"As You Like It" by Shakespeare, analysis by chapter Automatic translate
A summary of Shakespeare’s play "As You Like It", a list of characters, information about the work - on this page .
Act one, scene one
Orlando is in the orchard of his brother’s house, talking to Adam, the family’s old servant. Orlando complains about the way his older brother Oliver treats him. Since Oliver is the elder brother, he has inherited all the property of Sir Rowland de Bois, as well as the responsibility of looking after his younger brothers. Orlando is upset that he is not allowed to go to school and is forced to work with animals at home. Seeing Oliver approaching, Adam quickly hides.
Oliver arrives and orders Orlando to do some work instead of standing around doing nothing. Orlando angrily tells Oliver that he has as much of their father’s blood in him as Oliver does. Oliver rushes angrily at Orlando, who quickly grabs his older brother by the throat and holds him down. Adam comes out of his hiding place and asks them to be patient with each other. Orlando replies that Oliver denied him an education befitting his noble rank. Therefore, he asks Oliver to give him the small part of the money that Sir Rowland left him in his will (a thousand crowns) so that he can leave and look for his fortune elsewhere.
Oliver agrees to give Orlando some of his inheritance, and then turns to Adam and tells him, "Call him, you old dog." Adam takes offense at being treated this way after years of service to his family and leaves with Orlando.
Oliver meets with Charles, the duke’s wrestler, and asks what is going on at court. Charles tells him old news: the new duke has expelled his brother, the old duke. The old duke has gone away with several lords and now lives in the Ardennes where "they live like old Robin Hood in England". Rosalind, the old duke’s daughter, remained at court with her cousin, the new duke’s daughter.
Charles then informs Oliver that he has become aware that Orlando plans to challenge him the next day in the Duke’s presence. As Charles fights for his reputation, he points out that he can hurt Orlando and hopes that Oliver can talk his brother out of the challenge. Oliver cruelly tells Charles that Orlando is plotting against his life, and that if Charles defeats Orlando without seriously injuring him, then Orlando will most likely plot against him. Charles promises to hurt Orlando as much as possible, to the point that he won’t be able to walk anymore.
Act one, scene two
Rosalind is saddened by her father’s expulsion, and Celia tries to cheer her up. Celia urges her cousin to be happier and promises that she will always treat her with love, despite the fact that their roles in the world were reversed when Duke Frederick usurped the position of senior duke. Rosalind agrees to try to be happy and offers to play games such as pretending to be in love.
The clown Touchstone enters and interrupts their conversation. He tells Celia that her father wants to see her. She makes him wittyly amuse himself with a play on words until he declares, "It’s all the more pitiful that fools cannot speak wisely about what fools do foolishly." Le Baux, Duke Frederick’s courtier, arrives, and both women joke that he will make them listen to the news.
Le Baux greets Celia in French. He tries to tell them about the wrestling match, but Touchstone and the women start joking with words again, causing him to lose track of the conversation. Finally, Le Baux is allowed to speak, and he reveals that Charles fought the three brothers and defeated each of them in turn. The father, seeing that all his sons are defeated, laments their defeat and the fact that the eldest broke three ribs in the process.
He finally tells the women that if they stay where they are, they will be able to watch the next match as it was scheduled at that location. They gladly agree to stay and watch. Duke Frederick enters and tells his men that Orlando cannot be dissuaded from fighting Charles and therefore deserves his fate. Rosalind interrupts the conversation and tells Frederick that she will talk to Orlando and try to convince him not to fight.
Celia begs Orlando to let her ask her father to cancel the wrestling match. He tells the ladies that he has no one in the world to mourn him and that he is willing to risk even death in pursuit of defeating Charles. Eventually Rosalind gives him her blessing, wanting him to win. Frederic calls for a duel, but tells them that they will fight until one of them is knocked to the ground. Orlando manages to grab Charles and throw him, knocking him unconscious and thus winning.
Duke Frederick asks Orlando what his name is, and he replies that he is Orlando, the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois. Frederick is not happy to hear this as Sir Rowland was his enemy when he usurped the throne. He wishes Orlando all the best and leaves without presenting him with an award. Celia is ashamed of her father’s envious attitude towards Orlando, but Rosalind is delighted, because her father was a close friend of Sir Rowland.
Both women approach Orlando, and Rosalind gives him a chain from her neck. He can’t even say thank you because Rosalind leaves him speechless. She prepares to leave, then thinks he called her back, but ends up leaving with Celia. Le Baux returns and warns Orlando that the duke is against him. He advises Orlando to leave immediately. Orlando first asks him who the two women were and learns that the necklace was given to him by Rosalind.
Act one, scene three
Rosalind is also speechless after meeting Orlando, and Celia is surprised that her cousin fell in love so quickly. Duke Frederick arrives and angrily orders Rosalind to pack her things and leave. He tells her that if she is caught within twenty miles of the court, he will kill her. She protests that she did nothing to him, but he still accuses her of betrayal. Celia protests on Rosalind’s behalf, but Frederick remains unperturbed and banishes Rosalind.
Celia tells Rosalind that she will leave with her. Rosalind cunningly decides that they should disguise themselves as men and, under the guise of men, go to their father in the forest. She chooses the name Ganymede, and Celia - Aliena, which means "outcast". They then arrange that Touchstone will also go with them to entertain themselves during the journey.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare touches on many topics related to the Elizabethan society in which he lived. One such theme is primogeniture, a policy whereby the eldest son inherits everything. Orlando, being the youngest brother in his family, is faced with the problem that he received a meager inheritance as a result of this rule. Oliver also turns out to be a nightmarish version of the tyrannical older brother. He plots against Orlando and tries to force the wrestler Charles to kill his younger brother. Shakespeare’s issue of primogeniture is given an additional twist in the play by the fact that Duke Frederick usurped the dukedom from his elder brother. Thus, the issue of inheritance is a fundamental theme throughout the play and cannot be ignored.
Another comparison between the play and England is the reference to the elder duke and his men as Robin Hoods. They are described like this: "they live like the old Robin Hood from England." Thus, Shakespeare creates the image of England, although we are in another country. This helps to bring the play closer to the audience. The appeal to Robin Hood also serves a second purpose, namely, to establish which duke is good and which is evil. Robin Hood is a story that all Elizabethan theater goers were familiar with, and it’s a way to immediately give Duke Senior a personality without having to write too many lines into the play for him.
One of the brilliant things about As You Like It is how Shakespeare invokes double entenders. This is often done using word associations. The Arden forest, the Ardennes, Arcadia or Eden are a vivid example of this. The Ardennes is a forest located between France, Luxembourg and Belgium, while the Arden Forest is an English forest located near Shakespeare’s birthplace in Warwickshire. Arden is also the maiden name of Shakespeare’s mother. The play itself incorporates pastoral themes from Sir Philip Sidney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, thus evoking the image of Arcadia, or Paradise. Also, the word is reminiscent of Eden, the biblical paradise where Adam and Eve first met, which isn’t an entirely unrealistic interpretation given the four marriages that end the play.
Another combination of words is Orlando, Rowland or Roland. Just by mixing up the letters, it’s easy to see how similar the two names are. Indeed, Orlando is often compared to his father, Sir Rowland. This man, already dead when the play begins, bears a striking resemblance to Sir Roland, the great medieval knight Charlemagne. Orlando follows this spirit, saying, "And the spirit of my father, which I think is in me, begins to rebel against this slavery." Orlando will use his natural greatness to defeat Charles the wrestler and later save his brother from a lion.
Themes of sexuality and sexual identity rage throughout this play. Almost all characters, both male and female, have homosexual overtones. This is evidenced by the description of Rosalind and Celia. Charles says that "never two ladies loved as they did" and that "she (Celia) would follow her (Rosalind’s) exile or die to be left behind". Celia later tells Rosalind, "I see that you don’t love me as much as I love you." Celia later argues with her father about keeping them apart.
In this description, Rosalind and Celia are like Hermia and Helen from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They must separate before they can learn to love properly, before they can become complete women and marry their husbands. Indeed, the whole escape into the forest will eventually tear them apart, allowing them to become women in their own right, and not "Juno’s swans."
The names that Rosalind and Celia have chosen for themselves add to the play’s sexual confusion. Rosalind says to Celia: "Look, you call me Ganymede." Ganymede was the cupbearer of the gods, the young man Job fell in love with. Job turned into an eagle and took Ganymede with him to heaven. Thus, the name Ganymede is most often used to describe a form of homosexual love between an old man and a young man. Rosalind’s choice of this name becomes important later, when Orlando seduces her (in the guise of Ganymede) as if she were his Rosalind.
The name chosen by Celia, Alina, means "lost". The name suits her very well, because at the beginning of the play she is really lost. She cannot survive without Rosalind, the woman who overshadows Celia throughout the play. So Celia must lose herself in order to find herself. Indeed, one of the reasons for Rosalind’s banishment is to force Celia to become a woman independent of Rosalind. Duke Frederick tells her: “You are a fool. She (Rosalind) deprives you of your name.” He alone seems to understand that Celia’s only path to maturity is to reject or lose Rosalind.
Touchstone is perhaps one of the most interesting characters. His name describes a black mineral used to test the purity of gold and silver, and in the same way he will test the wits of those he meets. It also serves as a mirror for the other characters, reflecting their traits. Thus, when he meets Jacques, he is described as a fool; when he meets the Elder Duke, he is described as a wit in disguise (5.4.95-96). Each character sees himself in Touchstone.
Rosalind’s crush on Orlando coincides with her expulsion from court. This is her first step away from a protected life. Like many of Shakespeare’s heroines in love, she must risk everything if she wants to win her love. For Rosalind, this is made easier by the fact that Duke Frederick exiles her. In her youth, she was left without a father and a lover on whom she could rely - an unusual situation for that time. Therefore, Rosalind is able to leave the safety of the court and go into the wilderness, eventually winning Orlando as her future husband.
Silence is a dangerous topic that Shakespeare touches on in many of his comedies. This is always a bad sign, meaning a misunderstanding or a conspiracy. In this play, Orlando is silent when he meets Rosalind after the wrestling match: "I can’t speak to her, but she called for a conference." Rosalind, too, is silent at first, causing Celia to say, "Why cousin,…not a word?". The silence must be overcome in order for the relationship to mature, and this is indeed happening. In the following acts, she quickly turns into a literary love. The climax of the play is that Orlando risks everything by trusting Ganymede to marry Rosalind. In this he is like Bassanio from The Merchant of Venice or Claudio from Much Ado About Nothing.
Act two, scene one
The senior duke, the exiled duke, is in the woods with his men. He compares the forest to paradise and tells them that he is perfectly happy where he is. He asks them if they would like to go and shoot a deer. One of the lords remarks that Jacques, a perpetually melancholy figure, has been moralizing about the benefits of killing a deer. He tells that Jacques was watching a wounded deer and noticed that they (the people) were taking the forest from the animals. The Duke asks to be brought to where Jacques is so that he can talk to him.
Act two, scene two
Duke Frederick has just learned that his daughter and Rosalind have escaped during the night. He is furious at their escape. One of the lords informs him that they were last overheard talking about how beautiful Orlando is. Duke Frederick orders them to go to Oliver’s house and seize Orlando, and if Orlando is absent, arrest Oliver.
Act two, scene three
Orlando returns to Oliver’s house and finds Adam there. Adam warns him that Oliver is plotting to kill him by burning down Orlando’s house at night with Orlando inside. Orlando asks the servant how he is going to survive if he is thrown out of the house. Adam tells him that he has accumulated five hundred crowns in his life, which he will give to Orlando if Orlando takes him with him. Orlando agrees to take Adam with him.
Act two, scene four
Rosalind and Celia, under the names of Ganymede and Alina, respectively, arrive in the Ardennes, accompanied by Touchstone. Rosalind is dressed like a man, and Celia is like a shepherdess. They are all tired and complain that they cannot go any further.
Two shepherds, Corin and Sylvius, arrive and discuss the fact that Sylvius is in love with Phoebe. Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone go unnoticed in the background. Korin, an older man, tries to give Sylvius advice, but he states that Korin is too old to understand his feelings. Silvius leaves, and Rosalind remarks that she can understand how Silvius feels. Touchstone then tells them about some of the stupid things he did when he was in love.
Rosalind orders Touchstone to go to Corin and ask if he will give them food for some gold. Touchstone calls him a clown, which causes Rosalind to say, "World, fool, he’s no relation to you." She then approaches Korin and asks if there is somewhere they can get food. Korine informs her that he works for another person and therefore has no right to offer hospitality. However, he mentions that the place is for sale and that Silvius was there to consider buying land and herds. Rosalind promptly offers to buy the land and hire Corin to take care of it with an increase in salary. Korin happily agrees to help them acquire land.
Act two, scene five
Amiens sits with Jacques and the other lords in the forest and entertains them with song. He finishes his song and Jacques asks to hear more. Amiens tells him that this will make him melancholy, but Jacques persists until he agrees. All the men join in singing another song. Jacques then performs a verse he composed himself. Having finished singing, Amiens leaves to find the duke.
Act two, scene six
Adam is tired and tells Orlando he can’t go any further into the woods. Orlando promises to find food for him. Meanwhile, Orlando carries Adam off the stage to find him a home.
Act two, scene seven
Duke Senior, accompanied by other lords, is looking for Jacques. He is about to send them out to find Jacques when Jacques appears. The Duke notices that Jacques looks very cheerful. Jacques tells him: “Fool, fool, I met a fool in this forest, Motley fool - a miserable world! “Because I live off food, I met a fool.” Jacques describes meeting a man who lay down on the ground and took out his watch. The fool said that it was now ten o’clock, that an hour ago it was nine, and in an hour it would be eleven. Jacques was so funny that he laughed for an hour. In the end, he says to the duke: "Oh, if I were a fool."
The Duke tells Jacques that he could only insult people if he had a fool’s license (fools were allowed to discuss any matter, even if they insulted nobles, without fear of being punished). Jacques claims that he will be witty and that people can only be insulted if they have done something for which they deserve to be insulted. He is interrupted by Orlando, who enters with a drawn sword.
Orlando runs in and shouts: "Shut up and don’t eat anymore!" He orders people to give him food. The Duke politely invites Orlando to sit down and join them. He is stunned by the duke’s answer and says: “Forgive me, I beg you. I thought everyone here was savage.” Orlando asks them to wait while he fetches Adam so the old man can eat first. The Duke tells him that they won’t touch the food until he returns.
After Jacques’ speech, Orlando arrives with Adam on his shoulders and sits the old man down. Both of them thank the Duke for his hospitality. Amiens then sings a long song for them, after which the duke says that he knew Orlando’s father well. He invites Orlando to come to his cave and tell him what happened to him. Adam is helped to leave by the other lords.
The character of old Adam is one of the most unique. In many ways, Adam represents the old world, a world that no longer has power but cannot be forgotten. Adam agrees to follow Orlando into the forest, which, in fact, indicates his dissatisfaction with the new world in which he lives. When Orlando carries him, it marks a moment similar to how Aeneas carried Anchises on his back, escaping from burning Troy. Thus, all characters treat Adam with reverence, given his age and wisdom.
The Forest of Arden must be seen as a projection of oneself, as an intensification of oneself. The Elder Duke describes his people as capable: "Find tongues in trees, books in streams, Sermons in stones, and goodness in everything." This is an image of the duke’s own kindness. Later in the play, however, Oliver encounters a very different version of the forest. He encounters snakes and lions, and becomes long-haired and wild-looking. Thus, Arden appears to everyone in him differently, depending on his personality.
In fact, this becomes apparent when we see Adam and Orlando walking around the wild paradise, hungry for food. This contrasts with the banquet the elder duke arranges for his people. And indeed, Orlando is a savage: “Be patient, and don’t eat anymore!”, He shouts, seeing the food that Duke Senior has spread on the ground. Surprised by the politeness with which he is greeted, Orlando says: “Forgive me, I beg you. I thought everyone here was savage.” Orlando thinks he is in a wild place, but the wilderness is more civilized than he is. The irony lies in the fact that in this play the brutal man is in the court, and not in the village.
Jacques is perhaps the main character, showing that Arden is a projection of himself. Jacques says to the elder duke: “Fool, fool, I met a fool in the forest, A motley fool - a miserable world! “Because I live off food, I met a fool.” In fact, he met himself in the forest. Arden projects his own qualities again. This is further enhanced by the fact that the Touchstone is a mirror for other people. Jacques then "foolishly" wishes to become a fool, because licensed fools were allowed to say whatever they wanted without fear of punishment.
Shakespeare sets As You Like It in a pastoral setting, but he also satirizes the pastoral style of writing. One of the main aspects of the pastoral is that the village people are simple and good-natured. However, this is not the case when Rosalind and Celia first meet Corin: “But I am another man’s shepherd, Nor do I shear the sheep that I feed. My master is of a quarrelsome disposition, And does not seek to find a way to paradise By deeds of hospitality… there is nothing, What would you eat. By denying hospitality to women, Shakespeare ridicules the stereotype that village people give everything to strangers.
Much of the play is based on paradoxes. Ganymede is a woman who is actually a male actor (actually a boy) playing a woman. Even more dramatic, in the Ardennes, the noble savages run wild on the nobles. Orlando, despite his noble upbringing, is much wilder than the nobles he finds there to be devoured. These paradoxes not only play with the concept of the pastoral, but also challenge gender identity. While no one will deny that there is a paradox in being both a woman and a man, in Shakespeare’s time the question of gender was much freer than in today’s society. Women were considered anatomically identical to men, except that the uterus was considered an inverted male reproductive organ. This view of sex allowed Shakespeare to force Rosalind, being Ganymede,
In this act, Jacques delivers his famous speech, beginning with the words: "The whole world is a stage…". This speech is important because all the characters and stages of life are described in terms of speech: the lover sighs, the soldier utters strange oaths, the old man loses his manly voice, and in the finale the man cannot speak at all, having lost everything. Thus, speech is perceived as passing time. This notion that time is passing is part of what makes Jacques so melancholic. He believes that the end is “no teeth, no eyes, no taste, no everything”, a feeling of loss. However, regardless of what Jacques claims about old age, we have Adam to throw Jacques’ words aside. Adam is clearly not devoid of teeth, eyes, taste, and everything else except stamina. It’s Shakespeare at his best again, showing the stupidity of Jacques,
Act three, scene one
Duke Frederick was unable to find Orlando at Oliver’s house. As a result, he tells Oliver that he has a year to find his brother and bring him back dead or alive. During this time, Duke Frederick will confiscate all of Oliver’s possessions and hold him until Orlando can be brought to him. Oliver says he never loved his brother.
Act three, scene two
Orlando enters with a piece of paper on which he wrote a sonnet for Rosalind. He says that he will write his love poems on the bark of trees. Orlando then hangs the sonnet on a tree and leaves it there, commenting: “Run, run, Orlando; carve on every tree.”
Enter Corinne and Touchstone. Touchstone tells Corin what he thinks about the life of a shepherd and then asks Corin if he has ever been at court. Korin tells him "no", and then Touchstone says that Korin is thus cursed. He believes that if Korin has never been at court, then he never learned good manners, so his manners must be bad, and if he has bad manners, then he is damned. Korine tries her best to protest, but is unable to win a verbal battle with Touchstone.
Rosalind enters, dressed as Ganymede, and recites a poem she found in a tree. Every other line rhymes with Rosalind, and Touchstone scoffs at it when she finishes. He then composes a poem with the same rhyme, but offends Rosalind, comparing her either to animals or to prostitutes. Then he remarks: "Verily, the tree bears bad fruit."
Celia, dressed as Alina, also enters with a poem. She begins to read it, and it turns out that it is also addressed to Rosalind. Celia chases Corin and Touchstone away, then turns to Rosalind and asks if she knows who hangs her name on every tree. Rosalind replies that she doesn’t know and then begs Celia to tell her. Celia finally reveals that Orlando is the man who forsakes all poetry.
Orlando and Jacques enter and both women hide to listen to them. Jacques tells Orlando that he would be just as happy without his company, and Orlando responds in kind. Then Orlando agrees to no longer stain the trees with his letter, if Jacques does not stain the poems by reading them unsympathetically. Jacques tells Orlando that he was looking for a fool when he met him. Orlando replies: “He drowned in the stream. Just look over there and you will see it.” Jacques gets up and leaves, realizing that he has been called a fool.
Rosalind comes out and turns to Orlando, asking him what time it is. He replies that there is no time in the forest, but she notices that time flows at different speeds for everyone. She then introduces Celia as a shepherdess and her sister. Orlando, mistaking her for a young man, remarks that she has an excellent accent for a country person. Rosalind pretends that she had an uncle from the outback who taught her how to speak.
Rosalind tells Orlando that a man is walking through the woods and ruining trees by carving Rosalind’s name on them. He confesses that this is the same person and asks if she knows a remedy for this. She tells him that he is clearly not in love with Rosalind, since his cheeks are not sunken and disheveled to be in love. Orlando swears he is in love with Rosalind and asks her if there is a cure. She tells him that she once cured a man of his love by making him pretend that she was his mistress. After long pretense, the man became a real man and ended his life in a monastery.
Orlando tells her that he does not want to be treated, but Rosalind replies that if he pretends to be Rosalind, then she will do everything possible to cure him. He agrees to go to her cottage and start calling her Rosalind.
Act three, scene three
Touchstone fell in love with a goat named Audrey. She is simple and does not even know what the word "poetic" means. Touchstone remarks that she is chaste and pretty, but Audrey desires her to be "incoherent", apparently thinking that "incoherent" is praise. Touchstone ignores her stupidity and tells her that he will marry her. Throughout this scene, Jacques watches the action and makes scathing remarks.
Sir Oliver Martext, vicar from a nearby village, arrives to marry them. He asks if there is anyone to marry Audrey and tells Touchstone that someone must marry her or the marriage will not be legal. Jacques comes out of his hiding place and agrees to marry her off. However, before the wedding, Jacques asks Touchstone if an educated man like him really wants to get married in the middle of nowhere. After listening to Jacques, Touchstone eventually agrees to postpone the wedding and let Jacques advise him.
Act three, scene four
Rosalind and Celia are waiting for Orlando to come. Rosalind freaks out when he doesn’t show up, and Celia tells her that a lover’s promise means nothing. Korin, the old shepherd, enters and informs Rosalind that he has found Silvius and Phoebe. He informs her that she can watch the lovers together if she goes with him. Rosalind says, "Bring us to this place and you’ll say I’ll be a busy actor in their game."
Act three, scene five
Silvius begs Phoebe to show him mercy and tell him that she loves him. She despises his love and tells him that she does not feel sorry for him for the pain he feels in loving her. Rosalind emerges from where she has been watching their exchange and tells Phoebe that she is rather nondescript. She further informs Sylvia that he flatters Phoebe too much for her to afford it. Turning to Phoebe, Rosalind says, “Kneel down And thank heaven by fasting for the love of a good man; I should say to you in a friendly ear: Sell when you can. You are not for all markets.”
Phoebe falls in love with Rosalind despite her harsh words. Rosalind convinces Phoebe to listen to Sylvius and despises her love. However, she tells Phoebe where to find her house in the woods. Rosalind then leaves with Celia and Corinne.
Phoebe is so enamored with Rosalind that she is finally able to empathize with Sylvia. She agrees to stay and talk to him about love. Phoebe decides to write a love letter to Rosalind (who she thinks is Ganymede). Sylvius agrees to help her.
Orlando, who in the first act was seen as Rosalind’s silent lover, now moves on to the literary stage of love. He imitates the role of Petrashevsky’s lover, a man who writes sonnets to his beloved and adores her to infinity. Thus, we see how Orlando leaves sonnets on the trees and carves the name of Rosalind on each trunk. But in a sense, he is only a parody of a real Petrarch’s lover. After all, Orlando never really sees Rosalind and does not talk to her, which invalidates everything that he writes about her. This excess of emotions is what Rosalind, now in the form of Ganymede, will try to stop. She will prefer mature love based on conversation rather than ephemeral notions of feminine virtue.
The emotional and literary excess portrayed by Orlando is, of course, ridiculed by Touchstone. Taking advantage of the fact that Rosalind’s name is scrawled on every tree, he comments: "Verily, the tree bears bad fruit." Touchstone not only imitates the writing of lovers’ names on trees, but again serves as a mirror, reflecting the fact that the poems are terrible. He goes so far as to compose a poem that ridicules Rosalind rather than praises her, a parody that clearly shows how bad other poems are.
In the second act, Jacques has already shown himself to be a fool after meeting Touchstone. Here he appears as a narcissist, a narcissist. Orlando imitates him, advising to look for the fool in a literal mirror, saying: “He drowned in the stream. Just look over there and you will see it.” Jacques does not immediately understand that he was insulted, and this spoils his character even more.
One of the main fears of men in all Shakespeare’s comedies is to become a cuckold. Basically, it is the fear that after marriage they will not be able to satisfy their wife sexually and she will sleep with other men. The main image of a husband deceived by his wife is a man in bull horns. However, at the heart of this fear lies the need for marriage as a social institution. Touchstone said it best: “Odious as horns are, they are necessary.” Therefore, despite his intelligence, he marries the simple Audrey. “As an ox has a bow, sir, a horse has a bridle, a falcon has bells, so a man has his desires.” For Touchstone, it’s a necessity to become a fully mature person.
One of the characteristics of Rosalind is that she is dealing with a play created primarily for her enjoyment. Therefore, she becomes the director of the play, managing all its subplots and influencing the action. She says, "Bring us to this place and you’ll say, I’ll be a busy actor in their play." In this way, Rosalind is like Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She can interfere in other people’s lives and play games with them. However, while she is ruling over others, Rosalind is still not free from Celia. By participating in the play and controlling the actions of the other characters, Rosalind will secure her release from Celia, allowing her to marry Orlando.
Just as Orlando courts the invisible Rosalind, Sylvius’s love for Phoebe is also Petrarchian love in abundance. Rosalind sees similarities between Sylvius and Orlando’s behavior and tries to heal Orlando of it. She alone understands that a woman is not worth such idolatry, given that women also have flaws that a man will have to deal with in marriage. Thus, when Phoebe despises Silvius, Rosalind intelligently remarks: “Get on your knees And thank heaven by fasting for the love of a good man; After all, I should say to you in a friendly ear: Sell when you can. You are not for all markets.” This clearly undermines the virtuous deification of women that Sylvius and Orlando originally aspired to. Instead, he directly says that women are people too and that a man should know both their shortcomings and virtues,
Although it seems obvious that Rosalind is leaning towards Orlando, she still plays with the relationship between a woman and a man, which was mentioned at the very beginning. So when Phoebe falls in love with her, she doesn’t completely ignore Phoebe’s advances. Instead, Rosalind flirts with Phoebe and tells her where her house is. This is surprising because it contradicts her very words and suggests the homosexual nature of her character. We can never be sure if Rosalind/Ganymede prefers to be male or female as a result of the ambiguous sexuality she displays.
Phoebe herself is quickly becoming the inverse of a stereotypical female character. She quotes Marlowe’s Hero and Leander and writes poetry with Sylvius. It is, of course, the opposite, she, as a woman, should be bewitched by poetry, and not forced to write it herself. This reversal of her sexual identity further highlights the homoeroticism between Rosalind and Phoebe, which may underscore the plot.
Act four, scene one
Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, meets Jacques for the first time. He explains that he prefers to be melancholic because he has seen the world, and thinking about what he saw makes him sad. Rosalind tells him that she prefers a fool to amuse her rather than an experience (from travel) to make her sad. Orlando arrives and Rosalind says goodbye to Jacques.
Orlando approaches her and calls her Rosalind. She reproaches him for being an hour late and accuses him of not really being in love. Finally Rosalind tells Orlando that she is in good enough spirits to allow him to woo her. He tells her that he would rather kiss her than speak to her, but she asks Orlando what he will do if she refuses. He replies that he would die of love. Rosalind laughs at his naivete and tells him that no man has died of love since the earth was born.
Finally Orlando asks her if she will love him. Rosalind replies that she will and asks her sister Celia (still disguised as Alina) to pretend that she will marry them. Orlando takes her hand and they have a mock wedding ceremony. Rosalind then asks him how long he is going to love her. Orlando replies, "Forever and ever." Rosalind replies that "men - April, when they woo, December, when they marry." She then lectures Orlando on how women actually behave after marriage.
Orlando is forced to leave her and go to dinner with the duke, but promises to return after dinner. She warns him not to be late this time, otherwise she will consider him unworthy to call her Rosalind and pass her off as his beloved. After Orlando leaves, Celia tells Rosalind that she has slandered the entire female gender with the way she treats Orlando. Rosalind laughs and confesses that she is deeply in love with him, but cannot yet reveal who she is.
Act four, scene two
One of the duke’s lords has just killed a deer. Jacques, an opponent of the killing of animals (see second act), tells those present that they should present it to the duke. He then makes the lords sing a hunting song that says they wear antlers, the mark of a cuckold.
Act four, scene three
Rosalind is waiting for Orlando to meet him, but he is late again. Silvius arrives instead and hands her a letter that he says Phoebe wrote. He denies knowing what the letter says, other than that the tone of the letter is angry, but Rosalind does not believe him. Finally, she takes out the letter and reads it in front of Silvius. The letter is a love poem and does not reproach her in the least. Instead, Phoebe confesses her love to Rosalind. Silvius is shocked by the content of the letter. Rosalind, taking pity on him, sends him back to Phoebe with the message that Phoebe must love Sylvius, otherwise she (Rosalind) will never love Phoebe.
Oliver, Orlando’s older brother, appears and asks if the women can tell him how to get to Rosalind’s house. He is still looking for Orlando, whom Duke Frederick ordered him to bring back to court. He asks if they are the owners of the house, and Celia admits that they are. Oliver then hands Rosalind, whom he takes to be a man, the bloody handkerchief that Orlando asked him to hand over.
Oliver tells Rosalind that while he was sleeping in the woods, Orlando accidentally stumbled upon him sleeping under an oak tree. A large green snake was wrapped around Oliver’s neck and was about to enter his open mouth. When Orlando approached, she unhooked and crawled into the bushes. Under these bushes, a lioness was waiting, her udder dried up, and therefore she was very hungry. Orlando, seeing all this, approached his elder brother.
Orlando almost left his brother sleeping there, but instead decided to fight the lioness and kill her. Oliver was awakened by the noise of Orlando’s struggle and realized that his brother had saved his life. He immediately regretted trying to kill Orlando. Orlando took Oliver to the duke’s cave and made sure that his brother received hospitality. Then Orlando passed out from loss of blood, and Oliver had to bandage his brother’s hand. When Orlando regained consciousness, he asked Oliver to take the handkerchief to Rosalind and tell her the story. Rosalind faints as soon as Oliver hands her the handkerchief.
Celia calls Rosalind: "Ganymede, dear Ganymede!" until she comes to her senses. Oliver tells Rosalind that she doesn’t have a man’s heart. She admits this, but asks him to tell Orlando that she pretended to faint. Oliver says it was too real to be fake and advises her to pretend to be a man a little more. He eventually leaves her to return to Orlando and tell him how she reacted to the story.
One of the main problems of all the characters in As You Like It is that they need to have stable happy marriages. Rosalind points to this problem when she tells Orlando that "men are April when they woo, December when they marry." The problem of maintaining the passionate love of spouses for each other is crucially related to the ability to know in advance the merits and demerits of the other person. Thus, Rosalind is in no hurry to connect Orlando with Ganymede. This serves as a way to break his silence towards Rosalind. Rosalind not only gets rid of the silence, but also gets the opportunity to benefit from the excesses of other lovers, such as Sylvius and Phoebe. After seeing their romantic excesses, Rosalind will work to cure Orlando of the same problem.
Part of the main themes of the play is devoted to the danger and attractiveness of the feminine. This becomes clearer than ever when Orlando encounters Oliver with a snake woman about to enter his mouth. After frightening the snake, Orlando must fight the female lioness and shed his blood to defeat her. Only after the females are repulsed can Oliver and Orlando be reunited as brothers. Indeed, this whole scene may point to the real reason why Orlando was forced to flee Oliver’s house. It is likely that Oliver was jealous of Orlando, who is clearly stronger (this is evidenced by his strangulation of Oliver in the first act). This jealousy may be related to the issue of marriage, that is, Oliver was afraid that Orlando would be able to marry a representative of a higher social class and thereby gain superiority over his brother.
Fifth act, scene one
Touchstone and Audrey are still together. Audrey really wants to get married, and Touchstone promises that they will soon find someone who can perform the ceremony. He then asks her about another man who claims to be her. Before Audrey can speak, another man named William enters.
This is a polite man who is in love with Audrey. After a brief courtesy, Touchstone orders him to leave Audrey and let her marry him. He threatens to kill William if he tries to approach Audrey again. William leaves and Corinne arrives and tells them that Rosalind orders them to come to her.
Fifth act, scene two
Oliver falls in love with Celia at first sight. Orlando is amazed by this and asks his brother: “Can you really like her with such a small acquaintance?” Oliver is so excited that he even promises to give Orlando his entire fortune so that he can stay in the village with Celia (whom he thinks is Alina). Oliver further announces that he plans to get married the next day.
Orlando agrees to the marriage, but feels heavy at heart because he misses Rosalind. She arrives, still pretending to be Ganymede, and Oliver leaves to let his brother talk to her. They both comment on how quickly Celia and Oliver fell in love, but Orlando says, "How bitter it is to look at happiness through the eyes of another person." He complains that despite his brother’s happiness, he will be depressed the next day during the wedding because he wants to be with Rosalind. Rosalind asks him, "I won’t be able to serve your turn for Rosalind tomorrow?" At the turning point of the play, Orlando tells her, "I can’t live thinking anymore."
Rosalind tells Orlando that she can do seemingly magical things. She promises that if he agrees, she will arrange so that he can marry Rosalind the next day at the same time that Oliver and Celia are getting married.
Silvius and Phoebe arrive together. Phoebe is still in love with Ganymede (Rosalind) and Sylvius is still in love with Phoebe. Rosalind advises Phoebe to look at Sylvius and love him. Phoebe turns to Sylvia and asks him to tell Rosalind about what love is. He replies: "It consists of sighs and tears." All lovers agree with him, naming the person they love. Finally, Rosalind gets tired of the nonsense surrounding her and emotional overkill. She addresses each of them and orders them to come tomorrow, promising that she will see to it that they are all married.
Act five, scene three
Touchstone and Audrey talk about how wonderful the next day they will get married will be. The elder duke’s two pages arrive and Touchstone asks them to sing a song for him. They sing, after which he gets up and says that he wasted his time listening to such a stupid song.
Act five, scene four
Duke Senior is gathering with all his men, Orlando, Oliver and Celia. The Duke asks Orlando if he believes Ganymede can do everything he promised. Orlando tells him that he can only hope it’s true.
Rosalind arrives with Phoebe and Sylvius. She asks the Duke if he will agree to give his daughter Rosalind in marriage to Orlando if she can get Rosalind to show up. He agrees. Orlando also agrees to marry Rosalind if she shows up. Phoebe, meanwhile, promised that she would marry Ganymede, but if she refuses to marry Ganymede, she will take Sylvius as her husband. Rosalind and Celia then disappear to change their appearance.
Touchstone and Audrey arrive, and Jacques remarks, "Surely another flood is coming, and these couples are going to the ark." Touchstone then talks about proper duel etiquette. He pokes fun at the procedures, naming seven degrees of lying before the duel is to take place. Touchstone ends his speech by explaining how using the word "if" can resolve all disputes.
As soon as Touchstone has finished, Hymen, the god of marriage, enters, accompanied by Rosalind and Celius. The hymen rhymes each line and makes all four pairs connect. They all get married right away.
Jacques de Bois, Orlando and Oliver’s middle brother, appears to inform them that Duke Frederick has raised an army and is about to gather all the men in the forest. However, on the way there, he met a religious man and converted. Duke Frederick laid down his crown and returned it to the elder duke, deciding instead to retire to a monastery. The melancholy Jacques decides to leave the forest and spend time with the newly converted duke. Orlando becomes heir to the entire duchy by marriage to Rosalind.
Fifth act, epilogue
Rosalind performs the Epilogue and tells the audience that she hopes they enjoyed the play. She then refers to "if (she) were a woman" she would kiss the men present. This reference to a man playing her part is unusual. Rosalind ends the play with a curtsy and says goodbye to the audience.
The cruelty of the court, transferred to the countryside, becomes evident again in the final act. Touchstone sends William away from Audrey and threatens his life. This is an inversion of the stereotype that cruelty comes from the village, and not vice versa. William is even overly polite despite Touchstone’s threats against him, undermining the need for those threats in the first place.
The real turning point for Orlando and Rosalind is when Oliver and Celia fall in love. The reason is that Celia leaves Rosalind and turns her attention to Oliver. Love at first sight of Oliver and Celia even makes Orlando exclaim: "How bitter it is to look at happiness through the eyes of another person." Rosalind asks him: "Tomorrow I won’t be able to serve your turn for Rosalind?". Orlando tells her, "I can no longer live thinking." This last sentence marks a real turning point. Orlando can no longer live in thoughts, imagining that Ganymede is his Rosalind. He is ready to marry the real Rosalind and therefore refuses to play the game with Ganymede. Realizing this, Rosalind immediately promises to arrange for Orlando to marry her the next day.
One of the most unusual scenes is when Sylvius, Phoebe and Orlando tell Rosalind about what it’s like to be in love. Silvius describes it like this: "It consists of sighs and tears." This is again excessive love, which Rosalind avoids, she is too wise for such excesses. However, Orlando has not yet gone this way. He willingly imitates the other two, inserting Rosalind’s name after each phrase. Eventually Rosalind gets fed up with the whole spectacle and orders them to stop it.
At the very end, Shakespeare ridicules the institution of marriage. He introduces the character of Hymen, the god of marriage, into what has become the four marriages. Only Jacques seems to understand how ridiculous and pathetic this is: “Surely another flood is coming soon, and these couples are going to the ark.” He sees the scene for what it is, a ceremony in which the characters are driven two by two into the ark of marriage.
A strong theme that emerges at the end is the language of desire. In fact, this theme has always been present, but never to such a blatant degree. The very title of the play, As You Like It, speaks of an act of desire. Touchstone is a character who makes this clear in his speech about lies and duels. He points to many uses of "if" to avoid a duel, stating that "Your "if" is the only peacekeeper." "If" represents the possibilities inherent in each situation: "If I bring… you will bestow", "Will you marry me if I want?", "You will have Phoebe if she wants." Each of these "ifs" points to a different possible outcome of the play, to a different path than the one ultimately chosen.
The epilogue is unique in that it is performed by Rosalind in women’s clothing. This makes As You Like It the only known Elizabethan play where a woman ends the play. Thus, Rosalind changes from woman to man and reappears as Rosalind at her wedding. However, to further confuse the plot, Shakespeare forces her to point out the fact that she is just a man playing a female role: "If I were a woman." This breakdown of sexual boundaries leads viewers to confront their own sexuality and question whether it is as absolute as it is commonly believed.
As usual in a Shakespearean comedy, there are excluded characters at the end, namely Jacques and Adam. However, this ending is inclusive. Rosalind mentions all the men and women present, thus breaking down the barrier between the stage and the audience. If at first the play excluded Jacques, Adam and Orlando’s father, now they are all included in it again. This serves to draw the audience even more into the play and make the themes present a part of everyday life rather than an anomaly seen on stage.
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