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    Is the forest of Arden a place of liberation? Essay

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    ‘ His admiration for the natural world ignores the privations of cold and loneliness finding ‘tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything’ Act 2, scene 1. The song sung by Amiens also speaks of the forest as a safe place despite the weather; ‘Here shall he see No enemy, But winter and rough weather’ Act 2 Scene 4. Celia perhaps views the forest as a temporary arrangement, ‘I like this place, and willingly could waste my time in it. ‘ Act 2, scene 5.

    Touchstone believes that court is the best place and tells Corin that he is damned because he has never been to court. His liberation in the forest come later when he realise for all his cynical ways he loves (or lusts after) Audrey, the country bumpkin, although he perhaps wishes she was more intellectual. His entry into the forest is due to his loyalty to his master’s daughter. Arden as a place of liberation can mean safety from persecution and also a place to be more individual than was customary in the court.

    Shakespeare uses the device of a different world to emphasise and define differences. When Celia and Rosalind leave the court and go into the forest, Celia changes her name to Aliena; this incorporates the word Alien, indicating the girls’ position in the forest as foreign and unfamiliar. Rosalind’s choice of alternative identities is very significant in the play. Ganymede was the cupbearer and beloved of Jove in Greek mythology and is a standard symbol of homosexual love. ‘In the context of the play, her choice of an alter ego contributes to a continuum of sexual possibilities.

    ‘ (Spark Notes) Rosalind represents Ganymede because her beauty shines through her disguise; Ganymede was described as a beautiful boy. The dramatic possibilities in production of a boy playing a girl dressed as a boy were tremendously comic, both to contemporaries and modern cinema audiences (Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola as Thomas Kent as Juliet in the film Shakespeare in Love). Rosalind is much more liberated by men’s clothing and takes a masculine role, leading the expedition. ‘But I must comfort the weaker vessel, as doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat. ‘ Act 2, scene 4.

    This shows Rosalind taking the lead and trying to show courage for Celia emphasising Shakespeare’s view; men were in charge. The isolation from the court means that the natives live by different rules although they have some awareness of status as in Act 2, Scene 4 Touchstone refers to himself and Rosalind and Celia as ‘your betters’ to Corin and he replies ‘else are they very wretched’. Although the duke and his men are dwelling in the forest they still keep their manners and courtly ways as gentlemen as Duke senior says to Orlando ‘Art thou thus boldened, man by this distress?

    Or else a rude despiser of good manners,’ Act 2, scene 7. Jacques is very melancholy character, does he not like the forest and prefers court? He maybe feels more imprisoned in the forest than he does in court because although throughout the forest he can come and go as he pleases he is unable to leave the forest and return to civilisation and the court. Shakespeare has many references to nature and the beauty of the forest. ‘Where in the purlieus of this forest stands, a sheepcote fenced about with olive trees?

    ‘ Act 4, scene 3 Perhaps this reflects his personal feeling of liberation as a country boy. He also has strong knowledge of the shepherd’s life. The lion could be another joke in the play you would have never found a lion in a forest, not even nowadays; lions live in jungles, not in Warwickshire or even Belgium. It is as improbable to find a lion in a forest as it is for two brothers to be the best of friends when once before they were trying to kill each other. All Corin’s natural philosophy is routed to the land and mainly sheep.

    ‘Good pasture makes fat sheep’ Act 3 Scene 2 is as profound a comment as Jacques’s melancholy and Touchstone’s wit. In conclusion the Forest of Arden represents a sort of Utopia for some of the characters, for Celia it is just a brief rural excursion, for Rosalind and her father it is a refuge away from the court’s political unrest, for Orlando it is another sanctuary and place to explore his feelings in solitude. For Shakespeare the Forest of Arden is a chance to cautiously probe the iniquities of the a distasteful political regime, while amusing both upper and lower classes.

    The word liberation, meaning to set free, implies a previous captivity or isolation, indicating that the characters who go to the Forest are leaving a state of imprisonment. Celia is imprisoned by her father and is liberated on entry to the forest, by a sense of independence. Rosalind is separated from her father and she believes, her love for Orlando. The shepherds and shepherdesses who live in the forest have the independence and freedom coveted by the exiles and Celia and Rosalind, yet are not free to exist without hard work. Liberation only really exists in the minds of those who choose to use it.

    Bibliography Hopkins, Lisa. “Orlando and the Golden World: The Old World and the New in As You Like It. ” Early Modern Literary Studies 8. 2 (September, 2002): 2. 1-21 ;URL: http://purl. oclc. org/emls/08-2/hopkgold. htm;. Abrams et al (1979) The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Norton: New York M. Drabble ; J. Stringer (1990) The Concise Oxford Companion To English Literature, Oxford University Press: Oxford Shakespeare (1993) As You Like it, Oxford University Press: Oxford John Madden (1998) Shakespeare In Love, Universal, Basil Coleman (1978) As You Like It, BBC www. sparknotes. com/shakespeare/asyoulikeit/.

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