees grow in an orchard; grass is neatly trimmed into a lawn. The same rigid order is found in the citys social structure. People know exactly whom they have to please in order to get ahead. Flattery and outright deception are commonplace.

Almost all the action in Acts II to V occurs in the Forest of Arden. There, no such man-made order exists. Except for the modest cottage purchased by Rosalind and Celia, ownership is never an issue. One scene is distinguished from another simply by its taking place in another part of the forest. Duke Senior never gives commands. His lords treat him like a respected older gentleman.

There are similarities between this forest and the woodland settings of pastoral romances. Its a rather magical place. In no real forest does the animal population include both sheep and lions. An old, religious hermit lives there, and so, it seems, does Hymen, the god of marriage. Yet, there are realistic elements. The shepherd Corin has a hard life, and the duke and his men must contend with cruel winter winds.


Here are some major themes of As You Like It. Some appear to contradict each other (like the first two). As you study the play, you should decide which ones you consider valid.


In Elizabethan pastoral romances (love stories set in the country), rustic life was idealized as simpler, happier, and healthier than city life. Some readers believe this play expresses the same attitude. In the city, Rosalinds and Orlandos virtues arouse so much envy that both must flee to avoid being murdered. In the country, these two noble characters prosper. Virtuous Duke Senior seems to be happier in exile than he was at court. Country folk like Corin and Audrey are simple, hardworking people. Silvius and Phebe may seem silly, but they are harmless and rather charming. Finally, both villains (Oliver and Duke Frederick) renounce evil as soon as they arrive in the forest.


Some readers believe that As You Like It exposes the absurdity of the so-called pastoral ideal. Duke Senior speaks about Arden as if it were the Garden of Eden, but he returns to the city the first chance he gets. Silvius and Phebe arent even real shepherds. They exist only to demonstrate the absurd way rustics are portrayed in pastoral fiction. Real shepherds, such as Corin and William, are dim-witted clowns. Arden isnt Eden- its a place where the winter winds will freeze you, if the wild beasts dont kill you first.


As You Like It is a love story. The word love has many meanings. Through its various characters and their relationships, the play comments on several varieties of love.

a. Romantic Love

The essence of romantic love, as portrayed in literature, is that love must remain unfulfilled. The lovers are separated by distance, circumstance, or some unkind act of fate. Therefore, they quietly pine away for each other. This romantic ideal became popular in medieval times. By Shakespeares time, the conventions of romantic love had been refined into a formula by the writers of romantic prose and poetry. Silvius and Phebe act out those conventions. Rosalind and Orlando flirt with the formula but ultimately rise above it.

b. Sexual Love

In sexual love, fulfillment is the only consideration. As Touchstone explains, people have needs. Marriage is an efficient, socially acceptable means to satisfy those physical needs. The love object need not be beautiful, noble, or inspirational- only available and willing.

c. Balanced Love

Rosalind and Orlando occupy a middle ground between the romantic and the purely sexual. They both feel the joy and excitement of romance, as they do inspire each other. But they want their love to lead to fulfillment. Rosalind has only just met Orlando when she tells Celia that she wants him to be the father of her children. Is their love the most complete love found in this play? What evidence can you offer to support your opinion?

d. Love as Friendship

Rosalind and Celia enjoy an ideal friendship. They feel each others pain and enjoy each others good qualities. There is no envy between them. Such friendships were frequently portrayed in Renaissance fiction, but the relationship was generally between two men.


The play can be viewed as a study of the difference between what people deserve and what they get. Nature, according to the Elizabethans, referred to the qualities a person is born with. Fortune was thought of as a force that determined a persons worldly position. By Nature, Orlando is honest, virtuous, and noble. Fortune, however, has deprived him of his birthright. His brother Oliver is petty and jealous, but Fortune has given him wealth and power. All the noble characters suffer in this play. In the end, the imbalance is corrected.


Affectations (pretensions) have always been good targets for satire. In As You Like It, Shakespeare exposes several forms of artificial behavior. The affectations of courtiers are parodied by Touchstone. Corin, William, and Audrey provide realistic examples of country folk in contrast to the artificial characters portrayed by Silvius and Phebe. Rosalind systematically explains how the conventions of romantic love do not agree with the realities of life. While ridiculing pretense, Shakespeare celebrates genuine nobility and real love.


All the worlds a stage, says Jaques, and all the men and women merely players (Act II, scene vii, lines 14-150). Every person plays a variety of roles in real life-parent, child, friend, lover, enemy, and so on. Some of the characters in this play engage in playacting as well. Some of the role playing produces positive results. Rosalinds disguise as a man enables her to teach Orlando a valuable lesson. Celias disguise allows her to escape from the court of her wicked father. Touchstone amuses and instructs by assuming various roles at will. Other roles cause problems. Silvius and Phebe act out the limited conventions of romantic love; without Rosalinds help, their relationship would remain static. Some readers consider Jaques a consummate role player. They hold that his criticisms come not from true feeling but from a desire for attention.


Elizabethans believed that God established the order and rank of people and things. Whoever disturbed that order committed a sin. Duke Frederick upset Gods plan when he stole his older brothers throne. Oliver committed a wrong by refusing to respect his late fathers wishes. These sins cause suffering. The noble characters must endure hardship, and the villains cant enjoy the power and wealth theyve stolen. By the end of the play, the natural order is restored. Both villains are converted, and Gods will once again prevails.


You can learn a lot about the characters in As You Like It by examining the way they speak. For example, if you look at Orlandos use of language in Act I, you will notice that his statements are bold and direct but always respectful. That suggests that hes a noble young man, forced to stand up for his rights. Oliver, in contrast, is snide and deceitful. The tyrant Duke Frederick often gives commands. His speeches contain neither wit nor poetry. Rosalind and Celia have a natural optimism and enthusiasm for life that no hardship can subdue. Their speech accordingly bubbles with wit and good humor.

In the forest, when Orlandos thoughts turn to love, his mode of expression changes. He becomes fanciful and poetic in talking about Rosalind. Silvius and Phebe speak only in verse; love is all that matters to them. The severely limited vocabularies of Corin, William, and Audrey tell you that these are genuine rustics- uneducated, and familiar only with matters pertaining to sheep and goats.

Some of the dialogue is written in verse (Silvius and Phebes, for example). For these passages, Shakespeare used unrhymed iambic pentameter- that is, lines of ten syllables each, with every second syllable accented. Other characters, like Corin and Audrey, speak less formally in prose. Most of the others alternate between two styles.

Shakespeares language is loaded with imagery- words and phrases that make you see a picture. The imagery tells you something about the speakers character or his emotions. A good example is Jaquess famous speech about the Seven Ages of Man (Act II, scene iii). Jaques paints a picture to describe each age, from the mewling and puking infant to the old man who has entered second childishness. Each image reflects Jaquess melancholy and overcritical nature.

As you read, ask yourself How is each character using language? What does his or her language reveal about that character?


All languages change. Differences in pronunciation and word choice are apparent even between parents and their children. If language differences can appear in one generation, it is only to be expected that the English used by Shakespeare four hundred years ago will be markedly different from the English used today. The following information on Shakespeares language will help a modern reader to a fuller understanding of As You Like It.


Adjectives, nouns, and verbs were less rigidly confined to particular classes in Shakespeares day. Adjectives were often used as adverbs. In Act II, scene iv, line 54, for example, wiser is used for more wisely

Thou speakest wiser than thou art ware of.

They could also appear as verbs. In Act I, scene iii, line 5, lame means make [me] lame

...come lame me with reasons.

Nouns, including proper nouns, could be used as verbs. Estate is used to mean leave as my estate

...all the revenue that was old Sir Rowlands

will I estate upon you,...

(V, ii, 10-1)

and Phebe means treats [me] as Phebe would

She Phebes me.

(IV, iii, )


The meanings of all words undergo changes, a process that can be illustrated by the fact that prevent used to mean come before, as in the biblical He prevented [came before] the dawn. Many of the words in Shakespeare still exist today but their meanings have changed. The change may be small, as in the case of honest, meaning chaste, in

Tis true, for those she makes fair, she scarce

makes honest; and those she makes honest, she

makes very ill-favoredly.

(I, ii, 6-8)

or more fundamental, so that countenance (I, i, 17) meant lifestyle, underhand (I, i, 18) meant unobtrusive, villains (II, ii, ) meant lower servants, fond (II, iii, 7) meant foolish, and modern (IV, i, 6) meant trite.


Words not only change their meanings but are frequently discarded from the language. In the past, kine was a plural form of cow and lich meant corpse. The following words used in As You Like It are no longer current in English, but their meanings can usually be gauged from the context in which they occur.

HINDS (I, i, 1)

farm servants



HUSSIF (I, ii, 0)


QUINTAIN (I, ii, 41)

stuffed dummy used in jousting



SWASHING (I, iii, 116)


ROYNISH (II, ii, 8)


MEED (II, ii, 8)


DOG APES (II, iv, 7)


COVER (II, v, 8)

set the table

BOB (II, vii, 55)




FELLS (III, ii, 51)


PERPENT (III, ii, 65)



false friends

BREATHER (III, ii, 75)

living human being


severe, uninterrupted fever



BOW (III, iii, 71)


CARLOT (III, v, 108)


LEER (IV, i, 64)


BASTINADO (V, i, 54)

beating, cudgeling




Shakespearean verb forms differ from modern usage in three main ways

1. Questions and negatives could be formed without using do/did

What said he? How looked he? Wherein went

he? What makes he here?

(III, ii, 16-18)


This must I do, or know not what to do;

(II, iii, 4)

Shakespeare had the option of using forms a and b whereas contemporary usage permits only the a forms

a b

Is Orlando going? Goes Orlando?

Did Orlando go? Went Orlando?

You do not look well. You look not well.

You did not look well. You looked not well.

. Many past participles and past tense forms are used that would be ungrammatical today. Among these are

broke for broken in

Or if thou hast not broke from company

(II, iv, 7)

eat for eaten in

Why, I have eat none yet.

(II, vii, 8)

love-shaked for love-shaken in

I am he that is so love-shaked.

(III, ii, 57)

begot for begotten in

...that was begot of thought,...

(IV, i, 0)

and writ for wrote in

To show the letter that I writ to you.

(V, ii, 77)

. Archaic verb forms sometimes occur with thou and he/she/it

Thou art not for the fashion of these times,

(II, iii, 5)


...knowest thou not the Duke

Hath banished me his daughter?

(I, iii, 0-1)


Shakespeare and his contemporaries had one extra pronoun, thou, which could be used in addressing a person who was ones equal or social inferior. You was obligatory if more than one person was addressed

I beseech you, punish me not with your hard

thoughts, wherein I confess me much guilty to

deny so fair and excellent ladies anything.

(I, ii, 17-74)

but it could also be used to indicate respect. Duke Senior often uses thou when addressing his subordinates but always receives you in return

Duke Art thou thus boldened man by thy distress?

Orlando You touched my vein at first.

(II, vii, and 5)

Frequently, a person in power used thou to a child or a subordinate but was addressed you in return. This invariably happens in the speeches between Adam and Orlando

Orlando Why whither Adam wouldst thou have me go?

Adam No matter whither, so you come not here.

(II, iii, -0)

One further pronominal reference warrants a comment. The third person pronouns he and it were frequently interchanged

Ill tell thee, Charles, it is the stubbornest young


(I, i, 140)

And whistles in his [its] sound.

(II, vii, 16)


Prepositions were less standardized in Elizabethan English than they are today, and so we find several uses in As You Like It that would have to be modified in contemporary speech. Among these are of for about in

...who perceiveth our natural wits too dull to

reason of such a goddess...

(I, ii, 51)

of for from in

Rosalind Where learned you that oath, fool?

Touchstone Of a certain knight....

(I, ii, 5-60)

up for off in

To fright the animals and kill them up

(II, i, 6)

and of for by in

...I were better to be married of him than of


(III, iii, 81-8)


Contemporary English requires only one negative per statement and regards such utterances as I havent none as nonstandard. Shakespeare often uses two or more negatives for emphasis, as when Celia advises Rosalind

But love no man in good earnest, nor no further

in sport neither, than with safety...

(I, ii, 6-7)

or when Orlando tells Jaques

Nor shalt not till necessity be served.

(II, vii, 0)

or when Rosalind, in the epilogue, assures the audience

What a case am I in then, that am neither a

good epilogue, nor cannot insinuate with you

in the behalf of a good play?

(V, iv, 04-06)


As You Like It is divided into five acts, which are subdivided into scenes. Many readers have commented that almost all the major events of the play occur in the first act and a half. The city characters are introduced and the necessary history is explained (exposition). Each of the major characters is given a reason to go to the Forest of Arden. After Act II, scene iii, only one short scene takes place in the city.

In the country, nothing happens quickly except the characters falling in love. The tension of the plot grows out of Rosalinds disguise. When will she reveal her true identity? What will happen when she does? In that sense, Rosalind has the power to end the play whenever she chooses. She takes time to explore the consequences of her disguise while discussing matters of love and philosophy. More confusions and additional pairs of lovers are added until Act V, scene ii, when Rosalind decides that its time to unmask herself. The four marriages in Act V, scene iv, the repentance of both villains, and the restoration of Duke Seniors dukedom all give the play an entirely happy ending. Music and dancing follow, after which Rosalind turns to the audience and delivers a short epilogue.


Shakespeare didnt create his plots from scratch but derived aspects of them from other sources. The basic story and many details of the plot of As You Like It come from a pastoral romance by Thomas Lodge entitled Rosalynde. (Lodge didnt invent the story, either; he based it on a 14th-century narrative poem called The Tale of Gamelyn.) Printed in 150, Lodges novel supplies the story of the exiled king, the hostility between the two brothers, the young maidens in disguise, the escape from the city to the forest, and the lovesick shepherds. Lodges Rosalynde also woos her lover while she is disguised as a man. The hero saves his wicked brothers life, after which the brother repents and falls in love with Rosalyndes friend.

Shakespeares alterations and additions are noteworthy. Lodges novel is bound by the conventions of the pastoral romance. The play is richer and more meaningful because it takes liberties with those conventions. Shakespeares Rosalind is more three-dimensional and human than Lodges, partly because Shakespeare gives her a sense of humor. Shakespeare also peoples his forest with characters, such as Touchstone and Jaques, who refuse to accept the pastoral ideal. The simpleminded rustics, such as Corin, William, and Audrey, are totally unlike the poetic shepherds of pastoral romances.


One of the most famous theaters of all time is the Globe Theatre. It was one of several Shakespeare worked in during his career and many of the greatest plays of English literature were performed there. Built in 15 for L600 just across the River Thames from London, it burned down in 161 when a spark from a cannon in a battle scene in Shakespeares Henry VIII set fire to the thatched roof. The theater was quickly rebuilt and survived until 1644. No one knows exactly what the Globe looked like but some scholarly detective work has given us a pretty good idea.

When it was built, the Globe was the latest thing in theater design. It was a three-story octagon (eight- sided building) with covered galleries surrounding an open yard some 50 feet across. Three sides of the octagon were devoted to the stage and backstage areas. The main stage was a raised platform that jutted into the center of the yard, or pit. Behind the stage was the tiring house- the backstage area where the actors dressed and waited for their cues. It was flanked by two doors and contained an inner stage with a curtain used when the script called for a scene to be discovered. (Some scholars think the inner stage was actually a tent or pavilion that could be moved about the stage.) Above the inner stage was the upper stage, a curtained balcony that could serve as the battlements in Hamlet or for the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. Most of the action of the play took place on the main and upper stages.

The third story held the musicians gallery and machinery for sound effects and pyrotechnics. Above all was a turret, from which a flag was flown to announce Performance today. A roof (the shadow) covered much of the stage and not only protected the players from sudden showers but also contained machinery needed for special effects. More machinery was located under the stage, where several trapdoors permitted the sudden appearance of ghosts in a play and allowed actors to leap into rivers or graves, as the script required.

For a penny (a days wages for an apprentice), you could stand with the groundlings in the yard to watch the play; another penny would buy you a seat in the upper galleries; and a third would get you a cushioned seat in the lower gallery- the best seats in the house. The audience would be a mixed crowd- scholars, courtiers, and merchants and their families in the galleries; rowdy apprentices and young men looking for excitement in the yard; and pickpockets and prostitutes taking advantage of the crowds to ply their trades. And crowds there would be- the Globe could probably hold ,000 to ,000 people, and even an ordinary performance would attract a crowd of 1,00.

The play you came to see would be performed in broad daylight during the warmer months. In colder weather, Shakespeares troupe appeared indoors at court or in one of Londons private theaters. There was no scenery as we know it, but there are indications that the Elizabethans used simple set pieces such as trees, bowers, or battle tents to indicate location. Any props needed were readied in the tiring house by the book keeper (wed call him the stage manager) and carried on and off by actors. If time or location were important, the characters usually said something about it. Trumpet flourishes told the audience that an important character was about to enter, rather like a modern spotlight, and a scene ended when all the characters left the stage. (Bodies of dead characters were carried off stage.) Little attention was paid to historical accuracy in plays such as Julius Caesar or Macbeth, and actors wore contemporary clothing. One major difference from the modern theater was that all female parts were played by young boys; Elizabethan custom did not permit women to act.

If the scenery was minimal, the performance made up for it in costumes and spectacle. English actors were famous throughout Europe for their skill as dancers, and some performances ended with a dance (or jig). Blood, in the form of animal blood or red paint, was lavished about in the tragedies; ghosts made sudden appearances amid swirling fog; thunder was simulated by rolling a cannonball along the wooden floor of the turret or by rattling a metal sheet. The costumes were gorgeous- and expensive! One robe of estate alone cost L1, a years wages for a skilled workman of the time. But the costumes were a large part of the spectacle that the audience came to see, and they had to look impressive in broad daylight, with the audience right up close.

Youve learned some of the conventions of the Globe Theatre, a theater much simpler than many of ours but nevertheless offering Shakespeare a wide range of possibilities for staging his plays. Now lets see how specific parts of As You Like It might have been presented at the Globe.

If you could slip back in time and see As You Like It at the Globe, you might be surprised at the speed of the play. A modern production of Shakespeare takes at least two and a half hours, and thats with part of the play omitted. But back in Shakespeares day, plays took only about two hours. This could be done because there was no real break between scenes, and no scenery had to be shifted. Instead, different parts of the stage could be used.

Imagine how this could work in As You Like It. The first scene of Act I would take place on the main stage; then the second and third scenes, set in rooms in the palace, could be acted on the inner stage. The first scene of Act II (remember, no break between acts) would be back on the main stage for the forest. The next scene, another room in the palace, could use the balcony stage. Then one side of the main stage could serve for Scene iii, in front of Olivers house, represented by the door. For Scene iv Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone could enter from the other side of the stage and Rosalind would announce, This is the Forest of Arden. Each scene would follow on the heels of the one before it, so that the play would move very quickly.




Orlando de Boys has taken just about as much abuse from his brother, Oliver, as he intends to stomach. Their father, Sir Rowland de Boys, is dead, and Oliver, as the eldest brother of three, has taken charge of the family. Old Sir Rowland made Oliver promise to give his brothers, Jaques and Orlando, a good education. Oliver kept part of his word by sending Jaques off to school. Orlando, however, has been forced to remain at home and denied an education. Oliver also refuses to give Orlando the thousand crowns his father left him.

The play begins in Olivers garden. Talking to Adam, an old family servant for many years, Orlando lists his grievances. His brother treats him as if he were an ox or a horse. Actually, Oliver treats the horses better than he treats Orlando, because at least the horses are taught how to behave. Oliver acts as if Orlando werent his brother, even making Orlando eat with the hired hands. Although he hasnt the means to fight back, Orlando declares he will no longer stand for this treatment.

It is always important when reading a scene in Shakespeare to look not only at what the characters say but also at how they say it. The imagery in this speech makes use of the Elizabethan sense of natural order. Elizabethans believed that whether you were an angel or a groundhog, you had a fixed rank ordained by God. One example of the application of that theory was the divine right of kings. Rulers were placed on the throne by God. If you deposed the king, you were offending God as well as man.

By assigning Orlando a place lower than that of his animals, Oliver is violating the natural order, which places a man above a beast and a brother above a hired hand. When Orlando says that his fathers spirit within him rebels against this servitude, he means that the right and natural order is trying to assert itself.


One of the difficulties that faces any playwright at the beginning of a play is the handling of the exposition- information the audience needs in order to understand the situation. In several plays (such as Romeo and Juliet and Henry V), Shakespeare uses a prologue, in which a character speaks directly to the audience and sets the scene. Here, Orlando speaks to his servant, Adam, rather than to the audience. But by listening to his complaint, you learn all you need to know about the first major conflict of the play.

LINES 4-81

Adam warns Orlando that Oliver is coming. When the older brother enters, you see that Orlando was telling the truth. Oliver makes no attempt to hide his contempt for his brother. He behaves as if his brother has no business in the orchard and asks Orlando what hes doing there, using the Elizabethan phrase What make you here? Orlando stands up to Oliver, sarcastically replying that hes not making anything because he hasnt been taught how. Oliver returns the sarcasm, concluding that if Orlando is not making anything he must be marring (spoiling) something. Orlando agrees hes helping Oliver to spoil one of Gods creations- himself.

NOTE The wordplay in this exchange is remarkable. The entire sequence evolves out of Olivers use of the word make. Orlando cleverly twists the meaning of the word and throws it back at him. Oliver does the same, and so on. This type of punning will be used frequently in the play to serve various functions. Here, the wordplay underscores the contempt the two brothers feel for each other.

Orlando confronts his brother with the fact that Olivers behavior is unnatural and therefore wrong. Orlando emphasizes that he does not want to usurp his brothers place. He respects Olivers privileges as the oldest brother. That, however, does not alter the fact that Orlando is a member of the family, too.

Even this respectful rebellion makes Oliver lose his temper. He hits Orlando, but the younger brother is by far the better fighter. Orlando seizes Oliver, according to the script (probably, in a wrestling hold- you will soon discover hes an expert wrestler). He will not let go until he has voiced his complaint. He repeats what he said in his opening speech- that their father made Oliver promise to educate Orlando, and Oliver has not done it. Now, Orlando wants to be trained as a gentleman or given his thousand crowns and left to find his own way.

NOTE In Shakespeares day, the least expensive places were on the ground floor of the playhouse. There, members of the audience, called groundlings, stood for the performance. Since food vendors passed among them during the show, the groundlings did not always give the stage their undivided attention. Therefore, important information was often repeated several times, as it is here.

After making his brother listen, Orlando releases him. Oliver informs Orlando that, to be rid of him, he will hand over some part of his inheritance. Orlando repeats that he wants only what hes entitled to, then leaves. Calling Adam an old dog, Oliver sends him away also.

Adam says very little in this scene, but his presence helps make the difference between the brothers crystal clear. Notice that Orlando treats the old man, who was Sir Rowlands servant, with respect, using him as a confidant. Orlandos good relationship with Adam indicates that hes like his father. On the other hand, Oliver demonstrates how different he is from their father by calling Adam an old dog. Look at what Adam says to Oliver as he leaves God be with my old master; he would not have spoke such a word.

LINES 8-155

Left alone, Oliver declares his intention to put Orlando in his place without giving up a thousand crowns. He calls for his servant Dennis and asks whether Charles, the wrestler, is still waiting to talk to him. Dennis says that Charles is at the door.

NOTE Observe how swiftly Shakespeare gets his plot moving. Oliver needs some means to punish Orlando, and Charles conveniently waits outside. The first act is dense with events. In later acts, the pace of the plot will slow down. More time will be given to character development and comic interaction between the characters.

Charles, a huge, thickly muscled wrestler, lumbers in and greets Oliver. As the two converse, you learn about the situation at court. Notice Olivers pointed question Whats the new news at the new court? You have to wonder why the court is new. Then you find out It is new because it is now headed by a usurper- the old Duke is banished by his younger brother the new Duke.

Once again, the natural order has been disturbed. Today, you might wonder whether the old duke was deposed because he was a bad ruler. (In The Tempest, Shakespeare shows you that Prospero was easy to depose because he did not attend to business.) You might allow for the possibility that the new duke led a just and necessary revolution. But to the Elizabethan way of thinking, the old duke was clearly the ruler God intended for the country. The new duke must be in the wrong. Whats more, the new duke is the old dukes younger brother. As Orlando has said, a younger brother must respect his older brothers rights and privileges.

Oliver questions Charles about the old dukes daughter, Rosalind. It seems that Rosalind has not gone into exile with her father. Because she and the new dukes daughter are so close, Rosalind has stayed behind in the new dukes court.

Oliver then asks where the old duke will live. Look carefully at Charless answer, because it introduces a major theme of the play

They say he is already in the Forest of Arden,

and a many merry men with him; and there

they live like the old Robin Hood of England.

They say many young gentlemen flock to him

every day, and fleet the time carelessly as they

did in the golden world.

In Shakespeares time, many people believed life in the country to be healthier, happier, and more natural than city life. Today you still hear people talking about the joys of getting back to nature. But is a person who lives in the country happier than a city person? There was a genre of literature in Shakespeares day called pastoral. Pastoral novels, poems, and plays celebrated country life as an ideal existence. Shepherds, shepherdesses, and other rustic types were portrayed as naturally eloquent, graceful, and generally close to God. This play will examine that convention. The rumor that Charles reports holds that the old duke and his companions live in the forest as if it were a golden world, a Garden of Eden. When the action of the play moves to Arden, you can form your own opinion about the reality.

NOTE This conversation provides more exposition. If you stop to think about it, Oliver would probably know all the news that Charles reports. The audience needs the information, however. Remember that Shakespeares plays were written to be performed, not read. In a performance, the audience would have no time to stop and wonder why Charles is telling Oliver what he should already know.

Oliver launches into his plot. He asks if Charles will be wrestling the next day. Charles answers yes. In fact, thats why hes come to see Oliver. Charles has heard that Orlando intends to challenge him, and hes afraid of hurting Orlando. Could Oliver talk his brother out of wrestling?

Since Oliver secretly wants to get rid of Orlando, he convinces Charles that Orlando is evil and treacherous. He warns the wrestler that if Orlando loses the match but survives, Orlando will find some way to kill Charles. Oliver lies skillfully. In his false description of Orlando, he presents an accurate picture of himself He says that Orlando is a secret and villainous contriver against... his natural brother. Charles thanks Oliver for the warning and promises at least to cripple Orlando in the next days match.

Shakespeare accomplishes two things in Olivers long speech to Charles. Oliver seems even more evil when you realize that he fully understands how wrong it is to plot against ones own brother. He knows that Charles will be shocked to learn how unnatural Orlando is. At the same time, the speech is humorous. One level of humor lies in the dramatic situation. You can imagine that Charles is powerful but rather slow-witted. Its amusing to watch Oliver deceive him with fancy talk. There is also humor in the language. After Oliver describes in juicy detail how horrible Orlando is, he adds, I speak but brotherly of him!

LINES 156-65

In a soliloquy, Oliver talks about his feelings toward Orlando. Characters often voice their private thoughts in a soliloquy. Because they are alone and talking only to themselves, you can trust they are telling the truth.

Oliver hopes he will be rid of Orlando, because my soul, yet I know not why, hates nothing more than he. The statement that his soul hates Orlando suggests that the feeling is very deep. Although Oliver says he doesnt know the cause, you can guess at his motives from looking at the rest of his speech. He acknowledges that Orlando is gentle, naturally wise, noble, and well loved. In fact, people like Orlando so much they scorn Oliver. It seems that jealousy drives Oliver to hate his brother.

NOTE This scene uses a pattern of telling and showing that will be repeated often in the play. First, you are told that Oliver mistreats his brother. Then, Oliver enters and you see him abuse Orlando. Later, Oliver says he wants to get rid of Orlando. When Charles comes in, you see Oliver plotting to do just that. You were also told that Rosalind and the new dukes daughter are loving cousins. In the very next scene, this relationship will be demonstrated.


LINES 1-41

The scene shifts to the palace of Duke Frederick. His daughter, Celia, is trying to cheer up her cousin Rosalind. Because of her love for Celia, Rosalind remained at court when her father, the old duke, was banished to the forest. Still, she misses her father.

Celia concludes that Rosalind must not love her as much as she loves Rosalind. She insists that, if the situation were reversed, she would teach herself to think of Rosalinds father as her own. Rosalind agrees to be happy for Celias sake.

From this conversation you learn about the nature of Rosalinds love for her father and for her cousin. Notice that she does not agree to think of Celias father as her own. It might be politically wise to do so, since the new dukes control of the land seems absolute. Rosalinds love for her father, however, cannot be affected by such considerations.

At the same time, her loving friendship with Celia isnt affected by the wickedness of Celias father. For Celias sake, Rosalind promises to be happy. This kind of nonsexual love between members of the same sex was portrayed frequently in Renaissance literature. Usually, however, the friendship was between two men.

Rosalind proposes to devise sports to keep them amused. As a joke, she asks Celia what she thinks of falling in love. Celia replies that love is all right, as long as its treated only as a sport. Never get too involved, she warns. As the play progresses, remember Rosalind and Celias joking attitude on this subject. When each one really falls in love, it will be in earnest, not in sport.

Celia would rather make sport of the goddess Fortune (luck) Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally. The girls agree that undeserving people often seem to have good luck.


In their joking, Rosalind and Celia touch upon a major theme of As You Like It the difference between Fortune and Nature. For example, Orlandos spirit is noble. Hes honest, faithful, and sincere. Those are gifts endowed by Nature. Fortune, however, has denied him the worldly privileges to which he is entitled. Olivers own nature is anything but noble. He is mean and petty. Yet, Fortune has rewarded him with worldly power and goods. Most of the good characters in the play will be made to suffer because Fortune gives their ignoble enemies power over them. Eventually, the injustice will be corrected as the wheel of Fortune makes its inevitable turn.

LINES 4-14

Rosalind and Celia find a better object for their sport when a clown or professional fool named Touchstone approaches them. They immediately turn to making fun of him by wondering whether Fortune or Nature is responsible for his coming. They make a pun of the fact that when Elizabethans called a person a natural, they meant he was an idiot.

Touchstone tells Celia that her father wants to see her. He says that by mine honor, I was bid to come for you. The girls tease him, asking where he learned the oath by mine honor.

Touchstones answer demonstrates clearly that hes not an idiot but is, in fact, quite clever. He learned the oath from a knight, who swore to something that was not true, yet did not swear falsely. The girls want to know how that is possible. Touchstone stages a demonstration. He instructs the girls to swear by their beards that he is a knave (villain). They do so. Now, he says, although he is not a knave, they have not sworn falsely. The reason? They have sworn by something that does not exist. And thats just what the knight was doing when he swore by his honor!

NOTE Touchstone is an allowed fool. As such, he has the right to say just about anything to anybody without being punished. From that privileged position, the fool can make fun of the behavior of those around him. Just as some modern comedians, the Elizabethan fool would mimic the pretenses, hypocrisies, and follies of his patrons. In doing so, he would not only cause them to laugh but would also help those willing to learn about themselves.

The discussion of foolery (the allowed fools art) is interrupted by the entrance of Le Beau, who is truly foolish. Le Beau dresses like a dandy and affects an elaborate manner of speech. By doing these things he considers himself in fashion and believes that others will be impressed. He has come to tell the ladies that they are missing what he calls good sport.

Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone team up to make fun of Le Beau. He can barely get out a few words before they pounce and begin confusing him with puns.

Finally, amid continual interruptions by the clown and the ladies, Le Beau delivers his news- there is to be a wrestling match the ladies might enjoy. He describes how Charles the wrestler has just disabled three challengers. Touchstone questions whether such sport is good entertainment for ladies. The decision is made for them, however, because the next match is to take place right where they are.

NOTE In Le Beau, Shakespeare creates a character who demonstrates one of the dangers of city life. Le Beau spends all his time and energy trying to appear fashionable in order to win the approval of others. Hell wear any ridiculous piece of clothing if he believes that others will like him in it. In trying to assume whatever identity he thinks will be popular, he loses touch with his natural self.

LINES 144-58

A flourish of trumpets announces the entrance of Duke Frederick (Celias father) and his attendants. Charles the wrestler and Orlando follow them in. Having tried unsuccessfully to convince Orlando that, for his own safety, he should forget about wrestling, the duke asks Rosalind and Celia to try their luck at dissuading him. Its interesting that a wicked character like Duke Frederick would be worried about Orlandos safety. Does Shakespeare want to convey to the audience that the duke has human feelings or is he simply indicating that Orlando is in danger? The duke is subject to swift changes of temper, as you will soon see. His sympathy in this scene could be meant to contrast with the anger he will soon display.

Duke Frederick stands aside as Le Beau summons Orlando, who respectfully presents himself to the ladies. Celia points out that Charles has already demonstrated his fearsome strength. Rosalind offers to make it appear that the match was canceled at her and Celias request. That way, no harm would be done to Orlandos reputation.

Orlando answers graciously but firmly that, although he hates to deny any request from such lovely ladies, he will wrestle. He explains that he cannot lose any reputation, because he has none. Orlando displays neither fear nor boastfulness, but only calm resolution. Does his claim that he has nothing to lose sound like self-pity to you? Why? The ladies seem to interpret it as genuine humility.

The match is about to begin. Charles makes fun of Orlando. Clearly, the wrestler believes he has nothing to fear from this young man. As Charles and Orlando tangle, Rosalind and Celia root for Orlando. Suddenly, to the complete surprise of the crowd, Orlando throws Charles. The duke declares the match over, although Orlando complains that hes hardly winded. Charles, however, must be carried off.

The duke congratulates Orlando and asks his name. When Orlando says that hes the son of Sir Rowland de Boys- a friend of the banished duke- Duke Frederick abruptly turns cold. Although the world loved your father, says the duke, I considered him my enemy. What does that tell you about the duke? Remember that Oliver made a similar statement about Orlando. You are a brave young man, the duke tells Orlando, but I wish you had a different father. So saying, the duke leaves.

Orlando cries out that he is proud to be Sir Rowlands son and would not change that calling / To be adopted heir to Frederick. Appalled by the dukes rude dismissal of Orlando, Celia suggests to Rosalind that they congratulate the young man. Celia assures him he has done well. If he keeps his promises in love as well as in fighting, he will make his mistress happy, she adds. Rosalind presents him with a chain that shes been wearing around her neck. She calls it a gift from one out of suits with Fortune. Shes telling him that she understands his feelings because she is in the same predicament herself.

In this brief scene, Orlando and Rosalind have fallen in love. Love at first sight will, in fact, be the pattern for this play. Orlando finds himself tongue-tied, unable even to say thank you, as the ladies depart.


Orlando wonders whats come over him. He admits hes been overthrown by something weaker than Charles (Rosalind). The use of wrestling imagery underscores the irony. Orlando, who has easily handled a powerful wrestler, is overpowered by a beautiful young woman.

Le Beau enters to give Orlando a warning. The duke, he cautions, is humorous- that is, given to sudden mood changes. He implies that the duke now considers Orlando his enemy. Le Beau suggests that it might be wise for Orlando to imagine how cruel the duke can be, but it would be distinctly unwise for Le Beau to speak of it. Frederick, knowing he has no right to the throne, lives in fear of being overthrown and will banish or kill anybody he doesnt trust.

After thanking Le Beau, Orlando asks which of the two young ladies who were at the wrestling is Duke Fredericks daughter. Neither, if you judge by their behavior, replies Le Beau. But the smaller girl is his daughter. Note that Shakespeare is making it very clear that Celia shares none of her fathers wickedness.

NOTE In the first printed editions of As You Like It, Le Beau says that the taller girl is the dukes daughter, but its clear from the rest of the text that Rosalind is taller. Therefore, many later editors have changed the line to read smaller. Such carelessness in the original versions reflects the fact that Shakespeares plays were not published until after his death. In his day, plays were not generally considered literature. The position of the playwright was similar to that of a modern television writer. Successful ones were well paid, but nobody expected the scripts to be read and produced by future generations.

Le Beau explains that Rosalind is the daughter of the banished duke, and that although she and Celia are like sisters, Le Beau fears that Frederick may attempt to harm her. The duke has come to fear her because the people love her. Again, the dukes reasoning sounds like Olivers. These two villains are envious of anybody who is well liked.

After Le Beau leaves, Orlando reflects on his unhappy situation-caught between two tyrants. But now at least he has something to be glad about. As he leaves, he cries, But heavenly Rosalind!



Celia cannot figure out why Rosalind now seems even more sad than before. She begs Rosalind to speak just one word to her. Rosalind puts her off, saying she hasnt one word to throw at a dog. Celia knows her friend well, so she starts making puns about throwing words. As Celia hoped, Rosalind cannot resist joining in the wordplay. She admits that this melancholy is not all for her father. Some of it, she says, is for my childs father- in other words, for the man she hopes will be her husband, Orlando.

Rosalind is lovesick. Lets examine how Shakespeare expresses her state through the use of imagery (what the words make you see). O, how full of briers is this working-day world! she cries. Briers are prickly twigs that catch on your clothes. Rosalind compares the way love has suddenly captured her with the way a brier attaches itself unexpectedly. When Celia points out that briers can be shaken off skirts, Rosalind replies that these briers are in her heart. Now, the image has full impact and meaning- briers in the heart would be painful and nearly impossible to remove. Love is the same way.

NOTE A statement such as love is a brier uses a poetic technique called metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison of two elements made without the use of the words like or as. A similar technique, called simile, uses like or as. Thus, you might say, The wrestler Charles is as big as a bear. That would be a simile. Or you might just say, Charles is a bear. That is a metaphor. Both techniques use imagery to describe something. Draw up a list of the next five similes and five metaphors you come across in As you Like It. What, if anything, do they add to your enjoyment of the play?

Celia tries to reason Rosalind out of her feeling. She argues that Rosalind has fallen for Orlando too quickly. Rosalind counters that her father loved his father so it makes sense that she should love Orlando. By that logic, I should hate him, says Celia, because my father hated his father.


Duke Frederick enters angrily. He announces that Rosalind must leave the court within ten days or be executed. She cannot understand why he should turn on her so suddenly. What has she done? Has she said anything to offend him? He replies that traitors are always careful not to say anything that could get them into trouble. When Rosalind presses him for a more specific reason for his distrust, he says, Thou art thy fathers daughter, theres enough. Rosalind boldly speaks the truth My father was no traitor.

Celia tries to intervene. She describes how close she and Rosalind have become. The duke accuses Rosalind of stealing the affection of the people away from Celia. His daughter is about to argue with him when he tells her to be silent. His decision is made. Rosalind is banished. If she must go, then I will, too, vows Celia. Assuming she is bluffing, the duke calls her a fool and leaves. The dukes behavior demonstrates how insecure a usurper must be. Frederick knows he has no right to the position he holds. He lives in fear that somebody will do to him what he did to his brother. He misinterprets Rosalinds virtuous behavior as a plot to undermine his position.

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When the ladies are left alone, Celia proves her love for Rosalind. She was not bluffing when she said that she would share her friends banishment. Her father can find another heir. In other words, she will give up a kingdom to stay with Rosalind.

Celia proposes that they join her uncle, Rosalinds father, in the Forest of Arden. Getting there will be dangerous for a pair of young women, so they decide to travel in disguise. Celia suggests that they dress as poor peasants. Rosalind decides that, since she is unusually tall for a woman, she will disguise herself as a man. For a name she chooses Ganymede. (In Greek mythology, Ganymede was the page of Zeus, king of the gods.) Celia gives herself a name that reflects her outcast state- Aliena (from the Latin, which meant the same as our alien.)

NOTE Shakespeares theater had no actresses. Acting was not considered a respectable profession for women. Therefore, all the womens parts were originally played by young boys. Its difficult for us to contemplate that tender love scenes, such as those between a Romeo and a Juliet could be portrayed effectively by two young men, but apparently it worked. When Rosalind disguised herself as a boy, then a boy was playing a girl who was playing a boy. Elizabethan audiences loved such complications. Also, since a boy was playing the part, the disguise would have been convincing!

The young women add one more element to their plot. They decide to take Touchstone along to amuse them. Celia offers to coax him to come, saying he is devoted to her. Neither girl seems sad about leaving home. They look forward to their journey Now go in we content / To liberty, and not to banishment. Their sentiment is in keeping with the popular idea that life in the country is carefree.

Having had a glimpse of city life, you are now about to see what life is like in the country. The events so far serve to get some of the major characters from the city to the country. Duke Senior is there already, and now Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone are on their way. It will be important to have Touchstone along, because, whenever he is present, he pierces pretenses and clarifies what is really going on.


What have the old duke (Duke Senior) and his followers been doing in the Forest of Arden? In this scene, you get your first view of their country life. Because the play is set in France, the place must be the Forest of Ardennes. In none of Shakespeares plays, however, do you find much concern with realistic details of a foreign place. Since As You Like It borrows the conventions of pastoral fiction, you can think of the country setting as any forest, anywhere. In his minds eye, Shakespeare may very well have seen the Forest of Arden near his birthplace of Stratford-on-Avon.

The duke delivers a discourse to his lords about their life in the forest. He praises the honesty of the rustic life. When he feels the cold wind blow against him, he knows that its real, and not the invention of some flattering courtier who wants to get on his good side. Though they all suffer from exposure to the elements and other hardships, the very difficulty of life there teaches them so many valuable lessons that they should be grateful.

This speech neatly sums up the idealization of the natural life contained in pastoral literature. Does the duke mean what hes saying or is he trying to make the best of a bad situation? You know what he means when he talks about the envious court, because youve seen the terrible acts Duke Frederick and Oliver are driven to by envy. Still, does the duke prefer life in the forest? That question cant be answered yet, but keep it in mind as you read.

Amiens compliments the duke on being able to find good in what others would consider bad fortune. Once again the theme of Fortune is introduced. By Nature (and the will of God), the duke should be ruling the land. Fortune has made him an outcast but as every Elizabethan knew, Fortunes frowns could be reversed in time.

One of the realities of country life faces the duke and the others right now. They need to kill venison so they can eat. The duke mentions how he regrets having to kill animals, who are native to the forest (as he is not). Another lord picks up on that theme by telling the duke that another member of their band, Jaques feels the same way. Jaques, in fact, says that what the duke is doing to the animals in the forest is worse than what the dukes brother did to him in the city. The lord describes how he and Amiens secretly followed Jaques earlier that day. Jaques found a wounded deer lying by the river. As he watched it suffer, he delivered a sermon on the injustice of killing a deer in its natural dwelling place. Apparently, Jaques went on at great length about the insensitivity of mankind.

The duke seems pleased to hear this news. He wants the lords to take him to Jaques, so that he can debate with him. With the lords leading the way, they all leave.


Though Jaques does not affect the plot, he is a major character in As You Like It. Two thirds of this scene are devoted to introducing him. Lets look at what you learn. First, he is melancholy (sad). The fact that Amiens twice refers to him as the melancholy Jaques suggests that his depression is not a passing mood, but a permanent state. You also learn that he likes to moralize. When he encounters the suffering animal, he uses it to illustrate as many moral lessons as he can think of. Notice that he does nothing to help the animal. He doesnt put it out of its misery. He simply uses its fate as a pretext to criticize the world.

Jaques sounds like an unpleasant person to be around, and in a way he is. But people seem to find his oversentimentality amusing. The two lords thought it worth their time to spy on him, just in case he had something to say. And when the duke hears their report, he immediately wants to be taken to see Jaques.


Back in the palace, Duke Frederick has discovered Celias disappearance. Nobody saw her go, but an investigation has turned up two facts. First, the clown Touchstone disappeared at the same time. Second, Celia and Rosalind were overheard praising Orlando after the wrestling. It is thought that, wherever the cousins have gone, Orlando must be with them. The duke orders that Orlando be brought to him at once. If Orlando cannot be found, his brother Oliver should be brought in his place. The duke will force Oliver to find his brother.

This short scene confirms that Rosalind and Celia have carried out their plan. They have taken Touchstone and are heading for the Forest of Arden. The scene also serves as a reminder of the nasty goings- on at the envious court.


Orlando, of course, knows nothing about what Rosalind and Celia have done. Walking into Olivers house, he finds the old servant Adam in an agitated state. The old man warns Orlando that his noble virtues are his enemies, because they make others plot to kill him. His own brother is so envious of the praise Orlando has won in the wrestling match that he plans to murder Orlando by setting fire to the place where he sleeps that night. Adam urges Orlando to get away from the house and never come to it again.

NOTE Observe how the theme of natural vs. unnatural shapes Adams warning. He calls Orlando you memory / Of old Sir Rowland, while he cannot even bring himself to say that Oliver is Orlandos brother or Sir Rowlands son. And what a perverted world they must live in if its dangerous to be gentle, strong, and valiant!

Orlando protests that he has no place to go and no money to feed himself. He would have to beg or steal his food, and he would rather die than do either. Adam offers his life savings to Orlando, trusting that God, who takes good care of the raven and the sparrow, will see to an old mans needs. All he asks is to go along with Orlando as his servant.

Overcome with emotion, Orlando says that Adam is a reminder of the old world where men worked out of a sense of duty. Now, people work only for gain. He thanks Adam for his genuine faithfulness and wishes that he could do more to repay his goodness. They will go off together to find some humble means of living.

Adam and Orlando both represent the past, a time idealized as free from greed and envy. Aged Adam is a holdover from that time. Although Orlando is young, his nature is more suited to the virtues of the antique world than the vices of the modern one. Orlando and Adam are able to admire the good qualities in each other without being envious. Each wants only what he is naturally entitled to. Orlando does not look down on living a humble life. Adam demonstrates how little he cares for worldly things by giving away his savings. His final lines in the scene show that living an honorable life is his main concern

Yet fortune cannot recompense me better

Than to die well and not my masters debtor.

NOTE You have probably noticed that each scene ends with a pair of lines that rhyme, as these do. These rhyming couplets give a sense of finality to the conclusion of the scene and end it with a flourish. In Shakespeares time they also served as guideposts to the groundlings, who could sometimes be inattentive. (Today, we often indicate the end of a scene by drawing the stage curtain.)


Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone finally reach the Forest of Arden. They are too tired from walking to celebrate their arrival. All they want is to sit down. Touchstone quickly makes it clear that he will puncture any pretension around him. When Rosalind complains that her spirits are weary, Touchstone drily comments I care not for my spirits if my legs were not weary.

Rosalind announces that they are in the Forest of Arden.

NOTE While its not uncommon for a traveler to say Were here, Shakespeare had a special reason for giving Rosalind that announcement. His theater did not use scenery, as the modern theater generally does. No green tree boughs would be lowered to indicate that they are in the forest, for instance. Therefore, all important information about location, time of day, or weather had to be made plain in the dialogue. How could such a drawback as the lack of scenery be made into an asset for a playwright?

Touchstones opinion of the forest differs from what the banished duke said two scenes ago. Ay, now am I in Arden, the more fool I. When I was at home, I was in a better place. This speech is one of the first clues that this play will not simply expound the pastoral viewpoint. Touchstone expertly mocks everything he comes in contact with. He will certainly make fun of the idea that the Forest of Arden is like the Garden of Eden.

They are interrupted by a pair of shepherds, who are engaged in a serious discussion of love. Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone stand back and listen.

Corin, an old shepherd, is offering advice to his young friend, Silvius about how to handle the woman he loves. Silvius doesnt believe that the old man knows about love. Hes convinced that nobody has ever loved as he does. How many acts of madness was Corin driven to by love in his youth, asks Silvius? A thousand, answers Corin, but he has forgotten them. Silvius insists that, if Corin has forgotten even the slightest detail of what love made him do, then he was never really in love. If Corin never made his friends tired of listening to his mistresss praise, he never loved. Finally, he claims that Corin never loved if he never abruptly broke off a conversation. As if to prove his point, Silvius suddenly runs off, crying the name of his beloved O Phebe, Phebe, Phebe!

NOTE Just as the old dukes speech in the first scene of Act II sums up the pastoral attitude toward nature, this scene shows how a lover behaves in pastoral fiction. Silvius is typical of this type of stock character. He is a shepherd who has no time for tending sheep. Love is his only concern. Though uneducated, he speaks about love in elaborate verse. The names Silvius and Phebe were commonly used for these characters in pastoral romances. Its obvious that Shakespeare is having a good time poking fun at those old stories.

In case anybody failed to notice how ridiculous Silviuss behavior was, Touchstone mimics him. Silvius has just listed some of the ridiculously romantic actions lovers are driven to, so Touchstone makes his own, even sillier, list. He even claims to have kissed the udders of a cow because his ladys hands had milked them. He mockingly concludes by saying that, if you are in love, you cannot avoid acting foolish.

Rosalind tells Touchstone that hes wiser than he knows. Though she does not give herself over to foolish behavior as Silvius does, she understands exactly how he feels. She may even view his behavior as a warning against giving in too completely to the urges of romantic love. That might explain why she treats Orlando as she does when she next meets him. You cannot be sure, but keep this encounter in mind, so you can form your own opinion.

Celias concerns at this moment are practical. Since shes famished, she suggests they ask Corin for food. Though hed like to help, Corin has nothing to give. He works for another, a miserly and inhospitable man whose cottage stands nearby. The cottage and its lands are for sale, Corin explains. But his master is away, so there isnt much food. Hell share what little he has with them, though.

Rosalind asks who intends to buy the cottage. The young man who just ran off is supposed to, Corin tells her, but he obviously isnt thinking about buying anything right now. Rosalind immediately offers to buy the cottage, its land, and its flock of sheep. Celia adds that they will hire Corin to work for them and pay him better than his current master does. Corin agrees to arrange the purchase and to stay on as their servant.


Pay attention to the difference between the two shepherds who have just come into the story. As youve seen, Silvius resembles the shepherds of pastoral romances. Shakespeare has introduced this character in order to parody the genre. He makes this point clear by having Touchstone mock Silviuss love talk and by providing a more realistic shepherd, Corin, to whom you can compare Silvius. All Silvius thinks or talks about is love. He spends his time making up verses and pursuing his beloved. Corin has a hard life, working for a miserly landowner. His speech is simple and direct. He does not try be witty, but there is humor in his response to Touchstones assertion that the fool and his companions are Corins betters Else are they very wretched. Notice how Corin discusses the sale of the cottage with Rosalind and Celia. Only a real shepherd would know all the particulars he wants them to be aware of before buying the place.


In another part of the forest, Jaques and several of the lords from the banished dukes train are strolling. Amiens sings a song about the sweetness of life in the forest. When the song ends, Jaques asks to hear more. Amiens would rather stop. More singing would make Jaques melancholy, he says. Jaques responds that it pleases him to be melancholy. No excuse Amiens makes satisfies Jaques. Amiens says he doesnt have a good voice, so his singing will not please Jaques. Jaques counters that he did not ask to be pleased, he asked to hear a song.

In this scene, Jaques confirms what you heard about his melancholy nature. You also see that he is surly and argumentative. Pressing Amiens to sing, he asks whether the verses of a song are called stanzos. Amiens replies that he may call them that if he likes. Jaques, who asked the question to begin with, states rudely that he doesnt care what they are named. Cynically, he adds that he only needs to know the names of people who owe him money.

Amiens tells his friends to set the table, because the duke is coming. He informs Jaques that the duke has been looking for him, but Jaques says the duke is too argumentative for his taste!

Amiens and the other lords join together to sing another verse in praise of the simple life in the forest. Anybody who will give up ambition and enjoy lifes basics- living in the sun, eating the food you catch yourself- should come to the forest, says the verse. Jaques make up his own verse to finish the song. His stanza says that if anybody is stupid enough to give up the comforts of civilization, he should come to the forest, where he will find others as foolish as he is. Then, Jaques abruptly announces that hes going to take a nap.


Have you ever known a person for whom nothing is ever right, a person ready to criticize everything you do or say? Thats Jaques, whose criticisms do not seem to come out of a desire to improve anything. He just likes to criticize or take the opposing point of view. For example, while the others praise forest life, he criticizes it. Yet at the end of the play, the others will go back to the city, and Jaques will choose to stay in the forest.


Two more travelers arrive in the Forest of Arden- Orlando and Adam. Like Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone, they have had a rough journey. The old servant is weak from exertion and lack of food. Orlando makes Adam comfortable, then leaves to find food for him.

In your opinion, what are the purposes of this short scene? You should be able to suggest at least two.



The duke has joined the lords, but Jaques has gone away. Exasperated, the duke concludes that Jaques must have been turned into an animal, because he cannot find him anywhere. When one of the lords replies that Jaques was with them recently, the duke asks the lord to fetch Jaques.

NOTE This passing mention of the transformation of man into beast underscores the fact that forests were thought to be inhabited by fairies who could perform all sorts of magical mischief. That theme, of course, is found in Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Before the lord can go to seek him, Jaques appears, laughing merrily. Surprised, the duke asks what has happened to put him in such a good humor. In answer, Jaques describes how he met a fool in the forest. When Jaques saw this man wearing motley (the many-colored outfit worn by professional jesters), he greeted him Good morrow, fool. The fools response was cynical Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me fortune. In other words, he said that foolish people have the best luck. Next, the fool took a sundial from his pocket and used it to explain his philosophy of life At ten oclock, he said, it is an hour after nine and an hour before eleven. And so, continued the fool, from hour to hour we ripe and ripe, / And then, from hour to hour we rot and rot; / And thereby hangs a tale. Jaques so enjoyed what the fool said that he burst out laughing and continued laughing for an entire hour, according to the fools sundial.

Obviously, Jaques is delighted to encounter somebody as cynical as he is. Actually, he has just been ridiculed by Touchstone, who is an excellent mimic. Jaques takes himself and his criticism of the world so seriously that he failed to realize that Touchstone was making fun of him. It is obvious that Touchstones wisdom is mere foolishness. The use of a sundial is equally ridiculous. Who laughs according to a clock? Besides, it would be hard to use a sundial in the forest among the shadows cast by the trees.

Jaques says he wants to be a fool himself. If he wore motley, then people would have to let him say anything he wanted to. Jaques is already a self-styled critic of the human race. As an allowed fool, he would have even more freedom to rail against anything and everything. Fools were treated as if they were mad. Therefore, nobody could take offense at any insult by a fool. Jaques boldly declares that, if he himself had the license to speak his mind, he could cleanse the foul body of th infected world.

The duke, ever ready to dispute with Jaques, points out that Jaques himself has committed every sin he rails against. Jaques defends his criticism by saying that it is not directed against any particular person, but against the sin itself. If an individual takes offense, he condemns himself. Jaques claims that as long as he doesnt slander anybody, he should be free to say what he likes. If the shoe fits...

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Orlando interrupts this argument between the duke and Jaques by bursting into the camp with his sword drawn. He orders them to stop eating. The duke shows a capacity for human understanding by asking this armed intruder whether his attack is motivated by desperate need or a common disregard for manners. Orlando answers that the dukes first guess was correct. Though he seems rude, he is inland bred- that is, raised in the city- and has some breeding.

NOTE Some readers, remembering Orlandos complaint in the first act that Oliver has denied him his education, find his claim to being well-bred contradictory. They may be right. Such contradictions do exist in Shakespeares plays. In Act I, scene ii, Le Beau says that Celia is taller than Rosalind, whereas its clear in the rest of the play that Rosalind is taller. In this case, however, Orlando may simply mean that he was wellborn. In other words, he may be saying, Im no ordinary thief.

The duke suggests that a gentle appeal will produce better results than threats. When Orlando confesses that hes nearly dead of hunger, the duke invites him to share their meal. Touched by the dukes kindness, Orlando softens. He explains that he had expected to find savages in such a desolate place. The duke assures him that they all have lived in the city and tells him to take whatever food he needs.

Orlando will not eat until he fetches old Adam. The duke promises that they will eat nothing until Orlando returns. Orlandos noble nature is demonstrated clearly by the fact that he puts his servants well- being before his own.

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The duke finds a lesson in Orlandos misfortune

Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy

This wide and universal theater

Presents more woeful pageants than the scene

Wherein we play in.

His comment is interesting, because in the first scene of this act, he spoke at great length about how happy he and his followers are in the forest.

NOTE This contradiction bears examination. Does his statement prove that all the talk about the joyful life in the forest is false? It is true that at the end of the play they will happily return to civilization. Perhaps he means that they are unhappy because Fortune has deprived them of their natural positions in the civilized world. In that case, they might truly enjoy their forest life but feel that the place they rightfully belong is in the city. How do you interpret the dukes lines?

Not to be outdone in sermonizing, Jaques borrows the dukes theater imagery to deliver his own oration. He declares that All the worlds a stage, / And all the men and women merely players. Each player enacts seven different parts during his lifetime first, the infant, who cries and throws up; second, the schoolboy, who whines because he has to go to school; third, the lover, who sighs and carries on foolishly; fourth, the soldier, who risks his life to gain fleeting fame; fifth, the justice, who dispenses common sense as if it were great wisdom; sixth, the old man, whose body is falling apart and whose once manly voice is becoming shrill as a childs; and seventh, the senile old man who becomes helpless as a child and then dies.

This famous speech, often called the Seven Ages of Man, presents a bleak and cynical view of life. But the grim sentiment is so beautifully expressed that the speech has become one of the most famous passages in Shakespeare. Some readers believe that it reflects Shakespeares own philosophy. They point out that, because Jaques stands apart from the action of the play, he could be Shakespeares spokesperson, present only to voice the authors views. Others hold that it is a mistake to view the speech separate from its dramatic function. Certainly it demonstrates Jaquess penchant for moralizing. Shakespeare could be pointing out that, if you adopt a cynical attitude, as Jaques has, you can find something sad in every part of life. You must decide whether you think that the play as a whole supports Jaquess cynical attitude or not.

As if in answer to Jaquess bleak portrait of life, Orlando enters with Adam. Orlandos love for the old man contradicts the idea that life is a sad and pointless pageant. Do you think that Shakespeare timed this entrance to prove that he disagreed with Jaquess statement?

As Adam and Orlando sit down to eat, Amiens sings a song. As usual, his theme is the sweetness of life in the forest. This song says that the ingratitude of man hurts much more than the chilly winter wind.

NOTE Amienss songs could be helpful in trying to figure out how the duke and the lords really feel about life in the forest. Does he sing about the happy life in the country because thats how he feels? Or is he trying to convince himself and the others that they are happy?

During the song, Orlando and the duke talk. When the music ends, the duke says that he is glad to learn that Orlando is Sir Rowlands son. The duke identifies himself and says that Orlando and Adam are welcome. He invites Orlando to his cave, where he will hear about the rest of the young mans fortunes. Note that the theme of Fortune and Nature comes in here again. The Duke now knows that Nature made Orlando the son of a wise and noble man. What he wants to find out is how Orlando has been treated by Fortune.

THE STORY, continued


Back at the palace, Duke Frederick threatens Orlandos brother Oliver. The duke finds it hard to believe that Oliver has not seen his brother since Orlando sneaked off. He says that if he werent so merciful, he would simply take his revenge on Oliver in Orlandos place. He orders Oliver to find his brother and bring him back, alive or dead, within twelve months. If Oliver fails, the duke will seize all his lands and possessions. Oliver protests that he has never loved his brother. The duke comments, More villain thou and sends him off.

There is ironic humor in the fact that the duke calls himself merciful and condemns Oliver for hating his brother. The duke is a tyrant who has no love for his own brother.

The main purpose of this scene is to send Oliver to the Forest of Arden. All the rest of the action of the play will take place there. What happens to Oliver in the forest will help make the ending possible.


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Orlando has settled into his forest life and has begun composing verses to his beloved Rosalind (though he doesnt realize that she is in the forest, also). When you first see him, he is posting his love poems on the trees. As he does so, he talks to himself in extravagant verse, sounding remarkably like Silvius, the other lovesick swain in the play. Promising to carve his beloveds name on every tree, Orlando runs off.

Orlando acts out the conventions of romantic love. Separated (he thinks) from his beloved, he spends his time pining away for her and making up rhymes praising her virtues. The intensity of his feelings are common to anybody who has recently fallen in love.

Touchstone and Corin enter as Orlando leaves. Corin wants to know how the clown likes the shepherds life. Touchstone answers with a string of contradictions. He likes the fact its solitary, but hates the fact its private. Its wonderful because its in the country, but terrible because its not in the court. And so on.

As he did with Jaques, Touchstone passes off nonsense as wisdom. Part of his skill lies in knowing how to fool different people. With Jaques, he appealed to the mans cynicism. With Corin, he relies on the fact that the shepherd has had no formal education and, for example, doesnt know that private and solitary mean the same thing. What is the difference, however, between fooling a Jaques and fooling a Corin?

Touchstone asks Corin if he has any philosophical thoughts to contribute. Corins philosophy boils down to the knowledge that whats so is so. If you get sick, you feel bad. Rain is wet, fire burns. And so on. Touchstone calls him a natural philosopher, a comment with a double meaning. Since natural could mean idiot, he could be calling Corin a fool. On the other hand, natural can mean instinctive. Corins simple philosophy is naturally wise.

Next, Touchstone has some fun exploiting his verbal advantage over Corin. He tells the shepherd that, if he has never been in court, he must be damned, because he never would have learned good manners. The word good, of course, can mean either polite or morally correct. Corin argues that manners that are good in court would be wrong in the country. Every argument of Corins is refuted by Touchstone, who continues to insist that Corin must be wicked if he doesnt know good manners.

Finally, Corin asserts that he is a true laborer who earns his living honestly, owes nothing, and envies nobody, and whose greatest joy is taking care of his animals. The simple virtues he claims are genuine. You are reminded that, unlike Silvius, Corin is a true shepherd, a simple man of the earth.


Reading aloud one of the poems that Orlando has stuck on the trees, Rosalind enters. Every other line in the poem ends with the name Rosalind. The verse is sincere, if not very skillful. For instance, he calls India Ind, so it will rhyme with Rosalind. Touchstone comments that he could make up rhymes like that for eight years together. As proof, he hastily offers a series of inane rhymes, such as

If a hart do lack a hind,

Let him seek out Rosalind.

If the cat will after kind

So be sure will Rosalind.

Touchstone wants to know why Rosalind wastes her time reading such bad verses. She explains that she found them on a tree. Celia enters, also reading a poem. Hers is longer and more complex but it serves the same purpose- to praise Rosalind. The lady so praised complains that the verse is long and tedious. Before saying anything more, Celia sends Touchstone and Corin away.

When Rosalind realizes that Celia knows who wrote the verses, she becomes excited and impatient. Celia hints its Orlando but teasingly refuses to say his name. When Celia finally confesses, Orlando, ten questions pour out of Rosalinds mouth in quick succession How did he look? What did he say? etc.

Celia starts to tell the story of how she saw Orlando, but before she can say much, the cousins are interrupted by the entrance of Orlando and Jaques. The ladies stand back to listen.

The two men obviously cannot stand each other. Each politely expresses his desire to see as little of the other as possible

Jaques God b wi you; lets meet as little as we can.

Orlando I do desire we may be better strangers.

To get rid of Jaques, Orlando gulls him with an old joke. He tells Jaques that he will see a fool if he looks into the brook. Jaques does so and says that he sees only himself. Thats what I meant, says Orlando. Not amused, Jaques leaves.


Taking advantage of her disguise, Rosalind decides to talk to Orlando as if she were a man. She starts by asking if he knows the time but quickly turns their discussion to the subject of love. When Orlando says he has no clock, she replies that a true lovers sighs (one per minute) and groans (one per hour) would do just as well. Of course, she is satirizing the idealized notion of romantic love.

Orlando doesnt know to whom hes talking. He is impressed when the youth explains how the speed with which time passes changes according to ones situation. Are you a native of the forest, Orlando asks? Rosalind tells him that she is, and that she lives with her shepherdess sister (Celia). Her refined accent is the product of the education she received from her uncle, an old religious man who had lived in the city.

NOTE Much of the humor in this scene depends on the principle of dramatic irony. That means the readers or audience members know more than some of the characters. Here, you know that Orlando is talking to his beloved, but he doesnt. You can therefore appreciate the way she fools him. You can enjoy her quick thinking, as demonstrated when Orlando asks about her accent and she makes up the excuse about her uncle.

Rosalind goes on to say that her uncle gave her valuable instruction in love, telling her about the faults and weaknesses of women. Orlando would like to know what they are, but she refuses to tell him I will not cast away my physic [medicine] but on those that are sick. In other words, she implies her uncle taught her a cure for love. If she could meet whoever has been papering the trees with poems dedicated to Rosalind, however, she would love to set him straight.

I am he that is so love-shaked, asserts Orlando. Impossible, replies Rosalind; he has none of the telltale signs of a lover A lean cheek... an unquestionable spirit [reluctance to talk]... a beard neglected and a general disregard for the way he looks. She is parodying the common literary conception of what a lover should be.

Once, Rosalind says, she cured a young man of his passion by acting the part of his mistress. Every day when he came to woo her, she would act like a woman by being overemotional, fickle, proud, and, in general, as difficult as possible- as women are for the most part. Eventually, she drove the suitor to madness,... to forswear the... world and to live in a nook merely monastic. Thus was the young man cured.

Orlando has no desire to be cured, but Rosalind insists she would like to try. Orlando accepts the challenge. He agrees to call on the good youth (Rosalind) daily and woo him as if he were Rosalind.

NOTE Rosalinds offer to cure Orlando performs a vital function in the plot. It lays the foundation for some of the amusing scenes that will follow. But it also raises an interesting philosophical question. Does satire cure? A satirist offers the audience an exaggerated reflection of its own follies. Some satirists claim that in doing so they help the audiences see their own foolishness and become better people. Do you think it works that way? Can you give an example of how satire caused people to change their minds about a subject? When have you yourself used satire successfully?


Idealized poetic notions of love and marriage come under further attack when Touchstone decides to marry a country wench. Audrey, the woman hes wooing as this scene begins, differs as much from Phebe as Corin differs from Silvius. Audrey can barely understand plain English, let alone poetry.

Touchstone treats Audrey much as he did Corin. He confuses her by using language he knows she will not understand. After comparing himself to the poet Ovid, Touchstone complains that Audrey is not poetical. Never having heard the word, she assumes that poetical is a thing. Is it an honest and true thing? she asks. He answers that poetry isnt true, because its feigning. Thats a pun, though of course Audrey misses the point. Feigning could mean either lying or imaginative (poetry is a product of the imagination). When Touchstone goes on to say that lovers are prone to use poetry, he implies that lovers tell lies.

In fact, the reason Touchstone wishes Audrey were poetical is that then she might be lying when she says that shes honest (chaste). He wants to marry her only so that he can satisfy his sexual desires. If she werent chaste, he could do that without getting married. But he will marry her, if he has to. Touchstone quips that being in the forest among so many horned animals would discourage most men from marrying. The Elizabethans said that a woman who cheated on her husband gave him horns (made him a cuckold). Touchstone cynically mutters that, if you take a wife, you cant avoid getting horns.

NOTE Can you imagine two men with more opposite views of love than Silvius and Touchstone? They represent two extreme views of love and marriage. To Silvius, love is pure and spiritual. Touchstone never talks of love, only marriage, which to him is like the mating of animals. Do you think that Shakespeare is saying that one view is more valid than the other? Or is there some middle course? In the upcoming scenes between Orlando and Rosalind, try to determine whether they are more similar to one couple or the other.

Sir Oliver Martext, the priest Touchstone has been waiting for, arrives. When Sir Oliver objects to the fact that nobody is present to give away the bride, Jaques steps in and offers to do it. He has been hiding behind a tree watching the goings-on. And as you might expect, he has been enjoying Touchstones philosophizing.

Jaques urges the clown to be married by a better priest than Sir Oliver, who will join them as two boards are joined. Touchstone would really prefer not to be well married, because that would make it easier for him to leave his wife. But he agrees to follow Jaquess advice. Singing his good-bye to the priest by parodying a popular ballad called Sweet Oliver, Touchstone exits. Sir Oliver simply shakes his head and swears never to let any crazy person discourage him from his calling.


In another part of the forest, Rosalind sits weeping because Orlando is late for his appointment. Celia uses her sharp wits to try to cheer up her friend, but without success.

Because she is not in love herself, Celia still has a cool and rather skeptical view of love. Orlando isnt a bad person, she says, but he should not be trusted in matters of love. She points out that lovers are notoriously untrustworthy.

When Celia mentions the old duke, Rosalind says that she met him in the forest the day before. Her disguise must be effective, because her own father failed to recognize her. Though the recollection amuses her, Rosalind cant keep her mind off Orlando.

NOTE One of the things that makes Rosalind such a fascinating character is her ability to balance the dictates of her heart and of her head. Remember how, in her last scene with Orlando, Rosalind refused to let him know who she was? She spoke disdainfully of love and promised to cure him of its foolishness. Yet in this scene you see again how smitten she is. Rosalinds passion is deep and powerful. Her self-control and common sense save her from the kind of foolish behavior to which lovers are prone.

Corin hurries on stage to invite his master and mistress to watch an entertaining show a pageant truly played / Between the pale complexion of true love / And the red glow of scorn and proud disdain. In other words, Silvius and Phebe are nearby. Rosalind wants to see this play very much. In fact, she says that shell join in the show herself.

NOTE The theatrical imagery Corin and Rosalind use in referring to Silvius and Phebe points up the essentially literary nature of these last-named characters. They represent types that were popular in pastoral fiction of the period. At the same time, the theatrical imagery relates to the theme of role playing that runs throughout the play. As Jaques says in his Seven Ages of Man speech, each person has roles to play. Jaques certainly plays a role- that of the malcontent. In Rosalinds scenes with Orlando, she plays the role of a cynical boy who hates love, while in her scenes with Celia she plays her true role of a lovesick woman. Look for examples of role playing as you read each scene.



Silvius and Phebe behave exactly as Corin promised they would- he fawns, she scorns. Silvius has gotten to the point where he no longer begs her to love him. He only asks her not to hate him. He accuses her of having less compassion than an executioner, who at least apologizes to his victims before killing them.

As Rosalind, Celia, and Corin sneak in to listen, Phebe denies that she has murdered or even injured Silvius. Her eyes may indeed express her hatred, but they cannot do him any harm. She challenges him to show any scars she has left on him. Silvius counters that loves keen arrows make invisible wounds. He warns Phebe that when she falls in love she will realize that what he says is true. Fine, she replies, then leave me alone until then.

These two are playing out their roles perfectly. Romantic love thrives on obstacles. Considering Phebes attitude toward Silvius, there seems little danger that the obstacle will be removed. The notion of the mans unworthiness is another convention of romantic love. Lovers were supposed to perform heroic tasks to prove their worthiness.

NOTE All the lovers in the play seem to misunderstand the power of love until they are truly in love. Thus Rosalinds flippant attitude in Act One changes after she meets Orlando. Celia judges lovers behavior quite coolly, because she has not yet been smitten. Phebe doesnt understand Silviuss suffering because she has never felt as he does. Shakespeare has Silvius make that statement about loves keen arrows in order to heighten the irony of what is about to happen.

LINES 8-85

Rosalind has heard enough. Still disguised as a man, she approaches the couple. She demands to know who Phebe thinks she is to talk so cruelly to Silvius. She says that Phebe is singularly unattractive, but thats no excuse for such meanness.

Noticing a strange look on Phebes face, Rosalind recognizes it as the expression of a woman in love! Rosalinds scorn, it seems, has made Phebe fall for her. Trying to discourage Phebe, Rosalind makes the situation worse by scorning her further. She claims that she cannot understand why Silvius wastes his time pursuing a woman who is so ugly and worthless. Phebe should get down on her knees and thank God that a man wants her. Giving Phebe a little friendly advice, Rosalind counsels her to take Silviuss offer- she wont get any others. Then Rosalind starts off.

Phebe begs her to stay. She says that she prefers Rosalinds chiding (scolding) to Silviuss wooing. Rosalind tries one more time to make it clear that she does not love or even like Phebe. Taking Celia and Corin with her, she leaves.

LINES 86-148

Now Phebe understands love. Quoting Christopher Marlowe (a contemporary of Shakespeares), she says, Who ever loved that loved not at first sight? Love in As You Like It certainly does seem to happen at first sight. Sometimes that quickness causes problems, as here. In other cases, as with Orlando and Rosalind, the lovers are well-suited to each other.

Phebe admits that she feels pity for Silvius. She still cannot give herself to him, but shell endure his company and even give him employment. What she wants him to do is take a letter to that peevish boy (Rosalind). Phebe claims to be angry with the youth for speaking so rudely to her. She speaks of him at great length in a peculiar fashion, constantly alternating between criticism and praise. Perhaps this conflict is for Silviuss sake, because she doesnt want him to realize shes in love and refuse to be her messenger. Its also possible that Phebe is struggling with her own feelings. She is both angry at and in love with this rude boy and cannot reconcile the two feelings.

Phebe says that she will write a very taunting letter for Silvius to deliver. He promises to do so.

How much truth do you think there is in the suggestion that rejection can stimulate love? Most people have experienced the feeling of being infatuated with someone who doesnt seem to care for them. From the evidence of this play, that kind of thing has been going on for a long time.



While still waiting for Orlando, Rosalind has been accosted by Jaques. Shes heard all about him and therefore wants to spend no time with such a melancholy fellow. Jaques argues that his type of melancholy is unique, because it is the product of observations made on his travels. When she hears that Jaques has traveled abroad, Rosalind sums him up as one who affects melancholy only to impress others with his worldliness. She says that she would rather have a fool to make her happy than a critic to make her sad.


You may wonder why such a point is made of the fact that Jaques has traveled. It was popular in Shakespeares time to satirize the traveler who returned home and complained that his native land suffered in comparison to foreign countries. Even today, you may know somebody whos constantly saying, In France they do it this way or In Greece they really know how to live. You might also find this person rather annoying and suspect that his frequent mentions of his travels are calculated to impress. Rosalind accuses Jaques of being just such a person.


Orlando has finally arrived, so Rosalind swiftly gets rid of Jaques. She begins giving Orlando his love cure by pretending to be his Rosalind. What follows makes use of the technique of dramatic irony. You can enjoy Orlandos ignorance of the fact that he really is in the presence of his beloved Rosalind, while he believes hes with a boy pretending to be her. Remember, she has promised to give him a taste of what a woman is really like.

First, she scolds him for being late. He protests that hes come within an hour of the appointed time. That, she says, proves hes not in love. No lover would be late by even a thousandth of a minute. Shed as soon be wooed by a snail, who at least has a house, which is more than Orlando has to offer. Also, a snail brings his destiny with him- horns. In other words, she says that all husbands are destined to be betrayed by their wives.

NOTE It may seem strange that a cultured and virtuous young woman like Rosalind would joke about women being unfaithful to their husbands. One reason is simply that jokes about cuckolding were extremely popular in Shakespeares time. From a more psychological point of view, it could be because shes wondering whether Orlando, to whom shes given her heart, will be faithful to her.

Orlando objects to that statement Rosalind would never betray him, because shes virtuous. His compliment delights her so much that she almost gives away her secret by saying, And I am your Rosalind. Celia, who has been quietly listening all this time, steps in and saves the day by interpreting It pleases him to call you so; but he hath a Rosalind of a better leer [face] than you. Recovering her self-control, Rosalind urges Orlando to play their game. She encourages him to woo her, because she says she is in a good humor and is likely to consent.

NOTE This mention of being in a humor suggests a point of view about love and romance. They are entirely appropriate and enjoyable in their season- and when kept in the proper perspective. It is foolish, however, to let them take over your life, as Silvius does.

The first thing Orlando would do if he were wooing Rosalind, he says, is kiss her. A bad idea, counsels Rosalind. Instead, he should start by talking. Then, when he runs out of things to say, he can resort to kissing. If she refuses the kiss, that will give him something more to talk about.

Next, suddenly changing moods, Rosalind says that she will not have Orlando. He claims that, if the real Rosalind denied him like that, he would die. Thats just what Silvius said in the last scene. Rosalind, who is demonstrating how difficult women are, responds just as Phebe did. Nobody has ever died of love, she asserts. She gives examples of two legendary men who supposedly died of love and shows how they were actually killed by other means. Orlando isnt convinced. He insists that a frown from the real Rosalind would kill him. Rosalind moves on to the next question what would he do if Rosalind would grant what he asks? He would ask her to love him, he answers. Rosalind flippantly tells him she will have him and twenty like him. He cant understand why she would want others. Can you have too much of a good thing? she asks. Then she enlists Celia to play the role of priest in a mock wedding ceremony. After the vows, she wants to know how long Orlando would keep the real Rosalind once he had her.

Orlando swears that he would keep her For ever and a day. Rosalind claims that he would be more truthful if he just said a day. As his wife, she would drive him crazy, crying when he wants to be happy and laughing when he wants to sleep. Orlando protests that the real Rosalind is too wise to do that, but Rosalind insists that the wiser a woman is, the waywarder she is. Her wit cannot be stopped, she warns. In other words, a woman has an answer for everything. If he catches his wife in bed with his neighbor, she will swear that she went there looking for her husband!

Orlando says that he has to attend the duke at dinner for two hours. Rosalind extracts a promise from him to return promptly when those two hours are up. But she is skeptical of him and says that Time will be his judge. He leaves.

Through the devices of disguise and role playing, Orlando and Rosalind have gone quickly through several stages of courtship. At the same time, Rosalind has been able to stand back and comment on the process. Therefore, they have been spared the kind of foolishness that entraps Silvius and Phebe.

LINES 1-10

Celia takes a dim view of Rosalinds characterization of women. She half-heartedly threatens to remove Rosalinds pants and reveal her as a traitor to her sex. Rosalind sighs that she is more deeply in love than her friend can possibly realize. She intends to go lie in a shadow and sigh until Orlando returns. Celia, on the other hand, will spend the time sleeping.


In the forest, Jaques meets some of the lords, who have just killed a deer. He asks who killed the deer and sarcastically suggests that the man should be presented to the duke with all the honor given a Roman conqueror. He also wants the hunter to wear the deers horns on his head for a branch of victory. It is Jaquess intention, of course, to make the man look foolish.

At Jaquess request, the lords sing a song as they carry off the deer. Its theme is that there is no shame in wearing horns; in fact, everyones male ancestors wore them. Once again you are hearing the cynical view (Shakespeares?) that all women give their husbands horns by cheating on them.


LINES 1-76

Once again, Orlando is late for his appointment. Rosalind and Celia exchange sarcastic comments, with Celia suggesting that hes so much in love he must have fallen asleep. Another lover arrives in Orlandos place- Silvius- bringing Phebes letter to Rosalind. He explains that, though he hasnt read the letter, he suspects that its contents are unpleasant. Phebe looked angry when she wrote it.

Rosalind reads the letter, which is really a love letter. She behaves as if the letter were exactly what Silvius thinks it is. Feigning outrage, she asks why Phebe should be so mean to her. She accuses Silvius of writing the letter, claiming that its too harsh for a woman to have written. Silvius denies writing or even reading the letter.

To prove her point about the letters cruelty, Rosalind reads it aloud. Actually, its full of praise. Phebe begins by calling Ganymede (Rosalind) a god to shepherd turned and goes on to swear love for him. Though Rosalind keeps insisting that the letter is insulting, Silvius understands the truth. By the time she finishes reading, Silvius is crushed. Celia pities him, but Rosalind says that his problems are of his own making. She will not pity a man who insists on loving such a cruel, deceitful woman. Rosalind sends Silvius back to Phebe with the following instruction if Phebe loves Ganymede, then she should do what Ganymede tells her to do- love Silvius.

NOTE Why does Rosalind lie about the contents of the letter? Some readers think that she begins by trying to spare Silviuss feelings. Perhaps she hopes that, in his lovesick haze, he wont notice what the letter actually is saying. Its also possible that she wants Silvius to know the truth but realizes he will have to recognize it for himself. After all, when she tried to tell him the truth about Phebe in Act III, Scene V, her comments had no effect on him. Which reason makes more sense to you? Why?

LINES 77-10

As soon as Silvius leaves, a stranger approaches. It is Orlandos brother Oliver, who has been absent from the play since Act III, scene i. Although the women do not know him, he recognizes them by description and says that he brings greetings from Orlando. To Rosalind he gives a bloody handkerchief, also from his brother. To explain the meaning of the handkerchief, he tells them a story.

While on his way to meet Rosalind, Orlando saw a wretched, ragged man sleeping under a tree. A snake had coiled itself around the mans neck and was about to bite him. Seeing Orlando, the snake uncoiled itself and slid off into the bushes. What Orlando saw in the bushes was even worse- a lioness waiting for the sleeping man to stir so she could pounce. Orlando was surprised when he recognized the man as his brother Oliver. Celia comments that she has heard Orlando speak of his brother as the most unnatural / That lived among men. Oliver agrees. Orlando, however, could not leave his brother to his fate. Instead, he fought and killed the lioness. At just that moment, says Oliver, I awaked.

The ladies are astonished. Are you the brother who plotted to kill Orlando? they ask. Oliver admits he was but says he has changed. Now hes ashamed of his past deeds. Oliver explains that, after he and Orlando were reconciled, they proceeded to the dukes camp, where Orlando revealed that he had been wounded by the lioness. He fainted, and Oliver bandaged the wound. Orlando is now resting but has asked Oliver to tell Ganymede and Aliena what happened.

Realizing that the handkerchief is reddened with Orlandos blood, Rosalind faints. Her behavior is unmanly, but Oliver excuses it by saying that many will swoon when they do look on blood. When Rosalind comes to, she claims to have only pretended to faint. Celia urges Rosalind, who now looks very pale, to go home. She invites Oliver to join them. He agrees, saying that he has to get a message from Rosalind for his brother.

NOTE Olivers conversion is nothing short of a miracle. Shakespeare seems completely unconcerned with plausibility. Perhaps Orlandos courage in saving his brothers life brought about the change, or perhaps it was the cruel treatment Oliver received from Duke Frederick. You have to accept without question that the conversion is genuine, because part of the happy ending will depend on it. Comedies have to end happily, so villains must be either converted or disposed of. Olivers conversion foreshadows that of another villain, which will occur in Act V.


Audrey is tired of waiting for Touchstone to marry her. She thinks that Sir Oliver Martext would have performed the ceremony well enough, despite Jaquess objections.

Changing the subject, Touchstone mentions that there is a young man in the forest who claims Audrey. As if on cue, the young man appears. Touchstone immediately sizes him up as a slow-witted rustic. That fact delights him, because hell enjoy making fun of William.

NOTE Upon seeing William, Touchstone says It is meat and drink to me to see a clown. That statement underscores the fact that the scene will be a confrontation between two types of clowns, or fools. The wise fool (Touchstone) uses his foolery to amuse and instruct. The natural fool (William) amuses because he is genuinely dim-witted.

William approaches Touchstone and Audrey quite respectfully, taking off his hat and bidding each a good evening. Touchstone seems to be trying to put William at ease by telling him to put his hat back on. Then, he begins to work his foolery by asking the youth a series of questions. He starts simply enough How old are you? Whats your name? Where were you born? After each of Williams replies, Touchstone compliments him on his answers.

Then he asks if William loves Audrey. When William says he does, Touchstone gives him a lesson in nonsense-rhetoric that pretends to prove that Touchstone is the one who must marry Audrey. Having achieved his goal of thoroughly confusing William, Touchstone finishes by making an elaborate show of explaining exactly what he means William should abandon (which is in the vulgar, leave) the society (which in the boorish is, company) of this female (which in the common is, woman). Otherwise, Touchstone will kill him, a fact he explains in about a dozen ways.

Despite Touchstones clarity, William must still be a bit confused. He looks to Audrey, who advises him to leave. With a polite God rest you merry, Sir to Touchstone, William runs off. At that moment, Corin approaches and tells Touchstone that Rosalind and Celia want to see him.

NOTE Like Corin (and unlike Silvius and Phebe), William is a real shepherd. He is not poetical. Touchstones ridiculous parody of a learned gentleman fools William completely. Note how politely William treats his rival. He addresses Touchstone respectfully, using the pronoun you, while Touchstone addresses William as thou, a pronoun used for inferiors.


LINES 1-40

Oliver has just told Orlando some surprising news- he and Celia (who is known to him as Aliena) have fallen in love. Oliver admits that the situation is odd, considering how recently they met. But he says they want to be married. Oliver intends to give all he owns to Orlando and to live as a shepherd in the forest. He wants Orlandos consent.

Agreeing, Orlando says that the marriage will take place the next day. Just then, Rosalind enters. Oliver leaves to prepare Aliena for the wedding.

Rosalind tells Orlando shes sorry he was wounded. She asks whether Oliver told him about her counterfeit fainting. Ay, and greater wonders than that, he replies, referring to the astonishing suddenness of Oliver and Alienas betrothal.

NOTE Shakespeare took the story of As You Like It from Thomas Lodges pastoral novel Rosalynde. Lodge gave the romantic pairing of Oliver and Aliena greater justification. In the novel, the older brother rescues Aliena from a band of thieves, thus winning her affections. Shakespeares change accomplishes two things (1) It simplifies the story for the stage. Introducing a band of thieves this late in the play would be awkward; () This additional case of love at first sight satirizes the conventions of romantic love found in pastoral fiction.

LINES 41-7

Olivers good fortune pleases Orlando, but it also increases his despair at being separated from Rosalind. The dramatic irony of this scene lies in the fact that Orlando doesnt realize hes talking to the very person he wants so terribly. As Ganymede, Rosalind asks why she cannot continue to pretend to be his Rosalind. Because I can no longer live by thinking, declares Orlando. Seeing that the time has come to end her charade, Rosalind tells Orlando one more story. She claims to have been raised by a magician, very skilled yet not damnable (that is, not in league with the devil). Using the skills he taught her, she can make Rosalind appear the next day. Are you serious? asks Orlando. She is; if he wants to, he can marry his Rosalind tomorrow.

NOTE Why has Rosalind chosen to end her game? Lets look at several possible reasons. The depth of Orlandos sadness may have moved her to reveal herself. Or, she may see that hes become tired of the game and will no longer play. A third possibility is that she believes that she has cured him of excessive romanticism. His statement that he can no longer live by thinking could mean he is ready to love a person (Rosalind), with all her human imperfections, rather than a false romantic ideal.

LINES 74-15

They are interrupted by Phebe and Silvius. Phebe complains that it was unkind of Ganymede to show Silvius the love letter. So what? says Rosalind. I dont love you. This shepherd does. You should love him.

Phebe thinks that Ganymede simply doesnt understand love. Knowing the one thing Silvius (the plays authority on romantic love) does well, she asks him to tell Ganymede what love is like. What follows humorously dramatizes the complicated situation at this point in the play

Silvius It is to be all made of sighs and

tears; And so am I for Phebe.

Phebe And I for Ganymede.

Orlando And I for Rosalind.

Rosalind And I for no woman.

Silvius goes on to list the traits of the romantic lover. Each time he pauses, the others join in as above. Finally, Phebe asks Rosalind, If this be so, why blame you me to love you? Silvius asks Phebe the same question. Then Orlando asks the same question. Who are you talking to? queries Rosalind. He sadly answers, To her that is not here, nor doth not hear.

Rosalind has heard enough. Knowing that she has the power to resolve all the conflicts, she tells the other three to meet her the next day. To entice them to come, she makes these promises she will marry Phebe if she ever marries any woman; Orlando will be satisfied; Silvius will get what pleases him. Whats more, they will all be married tomorrow. They all swear to meet her, and she leaves.


The love Silvius describes is pure romantic love. The sighs, tears, obedience, duty, and so on that he mentions are the evidence of dedication to an idealized, unobtainable beloved. Such feelings of passion and longing are human and understandable. Even the levelheaded Rosalind joins in the refrain. What Shakespeare seems to be saying, however, is that they are only part of love. As You Like It satirizes the way pastoral romances portray love as all sighs, all obedience, all purity. Love also includes sex, friendship, and marriage, Shakespeare reminds us.


The buildup toward the wedding scene continues in this interlude with Touchstone and Audrey. In their last scene, Audrey was impatient to get married. Now, when Touchstone tells her that tomorrow is the joyful day, she is glad but hopes that her desire to become a woman of the world is not improper.

Two of the dukes pages enter. They readily agree to Touchstones request for a song. The ditty they choose is about two lovers in the spring. The lyric calls springtime the only pretty ring-time (i.e., the best time for marriage) and says that lovers love the spring. But it points out that life, like a season or a flower, lasts only a limited time.

NOTE While satirizing the artificial love portrayed in pastoral romances, As You Like It celebrates the joys of real love. The play makes the point that, as this song says, love has its season. During that season, it should be enjoyed.

After hearing the song, Touchstone wittily insults the singers. He claims that, although the song was only a trifle, it was certainly sung badly. The pages defend their rendition, saying that they kept time very well. Thats right, says Touchstone, but time spent listening to such a silly song is time wasted. Taking Audrey, he leaves.



The wedding day has arrived. Orlando and Duke Senior talk while waiting for Ganymede. The duke wants to know if Orlando really believes the boy can do what he claims. Orlando replies that sometimes he believes it, and sometimes hes afraid to believe, because hes afraid of being disappointed.

NOTE Nobody questions the power of magic, though doubt is raised about Ganymedes ability to deliver the miracle hes promised. Elizabethans were extremely interested in the supernatural. King James I believed in the power of witches and even wrote a book on the subject. Magic appears throughout Shakespeares plays, from the witches of Macbeth to the ghost of Hamlets father. The forest in A Midsummer Nights Dream is full of mischievous fairies.

Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede), arrives with Silvius and Phebe. Asking the others to bear with her, Rosalind reviews all the promises that have been made

-To Duke Senior (her father) If I make Rosalind appear,

you will let her marry Orlando?

He would do so even if he had kingdoms to give

with her as a dowry.

-To Orlando You will marry Rosalind, if she appears?

He would, even if he were king of all the world.

-To Phebe You will marry me [Ganymede]?

She will, even if she were to die the next hour.

-But, if you refuse me, youll marry Silvius?

Phebe admits thats what they agreed upon.

-To Silvius Youre willing to marry Phebe?

Needless to say, he is, even if he were to die for it.

Rosalind leaves, taking Celia with her.

NOTE As You Like It has a complicated plot. Shakespeare takes great pains to make the situation clear at this point. In order to enjoy whats going to happen, you have to understand each of the complications. As you can see, the shedding of Rosalinds disguise will resolve all the romantic conflicts.

Orlando and the duke discuss the fact that Ganymede reminds both of them of Rosalind. It never occurs to either of them that the boy could actually be Rosalind. This passage could be a satirical comment on the conventions of pastoral romances. Disguises were commonplace in such stories, and they always worked perfectly. Fathers, for example, never recognized their own daughters.

LINES -110

Touchstone and Audrey arrive to join in the nuptials. Jaques laughingly swears that another flood like the one in Noahs time must be coming, because all the animals are pairing off. These two, he says, are called fools.

Jaques recommends Touchstone to the duke as the motley-minded gentleman that he so enjoyed meeting in the forest (Act II, scene vii). He reminds the duke that Touchstone swears to have been a courtier. And I can prove it, announces Touchstone. He claims to have danced courtly dances been crafty with his friend and clever with his enemy. He has also put three tailors out of business by not paying his bills. Finally, he swears that he has had four quarrels, one of which almost led to a duel. How did you avoid fighting? asks Jaques. Faith, we met, explains Touchstone, and found the quarrel was upon the seventh cause. Jaques wants to know what the fool means.

In offering proofs that he was a courtier, Touchstone satirizes the way of life in the city. He picks up several themes mentioned in the city scenes earlier. Like Le Beau, his courtier is concerned with fashion, flattery, and fancy clothes. He characterizes the typical courtier as a man who would be equally willing to lie to his friends or his enemies in order to get ahead. The preoccupation with quarreling was also typical of the courtier.

Explaining the quarrel on the seventh cause, Touchstone says it was a lie seven times removed. He illustrates the seven steps of a lie. If Touchstone sends word to a certain courtier that he dislikes the cut of the mans beard, the courtier may (1) say he believes that its well cut- the Retort Courteous. If Touchstone repeats his assertion, the courtier may () say he cut it the way he likes it- the Quip Modest; () state that Touchstone has no taste- the Reply Churlish (rude); (4) claim that Touchstone isnt telling the truth- the Reproof Valiant; (5) say that Touchstone is lying (a subtle distinction from step 4)- the Countercheck Quarrelsome. The final steps are (6) the Lie Circumstantial (an indirect accusation of lying) and (7) the Lie Direct (an open, direct accusation). Touchstone and the courtier had to stop between the last two, however. Had they gone on to step seven, they would have had to fight. As it was, they avoided crossing swords.

NOTE If you think these rules sound silly, then youve gotten Shakespeares point. Books were actually written giving instructions in quarreling. These rules were as artificial as the conventions of love portrayed in pastoral romances. Therefore, they are a target for satire. Sometimes the rules served a practical function, however- they kept quarrels from getting out of hand. The textbooks of quarreling provided ways of avoiding a duel.

Touchstone illustrates another method of avoiding a duel- the if. When two quarreling parties can meet and say, If you said so, then I said so, they can make up and be friends. Jaques and the duke praise the fools ability. The duke comments that Touchstone uses the wise fools technique he presents the truth under the guise of foolishness.

NOTE You may wonder why Shakespeare gives the clown such a lot to say just when the plot had built to a climax. Ever a practical man of the theater, Shakespeare wrote this entertaining passage to fill the time needed for Rosalind and Celia to change their costumes.

LINES 111-55

Soft music heralds the return of Rosalind and Celia, who have shed their disguises. Hymen, the god of marriage, accompanies them. Though Hymen is the first supernatural character to appear in the play, the many references to magic have prepared the way for his arrival. He presents Rosalind to her father. The duke, Orlando, and Phebe are astonished. Hymen announces that he must clear up all confusion. He names the four couples who will now be married Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Phebe and Silvius (he reminds Phebe of her promise), Touchstone and Audrey.

The duke joyfully welcomes his daughter and his niece. Phebe promises to keep her word and marry Silvius. Whats more, she says that shes now in love with him. Why do you think Shakespeare gave her this abrupt change of heart? Her reversal could serve a satiric purpose. Earlier, Phebe scorned Silvius only because the romantic conventions demanded that she do so. Now, she suddenly loves him so that the ending can be happy. Her behavior is constantly dictated by literary conventions.

LINES 156-08

Before they can proceed with the wedding, a new character appears. He identifies himself as Sir Rowlands second son- Orlando and Olivers brother, Jaques. He brings word about Duke Frederick. It seems that the Duke headed into this forest with a large army intending to murder his brother, Duke Senior. But on the edge of the forest, he met an old religious man. After some conversation, Frederick renounced both his evil ways and the world. Returning the dukedom to his brother, he now intends to live in the forest as a hermit.

This transformation is as sudden as Olivers and even less believable. It appears that, as the play nears its end, the magic power of the forest strengthens. The evil duke has only to arrive at its edge to be converted.

NOTE Lodges Rosalynde is actually more credible in this respect. In the novel, the usurper is killed. Shakespeare probably didnt want to sour the end of his play with a killing. Tragedy ends in death. Comedy ends in forgiveness and rebirth. The marriages and conversions all support this promise.

The duke rejoices at hearing that his dukedom and all the lands taken from the exiled lords have been restored. He intends to return immediately to the city. First, however, the wedding must take place. He calls for music and dancing.

NOTE Does the dukes decision to return to the city prove that all his talk about the joys of country life was false? It would seem that he was just making the best of a bad situation. But As You Like It shows good and bad in both city and country life. In the final analysis, might the duke and his followers simply feel more comfortable in the city, where they were born and bred?

Before the dancing can begin, Jaques interrupts. He has no intention of returning to the city. Instead, he will join Duke Frederick, because Out of these convertites / There is much matter to be heard and learned. Jaques remains contrary to the last. All along he has criticized life in the forest. Now he chooses to remain there. Here again, Jaques seems to be motivated by his desire to be different from everybody else. Or is he genuinely interested in debating the newly converted duke? Such a person would be full of matter. Why do you think he remains?

The duke urges Jaques to stay. Not to watch merrymaking, replies Jaques. But he will wait in the dukes cave to talk with him. Once Jaques leaves, the music and dancing commence.

NOTE Some historians believe that the wedding dance was added when the play was presented at the wedding of a nobleman. Elizabethans loved music and dance. Elaborate entertainments called masques combined musical elements with ornate costumes and scenery. There are masquelike sections in a number of Shakespeares plays, including Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Tempest.


When the dance ends, Rosalind turns to the audience to deliver the epilogue. These speeches traditionally consisted of apologies for the shortcomings of the play and a request for applause. Rosalind says that a good play doesnt need an epilogue any more than a good wine needs a bush (an ivy bush hung outside an alehouse to let people know that wine was available). However, a play can benefit from a good epilogue, she continues. Therefore, she apologizes for having neither a good epilogue nor the charm to make the audience feel charitably disposed toward the play.

Since she cannot beg for applause, she will conjure it. This statement picks up on the theme of magic that has played an important part in Act V. The demands made in her conjuration are amusingly simple men and women, for the love they bear each other, should like as much of the play as pleases them. She concludes by saying that if she were a woman she would kiss as many of the men as pleased her. (In Shakespeares theater, the part was played by a boy.) So Rosalind curtsies and asks the audience to bid her farewell by applauding.

NOTE Rosalind could be accused of false modesty, but this charmingly humble epilogue ends the play on a sweet and sunny note. Its interesting to compare it with the epilogue of Twelfth Night, the play written just after this one. Also a romantic comedy, Twelfth Night has an unusual epilogue in the form of a song. Sung by Feste, the fool, its tone is decidedly melancholy.




_____ 1. Charles says that the old duke and his men live in the Forest of Arden like

A. outcasts

B. Robin Hood and his men

C. animals

_____ . Adam says that Oliver wants to kill Orlando because of his

A. plain speaking

B. cleverness

C. nobility

_____ . Touchstone is an example of a

A. natural fool

B. malcontent

C. court fool

_____ 4. Orlando first enters Duke Seniors camp in order to

A. get food

B. give Duke Senior a message

C. find Rosalind

_____ 5. Touchstone makes up poems about Rosalind for the purpose of

A. winning her approval for his marriage

B. making fun of the poems Orlando has written

C. making fun of life in the country

_____ 6. Touchstone says he wants to marry Audrey because

A. any man would love a woman as beautiful as she

B. a man needs money, and she has a large dowry

C. a man has desires, and he needs a wife to satisfy them

_____ 7. William is an example of

A. natural fool

B. wise fool

C. whining schoolboy

_____ 8. When Elizabethans said a man wore horns, they meant

A. he was lovesick

B. he had lost all his money

C. his wife had been unfaithful to him

_____ . When Silvius tells Ganymede what tis to love, he is talking about

A. romantic love

B. sexual love

C. platonic love

_____ 10. By the end of the play, both villains have

A. been killed

B. been punished

C. been converted

11. Compare life in the country with life in the city, as portrayed in As You Like It.

1. What varieties of love are depicted in the play? Give examples.

1. How is Orlandos nobility made clear in Act I?


_____ 1. Oliver says that most people consider Orlando

A. an envious emulator of every mans good parts

B. a noble, gentle young man

C. the rightful duke

_____ . Elizabethans would have regarded Duke Fredericks usurping of his brothers throne as

A. a violation of Gods will

B. proof of Fredericks superiority

C. foreshadowing

_____ . Le Beau is an example of

A. a court fool

B. a foppish courtier

C. an Elizabethan satirist

_____ 4. Jaquess speech over the wounded deer demonstrates his

A. concern for animals

B. great eloquence

C. tendency to moralize

_____ 5. When Touchstone talks about his love for milkmaid Jane Smile, he is

A. recalling his only true love

B. telling Rosalind that he sympathizes with her

C. making fun of Silvius

_____ 6. The common theme of all Amienss songs is the

A. sweetness of life in the forest

B. sadness of banishment

C. joy of love

_____ 7. While disguised as Ganymede, Rosalind says Orlando cant be in love because

A. hes too young to give his heart to a woman

B. he doesnt bear any of the conventional marks of a lover

C. Orlando is smart, and lovers are all fools

_____ 8. When Silvius begs Phebe not to scorn him, he implies that

A. rejection hurts his feelings

B. her disdain could kill him

C. he thinks shes being peevish

_____ . Touchstones speech about quarreling satirizes

A. rustics

B. rulers

C. courtiers

_____ 10. In the epilogue, Rosalind asks

I. The audience to like as much of the play as pleases them

II. for applause

III. the audience to join in the dancing

A. I and II only

B. II and III only

C. I and III only

11. How does Touchstone help you to understand the other characters?

1. Trace the themes of Fortune and Nature through the play.

1. Who are the two villains in the play, and what do they have in common?



1. B

. C

. C

4. . A

5. . B

6. . C

7. . A

8. C

. A

10. C

11. You can take either a literal or a thematic approach to this question. There are plenty of literal differences between the two settings. Many are discussed in the Setting section of this guide. Physically, the city is ordered into palaces or homes, orchards, and lawns. In the forest, trees grow wild, and locations are distinguished simply by being called another part of the forest. Many city dwellers seem concerned with fashion. In the country there is no standard of fashion. Likewise, there is no ruler to please.

To approach this question thematically, discuss whether you think the play seems to be saying that country life is preferable to city life. To argue that As You Like It accepts the pastoral ideal, cite what Duke Senior says about the forest and the court in Act II, Scene i. Show how the noble characters fare much better in the country than in the city. To argue the opposite view, point out how Shakespeare questions the pastoral viewpoint. Touchstone has a lot to say on the subject, as does Jaques. Show how Corin, William, and Audrey serve to contradict the idea that rustics are naturally wise and eloquent. Finally, point out that Duke Senior and his lords return to the city the first chance they get.

1. The Themes section of this guide will help you here. Romantic love in its purest form is represented by Silvius and Phebe. Explain how their scenes employ all the conventions of that type of love. Use Touchstones wooing of Audrey to show how the play deals with sexual love. Having established the two extremes, you can discuss how Rosalind and Orlando fit right in the middle by having elements of both. Rosalind and Celias friendship represents another kind of love. Discuss how it is different from the other types.

1. A playwright reveals character in three ways the characters actions, his speech (including both what he says about himself and how he speaks), and what others say about him. Use Orlandos first action in the play as an example. Orlando demands that his brother give him his due. If you examine how he makes that demand (his language), you will see that he is careful only to ask for what is rightfully his. Despite the way Oliver abuses him, Orlando extends the proper respect to his older brother. When Oliver describes how people think of Orlando, you get further evidence of Orlandos nobility. Other examples include the statements that Rosalind and Celia make about Orlando when they meet him.


1. B

. A

. B

4. C

5. C

6. A

7. B

8. B

. C

10. A

11. Touchstone is an expert mimic. By imitating a quality he recognizes in another character, he helps you to understand that character. There are many examples to choose from. Silvius seems almost proud of all the ridiculous things he has done in the name of love. To prove that the shepherd is behaving foolishly, Touchstone imitates him. When Touchstone meets Jaques in the forest, he takes Jaquess penchant for gloomy moralizing one step further. In his scenes with Corin, William, and Audrey, Touchstone passes off nonsense as wisdom. Give examples of how he does that and discuss what that may reveal about the simplemindedness of real country people.

1. Start by defining the difference between Fortune and Nature. The discussions of these terms under Themes and in Act I, Scene ii, of this guide will help you. List the characters who are noble by Nature but who have been made to suffer by Fortune. Orlando is a good example. Though his spirit is noble, his lot in life is a hard one. By contrast, Oliver is petty and jealous, but his worldly position is much better than Orlandos. Duke Senior and Duke Frederick provide another example. By the end of the play, Fortune has corrected the inequity. Discuss the plays happy ending in terms of how characters who are noble in Nature are finally rewarded by Fortune.

1. Duke Frederick and Oliver are the two villains in As You Like It. They both have betrayed their brothers. Duke Frederick has usurped his older brothers dukedom. Oliver has withheld his younger brothers inheritance and deprived him of the education he deserves. Neither villain can stand for anybody else to be loved. Oliver wants to kill Orlando because other people think well of him. The duke banishes Rosalind because the people love her. Both of them show disrespect for the natural order of things. Oliver refuses to obey his late fathers wishes. By deposing his older brother, Duke Frederick violates the natural order both in his family and in the dukedom. Finally, both characters undergo complete conversions by the end of the play.

[As You Like It Contents]



1. Contrast what love means to Silvius and Phebe with what it means to Touchstone.

. Explore the way in which Rosalind represents a balanced view of love.

. From the evidence of the play, decide how you think Shakespeare regarded romantic love. Defend your position.

4. Compare the way each of the following characters feels about romantic love Rosalind, Silvius, Touchstone.


1. Why is Rosalind regarded as the most complete character in the play?

. Are Silvius and Phebe real characters, or are they only literary stereotypes?

. What is Touchstones function in the play?

4. Compare Orlando with his brother Oliver, and Duke Senior with his brother Duke Frederick.


1. Explore the use of language in Touchstones scenes with Corin, Audrey, and William.

. Discuss Rosalind and Celias sophisticated use of the pun.

. How does Shakespeare use language to reveal character in Orlando?

4. Contrast Silvius and Phebes use of language with that of Corin, William, and Audreys.


1. How does As You Like It portray city life? Isolate and discuss as many aspects as possible.

. How does As You Like It portray country life? Discuss the different life-styles depicted.

. How does Shakespeare use pastoral conventions to comic effect?


1. Discuss the interaction of Fortune and Nature in As You Like It.

. How does the Elizabethan concept of a natural order affect events in the play?

. Isolate three types of artificial behavior in the play. Using the text, demonstrate the consequences of each.




...Externally the setting is that of a conventional pastoral play. The forest is full of shepherds, foresters, and other creatures who could live together only in an Elysium of escape from the real world. But the Forest of Arden is no mirage of wish-fulfilment. It is not like the world of Italian pastoral romance, not a country in which the longings of those bored with city life were realized. It is an actual English woodland through which real winds blow, a region near the haunts of Robin Hood and his merry men... And what creatures do they find there? They meet characters who belong to the most artificial of all worlds of fiction, the pastoral romance. Silvius, the sighing love-sick swain, is there, and Phebe, the obstinately chaste shepherdess. So are William and Audrey, neither of whom has ever been washed by the romantic imagination or any other known cleansing agent. They are the shepherd and his lass as they really are, ignorant dirty louts-simple folk who know nothing but what Nature has taught them. Here, says Shakespeare, are two authentic children of Nature. This is the heterogeneous company to which Rosalind and Orlando must belong if they prefer Arcadia to the artifices of civilized life. The play thus ridicules the belief that life close to Nature is best. The comedy is, as Joseph Wood Krutch says, a playfully satiric fantasy on the idea of the simple life.

Oscar Campbell, Shakespeares Satire, 155


...Rosalind loves Orlando without limit, and... she is the happiest of many happy persons in Arden. Her criticism of love and cuckooland is unremitting, yet she has not annihilated them. Rather she has preserved them by removing the flaws of their softness. That is the duty of criticism- a simple duty for a girl with sound imagination and a healthy heart. As Arden emerges from the fires of As You Like It a perfected symbol of the golden age, so Rosalind steps forth not burned but brightened, a perfected symbol of the romantic heroine. Romance has been tested in her until we know it cannot shatter; laughter has made it sure of itself. There is only one thing sillier than being in love, and that is thinking it is silly to be in love. Rosalind skips through both errors to wisdom.

Mark Van Doren, Shakespeare, 1


Touchstones role is that of the Court Jester, the all-licensed fool. It is as such that he first appears at Duke Fredericks court, using the Fools license to mock at the Knight who swore by his honor that the pancakes were good, and indulging himself at the same time with a side thrust at the Duke, who loves this honorless Knight. He is threatened, to be sure, with a whipping, the customary penalty for the Fool who overstepped his bounds- cf. Lears warning to his Jester- but he is clever enough to sidestep the danger at Court, and once he is in Arden all danger blows away in the forest air. Here he is free to practice, unchecked, his vocation, the exposure of folly. That, presumably, is the significance of his name; he is the touchstone that distinguishes pure from base metal.

Thomas Parrot, Shakespearean Comedy, 14


In this utopian pastoral world the fugitives also come upon the melancholy Jaques. He has no counterpart in Lodges novel; he is entirely Shakespeares invention. Because his only part in the comedy is to stand aloof from the action and make satiric comment upon all that happens, critics have been tempted to regard him as Shakespeares mouthpiece. Many readers have therefore mistaken the famous soliloquy beginning All the worlds a stage for a succinct revelation of the pessimism which captured Shakespeares mind about 1600. Life to him, they say, had then become just the pageant of futility of the melancholy Jaques vision.

This is a naive view of a highly effective dramatic figure- one that had become a popular stage type. Jaques is Shakespeares representative of the traveller recently returned from a sojourn on the continent, laden with boredom and histrionic pessimism. His melancholy is artificial and his disgust with everything at home is a pose.

Oscar Campbell, Shakespeares Satire, 155

[Jaques] cannot be wholly dismissed. A certain sour distaste for life is voided through him, something most of us feel at some time or other. If he were not there to give expression to it, we might be tempted to find the picture of life in the forest too sweet. His only action is to interfere in the marriage of Touchstone and Audrey; and this he merely postpones. His effect, whenever he appears, is to deflate the effect does not last and cheerfulness soon breaks in again.

Helen Gardner, As You Like It, 170


...In court, Celia and Rosalind have a completely equal, give-and-take relationship. However, once they enter the forest in their disguises, Celias part diminishes. Partly this is because Rosalinds involvement with Orlando is central to the design, but partly it functions to allow Rosalind to live out a freer, more assertive and independent role than she could otherwise. This tendency is observable in II, iv, before the women are aware that Orlando is in the forest too. In male garb, Rosalind automatically becomes the dominant figure of the two. It is she who deals with the outside world, who can meet and converse with men, speak and act assertively, even authoritatively. And she is listened to seriously, bantered with, without the deferential, complimentary, and essentially trivializing address that gentlewomen receive from gentlemen in Shakespeares plays. She is thus able to develop and demonstrate areas of her personality that could not, according to the stage conventions Shakespeare adhered to, be gracefully revealed if she were in female apparel. She restrains Touchstones arrogance and disparages Jaques melancholy; she chides Silvius and Phebe; she is flip with her father. Above all, she is able to speak to Orlando about love without coyness or concealment, without having to defend against romantic or erotic attitudes or demonstrations. In short, she can be a person.

Marilyn French, Shakespeares Division of Experience, 181

[As You Like It Contents]


We wish to thank the following educators who helped us focus our Book Notes series to meet student needs and critiqued our manuscripts to provide quality materials.

Sandra Dunn, English Teacher

Hempstead High School, Hempstead, New York

Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Professor of English

Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York

Leonard Gardner, Lecturer, English Department

State University of New York at Stony Brook

Beverly A. Haley, Member, Advisory Committee

National Council of Teachers of English Student Guide Series

Fort Morgan, Colorado

Elaine C. Johnson, English Teacher

Tamalpais Union High School District

Mill Valley, California

Marvin J. LaHood, Professor of English

State University of New York College at Buffalo

Robert Lecker, Associate Professor of English

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

David E. Manly, Professor of Educational Studies

State University of New York College at Geneseo

Bruce Miller, Associate Professor of Education

State University of New York at Buffalo

Frank OHare, Professor of English and Director of Writing

Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Faith Z. Schullstrom, Member of Executive Committee

National Council of Teachers of English

Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Guilderland Central School District, New York

Mattie C. Williams, Director, Bureau of Language Arts

Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois

[As You Like It Contents]




Babb, L. The Elizabethan Malady. East Lansing Michigan State College Press, 151. Examines the motif of melancholy in Shakespeares plays.

Barton, Anne. As You Like It and Twelfth Night Shakespeares Sense of an Ending, in Shakespearean Comedy. London Edward Arnold, 17.

Campbell, Oscar. Shakespeares Satire. New York Oxford University Press, 155.

Evans, Bertrand. Shakespeares Comedies. Oxford Clarendon Press, 160. A discussion of themes and characters.

French, Marilyn. Shakespeares Division of Experience. New York Random House, 181. A feminists view of Shakespeare.

Gardner, Helen. As You Like It, in More Talking of Shakespeare, ed. John Garrett. New York Theater Arts Books, 170.

Goldsmith, Robert Hollis. Wise Fools in Shakespeare. Michigan Michigan State University Press, 155.

Halio, Jay L., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of As You Like It. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice-Hall, 168. A useful collection of contemporary criticism.

Hayles, N. K. Sexual Disguise in As You Like It and Twelfth Night, in Shakespeare Survey, Vol. , pp. 6-7 (178). An examination of how disguise is used to reveal truth in these two plays.

Howarth, Herbert. The Tigers Heart. New York Oxford University Press, 170. Looks at Jaques in relation to Elizabethan satirists.

Parrot, Thomas M. Shakespearean Comedy. New York Oxford University Press, 14.

Pettet, E. C. Shakespeare and the Romance Tradition. London Staples Press, 14.

Shaw, J. Fortune and Nature in As You Like It, in Shakespeare Quarterly, VI, pp. 45-50 (155).

Van Doren, Mark. Shakespeare. New York H. Holt, 1. Commentary by a noted poet and critic.

Westlund, Joseph. Shakespeares Reparative Comedies. Chicago University of Chicago Press, 184. Readable analysis of As You Like It from a psychoanalytic perspective.


Shakespeare wrote 7 plays (8 if you include The Two Noble Kinsmen) over a 0-year period, from about 150 to 1610. Its difficult to determine the exact dates when many were written, but scholars have made the following intelligent guesses about his plays and poems


1588- The Comedy of Errors

1588-4 Loves Labors Lost

150-1 Henry VI

150-1 Henry VI

151- 1 Henry VI

15- Richard III

15-4 Titus Andronicus

15-4 The Taming of the Shrew

15-5 The Two Gentlemen of Verona

154-6 Romeo and Juliet

155 Richard II

154-6 A Midsummer Nights Dream

156-7 King John

156-7 The Merchant of Venice

157 1 Henry IV

157-8 Henry IV

158-1600 Much Ado About Nothing

158- Henry V

15 Julius Caesar

15-1600 As You Like It

15-1600 Twelfth Night

1600-01 Hamlet

157-1601 The Merry Wives of Windsor

1601-0 Troilus and Cressida

160-04 Alls Well That Ends Well

160-04 Othello

1604 Measure for Measure

1605-06 King Lear

1605-06 Macbeth

1606-07 Antony and Cleopatra

1605-08 Timon of Athens

1607-0 Coriolanus

1608-0 Pericles

160-10 Cymbeline

1610-11 The Winters Tale

1611-1 The Tempest

161-1 Henry VIII


15 Venus and Adonis

15-4 The Rape of Lucrece

15-1600 Sonnets

1600-01 The Phoenix and the Turtle

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