As You Like Itby William Shakespeare(1564 – 1616)Type of Work:Romantic comedySettingFrance; Duke Frederick’s court and Forestof Arden; 1500sPrincipal CharactersDuke Senior, exiled rightful rulerDuke Frederick, usurper of his brother’sdukedomOliver and Orlando, sons of Sir Rowlandde BoysAdam, long-time servant to Sir RowlandRosalind, Duke Senior’s daughterCelia, Duke Frederick’s daughterPhebe, a shepherdessSilvius, a shepherd with unrequited lovefor PhebeTouchstone, a “motley fool” jester whoprovides good-humor throughout the playStory OverveiwOrlando was angry with his older brotherOliver for giving him nothing from their father’s estate. He complainedloudly to Adam, an old family servant. just then, in walked Oliver, theobject of Orlando’s ire.Order now
They quarreled, and though Adam pled with them”for your father’s remembrance” not to fight, Orlando continued to demandhis share of the inheritance – which Oliver at last reluctantly grantedin order to avoid violence. Then, as Orlando left, Oliver drove Adam outas well: “Get you with him, you old dog. ” Left alone, Oliver summoned mightyCharles, the court wrestler. The next day Orlando was to wrestle Charles,and Oliver charged him, “I had as lief thou did’st break his neck as hisfinger.
” Meanwhile, at the court of Duke Frederick, his daughter Celiaconsoled melancholy Rosalind, her cousin – and the daughter of the recentlydeposed duke Senior. But Celia’s consolations were futile; Rosalind couldnot “forget a banished father. ” Only when Celia promised that she wouldturn over her whole future inheritance – the dukedom itself – to Rosalind,did Rosalind grow “merry” again. The cousins then decided to go watch thewrestling match. Meeting Orlando on the way, they tried to persuade himto “give over this attempt” at besting Charles, who had already crushedthe ribs of three challengers.
But Orlando would not be dissuaded. The match ended quickly; to the astonishmentof all, Charles was thrown and Orlando declared the victor. Duke Frederickcalled the champion forward to receive his reward, but upon learning thatOrlando was the son of his enemy, Sir Rowland, he angrily sent the youngman on his way. Rosalind, on the other hand, offered her hero a chain:”Wear this for me,” she told him. Then she blushingly added, “Sir, youhave wrestled well, and overthrown more than your enemies. “Just days later, Duke Frederick grufflytook Rosalind aside.
“Within these ten days” he warned, “if that thou be’stfound so near our public court as twenty miles, thou diest for it. ” WhenRosalind protested that she was not a traitor, her uncle was unmoved. Asthe daughter of Duke Senior, Frederick’s deposed brother, Rosalind wasunwelcome in his realm. But unbeknownst to Frederick, his own daughterCelia offered to join her cousin in exile.
That night the girls would departfor the forest of Arden, where Duke Senior now lived. Since the forestwas a dangerous place for two women alone, the taller Rosalind dressedas a pageboy, calling herself “Ganymede,” while Celia put on the rags ofa shepherdess, and called herself “Aliena. ” They also invited the “clownishfool of court,” Touchstone, to accompany them. That evening, thethree fugitives escaped, undetected. Now that same night, Adam warned Orlandoof Oliver’s plan to burn Orlando’s house, leaving him no safe refuge.
Adamoffered Orlando his life’s savings and asked, “Let me be your servant. “Orlando gladly accepted and together they, too, left for the forest ofArden. As Celia, Touchstone, and Rosalind – shein boy’s clothing – made their way through the woods, they overheard ashepherd, Silvius, pouring out his heart to his friend Corin: “O Corin,that thou knew’st how I do love her [Phebel!” With this, the distraughtshepherd ran away. Rosalind and company, “with travel much oppressed,”then approached Corin, and he extended an invitation for them to eat andrest in his own humble cottage. Meanwhile, in another part of the forest,Adam, faint after their long journey, complained to Orlando: “Dear master.
. . I die for food. ” Orlando promised he would bring victuals to the faithfulold servant, or die trying.
As he searched for food, he came upon the exiledDuke Senior and his men, who were about to eat. Orlando strutted towardsthem and menacingly decreed, “Forebear, and eat no more! . . . He dies thattouches any of this fruit till I and my affairs are answered.
” Duke Senior,unoffended, invited Orlando to sit down and join them. Then, embarrassedby his own behavior, Orlando begged their forgiveness and hurried to retrieveAdam. As everyone ate, Orlando revealed to Duke Senior that he was theson of Sir Rowland, where upon the Duke exclaimed, “I am the Duke thatloved your father. “Back at court, Duke Frederick, believingthat Orlando had helped Celia and Rosalind escape, threatened Oliver withthe seizure of his lands unless he brought his brother back to him in chains.
With this, he sent the young man packing for the forest of Arden. Now as Orlando made his way through theforest, he went about carving poems into trees declaring his love for Rosalind. Dressed as Ganymedc, Rosalind found one of the verses: “Let no face bekept in mind but the fair of Rosalind. ” Celia also happened on one of thepoems, goodnaturedly teased Rosalind, and revealed that Rosalind’s ownOrlando was the author. Suddenly, up strode Orlando himself with one ofDuke Senior’s men. Rosalind – as Ganymede decided to “play the knave withhim” and addressed him “like a saucy lackey.
” Eventually, “Ganymede” poseda remedy for Oriando’s love: Orlando was to woo Ganymede as though he wereRosalind. The “boy” would then run the gambit of emotions with his “suitor,”thereby curing him of his passion. The next morning “Ganymede” awaited Orlando,but he failed to come. As the disguised Rosalind confided her misery toCelia, Corin came to announce the approach of Phebe and Silvius. Sure enough,Silvius appeared, once more pleading with his shepherdess – “Sweet I’hcbe,do not scorn me” -which only made Phebe scorn him more. Then Rosalind steppedforward to berate them both.
But even as “Ganymede” chidcd Phebe for herdisdain and scolded Silvius for putting up with it, Phebe was enchantedby “his” beauty. “I had rather hear you chide,” she simpered, “than thisman woo. “Finally Orlando arrived. “Orlando, wherehave you been all this while? You a lover? . .
. ” Rosalind wailed, asif she were a boy mimicking a lady. Orlando begged her pardon, and, atlast Rosalind forgave him: “Come, woo me, woo me; for now I am in a holidayhumor and like enough to consent. What would you say to me now, and I wereyour very very Rosalind?” and they bantered back and forth until Rosalindmaneuvered Orlando into asking for her hand in marriage. Orlando laterdeparted.
Soon after, Oliver came upon the boy Ganymede,whose name he recognized. Displaying Oriando’s bloody handkerchief, Oliverexplained his brother’s earlier delay. It seems that while Oliver nappedbeneath a free, Orlando, passing by on his way to woo Ganymede, had comeupon his sleeping brother in mortal danger from a lurking lioness – andturned back to the rescue. .
. . . .
Kindness, nobler even than revenge, Andnature, stronger than his just occasion, made him give battle to the lioness. “Orlando’s intervention had converted his brother’s hatred into love; thetwo were reconciled. At the sight of Orlando’s blood-stainedhandkerchief, however, Rosalind swooned, a most unmanly act. Though shequickly regained herself – “I pray you tell your brother how well I counterfeited”- Oliver was not fooled. “It was a passion of earnest,” he was certain.
When Oliver returned to Orlando, he recountedall that had transpired. He also confessed his love for Aliena (Celia)and swore that Orlando could keep their father’s entire estate; he, Oliver,would now prefer to stay in the forest to “live and die a shepherd. “Ganymede then advanced toward Orlando,offering once more to substitute for his beloved Rosalind. But Orlandocould not play the part; his sadness was too deep.
Filled with compassion,Ganymede promised him that on the morrow, by magical art, he would “set before your eyes. “Then up walked Phebe, still in a huff,and still followed by the devoted Silvius. Ganymede once more chided her:”. . .
You are followed by a faithful shepherd: Look upon him, love him;he worships you. ” Phebe, however, still proclaimed her love for Ganymede. So, Rosalind struck a bargain with Phebe: If on the following day Phebestill wanted to marry Ganymede, they would marry. But if Phebe refused,then she must wed the scorned Silvius. Phebe agreed. The next day, as all the suitors waitedin the forest, Hymen, the goddess of marriage, entered the clearing withRosalind – dressed finally as herself.
Orlando was thrilled; Phebe wasshocked. “If sight and shape be true, why then, my love adieu!” she wailed. Orlando and his Rosalind, Oliver and Celia,Phebe and Silvius – and even Touchstone with Aubrey, a “homely wench” fromthe forest joined hands in marriage as Hymen chirped:Whiles a wedlock we sing,Feed yourself with questioning,That reason wonder may diminish,How thus we met, and these things finish. CommentaryOne of Shakespeare’s most famous works,As You Like It possesses many classic elements of comedy. The personaldivisions at the outset (two Duke-brothers at war, two other brothers filledwith hate for one another, daughters separated from their fathers) allstrike a discordant note central to the comedic form.
Moreover, the deviceof Rosalind being mistaken for a man creates humorous tension throughout. As in most comedies, though, by the end of the play all wrongs are somehowrighted; brothers come together and every Jack has his Jill.