As You Like It

As You Like It In William Shakespeare’s comedy “as you like it,” the themes of love, power, confusion, and betrayal as explored. The author’s skillful use of dialogue combine with dramatic presentation to create a play that is both entertaining and thought provoking. The play begins with Orlando, who is one of the three sons of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, lamenting his inferior status in the family. “The spirit.. which was within me,” he exclaims,”begins to mutiny against this servitude. I will no longer endure it, though yet i know no wise remedy how to avoid it.” Thus early on, we are able to glimpse the intense conflict that this character suffers both with his family and with himself.

The story then shifts to introduce the other main character, Rosalind, an outspoken and affecting young woman. Charles arrives to inform her that her father (the rightful duke) and his band of faithful follers have been banished by Frederick into the Forest of Arden. She becomes quite distressed, and her intense emotional nature is revealed to the audience. As her cousin Celia attempts to console her, we also become aware of the deep bond of support and friendship between these women that will continue to be a central aspect of the story. Although Oliver pretends to be concerned for Orlando’s well being, he has secretly been plotting to have his brother killed (or at least maimed) in a wrestling match. Such behaviour establishes him early on as a villainous, greedy character. Surprisingly, however, Orlando displays incredible fighting prowess and emerges victorious as the women cheer him on.

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Flustered, Rosalind approaches to offer her congratulations and it is love at first sight. Notably, this seems to be the first point in the play in which Orlando seems happy. However, many strange and amusing events are to transpire before they can be together. Following the wrestling match and her meeting Orlando, the giddy Rosalind is seemingly consumed with excitement over the object of her affection. This unparalleled happiness is cut short, however, when she and Celia learn that Frederick (for no apparent reason) suspects that Rosalind is plotting against him and has decided that she, too, must be banished. Late at night, Celia and Rosalind leave the palace together disguised to journey into the Forest of Arden. Rosalind is dressed as a man, and takes upon herself the name “Ganymede;” Celia has become “Aliena.” With the court jester (Touchstone) to accompany them, they go into exile.

Meanwhile, Orlando has returned home and is warned by Adam, the family servant, that Oliver is plotting to kill him. Fearful, they too decide to set out for the comparative safety of the Forest of Arden. In the Forest, Orlando and Adam join Rosalinds exiled father and his men. It is important to note Orlandos care and concern for the aging servant; such benevolence makes him identifiable as one of the heroic characters of the story. In the Forest, Rosalind and Celia purchase a cottage and begin living a simple, “pastoral” existence.

To her joy and amazement, however, Rosalind one day comes upon a part of the forest in which the trees are plastered with love poetry–all dedicated to her! “But Heavenly Rosalind!” he exclaims, “That gaze kept, and shall keep me to the end her own! ” It becomes apparent that Orlando, too, is lovesick. Presumably, however, Orlando believes that Ganymede (Rosalind) is indeed a man. Reluctant to reveal her true identity, Ganymede (Rosalind) devises other ways to get close to Orlando. She offers to let Orlando pretend to woo her (Ganymede) with the idea that he will soon grow weary of it and be cured of his lovesickness. Unable to forget about Rosalind, however, Orlando soon gives up trying.

During this scene, the”sparks” between the two characters are very visible; one may wonder if Orlando is really fooled by Rosalinds charade. The plot becomes even more complex when we learn that the sheperdess Phebe, who is being pursued by Silvius, has fallen in love with Ganymede! Phebes cold and distant treatment of Silvius offers a sharp contrast to the nobleness exhibited by other characters in the play. In the midst of all the confusion, Oliver arrives in the Forest of Arden and tells Ganymede of how he has escaped death, thanks to his younger brother. This tale of heroism causes Ganymede (Rosalind) to become even more infatuated with Orlando (were that possible). Later in the Forest, Oliver meets Celia and they fall instantly in love.

Touchstone, the witty jester, has met a simple-minded goat herder named Audrey . Although he realizes how different they are, Touchstone falls in love with Audrey anyway. Duke Frederick, meanwhile, is worried about the growing alliance that has built up in the Forest of Arden of which so many of his men are a part. Deciding to put a forceful stop to it, he journeys into the forest but is met by an old religious hermit and miraculously converted. As we see later in the play, such an event is instrumental in the play having a happy ending.

As confusion builds in the forest and Phebe pursues Ganymede with ever-greater fervor, Ganymede (Rosalind) offers to solve the problems by “magic.” Shedding her male identity in private, she returns as Rosalind and the play is brought to a swift conclusion with four marriages. Phebe realizes that she cant have “Ganymede,” and consents to marry Silvius. Oliver and Celia also get married, as do Touchstone and Audrey. Perhaps most notably, Orlando and Rosalind are finally able to be together and openly declare their affection. The rightful duke (Rosalinds father) is overjoyed at being able to see his daughter and her newfound happiness.

Frederick arrives to restore the dukes rightful status and possessions, and the characters presumably live happily ever after.


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