1.2 AS YOU LIKE IT

As You Like It, written by William Shakespeare, was entered on a preliminary leaf of Book C of the stationer’s Register on August 4, 1600, but it was not printed until 1623 in the First Folio. A fairly reliable text, it was based probably on a playhouse promptbook or a literary transcript of the playwright’s foul papers. Since Francis Meres did not include this play in his 1598 list of Shakespeare’s works, it may be assumed that Shakespeare had not yet written it. Shakespeare’s use of Thomas Morley‘s song, “It was a lover and his lass“, printed in Morley’s First Book of Airs in 1600 but prepared in 1599, may also justify 1599-1600 as a likely date for composition. Pastoral plays, stories, and poems had become extremely popular by the late 1590s, and Shakespeare may have composed As You Like It for the Chamberlain’s Men to compete with other professional companies for a share of the audience. Most modern critics and editors place As You Like It chronologically between Much Ado about Nothing and Twelfth Night.

So, dated from 1600, it is essential to understand the topic of this paper to have a look at the social position of women during the Elizabethan time. After that, I will talk about Rosalind (the major character in this play) and then it is important to know several opinions from different writers and critics.

First of all I would like to provide you with the Folio version of the play (1623) and with the modernised version. Anyway, I have provided for you a summary of the play.

 

PLOT SUMMARY

1.1 In the garden of Oliver’s manor house, Orlando complains to his old servant, Adam, that Oliver, his elder brother, has abused him by not educating him and by not honoring their late father’s wishes. When Oliver enters, Orlando insists that his brother give him his patrimony. Rudely dismissing Orlando, Oliver speaks to Charles, a wrestler. Charles shares him the old news that Duke Frederick has forced Duke Senior to go into exile in the forest of Arden but has kept Duke Senior’s daughter, Rosalind, at court for the sake of her companionship with his own daughter, Celia. Oliver speaks ill of Orlando and asks Charles to kill him in the wrestling match the next day. As Charles leaves, Oliver enviously broods over his brother’s popularity and noble qualities.

1.2 On the lawn before the Duke’s place, Celia tries to cheer up Rosalind. They exchange pleasantries with Touchstone, a jester. Then the courtier Le Beau informs them of the wrestling match. Duke Frederick and his courtiers enter to watch the match, while Celia and Rosalind urge Orlando to withdraw from the fight. Applauded by Rosalind and Celia, Orlando defeats Charles. Upon learning the identity of Orlando’s father, who supported the previous duke, Frederick grows annoyed and leaves the scene without giving him a reward. Celia and Rosalind congratulate Orlando, and Rosalind offers her necklace to him as a prize. Orlando is too shy to respond to her gesture. Le Beau advises Orlando to leave the court to save himself from Frederick’s wrath.

1.3 Rosalind shares Celia the secret of her love for Orlando. Duke Frederick orders Rosalind into exile. Celia suggests that they escape to the forest of Arden together in disguise. The taller Rosalind dresses as a man and gives herself the name of Ganymede. Celia changes her name to Aliena. They beseech Touchstone to join them on their journey.

2.1 In the forest of Arden, Duke Senior talks to his lords, dressed like foresters, about the moral principles which have helped him to accept the discomforts of their pastoral suroundings. They go in search of Jacques, who had been weeping and commenting on the fate of a wounded deer.

2.2 Duke Frederick questions his courtiers about the missing Celia and seeks Oliver’s assistance in finding her.

2.3 Adam advises Orlando to slip away from his brutal brother and volunteers to go with him as his servant.

2.4 In the forest of Arden, Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone happen upon young Silvius, who is telling old Corin about his Silviu’s love for Phebe. Rosalind learns from Corin that his master’s property is for sale. The two cousins decide to buy it.

2.5 Amiens sings, “Under the greenwood tree” to Jacques and others (2.5.1-8). Jacques replies with satirical verses of his own.

2.6 Adam is hungry. Orlando leaves him in a shelter and goes in search of food for him.

2.7 Dressed like outlaws, Duke Senior and his lords have a table set for dinner. Jacques comes in and reports on his meeting with Touchstone. Orlando barges in, his sword drawn, and demands food. Duke Senior courteously invites Orlando to join in the meal. Orlando thanks Duke Senior but leaves so that he can fetch Adam. After Orlando leaves, Duke Senior observes that he and his men are not the only unfortunates in the world.

This comment provides the occasion for Jacques to deliver his “All the world’s a stage” speech (2.7.139-166). Orlando and Adam return and eat. Amiens entertains the group by singing, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind (2.7.174ff). Duke Senior explains that he loved Orlando’s late father and welcomes Orlando to the forest.

3.1 Frederick forces Oliver to go in search of Orlando and has seized Oliver’s property until Orlando is found.

3.2 Orlando hangs a poem on a tree in witness of his love for Rosalind and plans to hang many more verses throughout the forest. Corin and Touchstone argue about the merits of country versus court life. Rosalind as Ganymeded enters, reading verses in her own praise, and Touchstone ridicules her with a parody of his own. Alone with Rosalind, Celia reveals that Orlando the versifier is in the forest. Rosalind and Celia observe Orlando and Jacques as the latter mocks the earnest lover. The disguised Rosalind queries Orlando about his poems and offers to cure him of his malady of love by pretending to be a temperamental Rosalind.

3.3 Jacques convinces Touchstone to delay his marriage with Audrey, an ignorant goatherd, on the ground that he should have a more reliable priest than Sir Oliver Martext.

3.4 Rosalind is furious that Orlando is late for his meeting with her. Celia teases her that she should not trust Orlando. Corin leads Celia and Rosalind to watch Silvius trying to woo a scornful Phebe.

3.5 Phebe spurns Silvius. Agitated over Phebe’s disdain for the man who lover her, Rosalind comes forward and reminds Phebe how ungrateful she is. Phebe immediately falls in love with “Ganymede” and asks Silvius to deliver a letter to the youth. She says that the letter will taunt Ganymede, but in fact she sends a love poem.

4.1 Rosalind gently mocks Jacques’ melancholy. Jacques leaves upon Orlando’s entry. Rosalind takes Orlando to task for his late arrival. She dismisses his wornout, conventional language of love and makes him aware of the awful reality of husband-wife relationships. Celia consents to act as a priest for Rosalind’s mock marriage. Rosalind gets Orlando to agree to meet her on time the next day. Then she confides in Celia the sincerity of her love for Orlando.

4.2 Jacques and some of the Duke’s lords dressed as foresters sing, “What shall he have that killed the deer?” (4.2.10-18).

4.3 Orlando is late again for his appointment with Ganymede. Rosalind and Celia get Phebe’s letter from Silvius. Rosalind reads it aloud and then sends the youth back to Phebe with the message, “If she love me, I charge her to love thee; if she will not, I will never have her unless thou entreat for her.” (4.3.71-73).

Oliver enters with a bloody cloth in his hands and recognizes Ganymede from Orlando’s description. He tells the two cousins that Orlando found him asleep in the forest and a lioness crouched to attack him. Orlando disregarded his hatred for his brother and killed the beast. The lion wounded Orlando’s arm in the struggle. When Oliver awoke, he underwent an instant conversion from his hateful ways and became friends with Orlando. Orlando had lost blood during the encounter and fainted, but he has joined Duke Senior and sent Oliver with a bloody cloth to Ganymede to account for his absence. When she sees blood, Rosalind faints and so almost ruins her disguise. However, she quickly recovers and claims that her swoon was “Counterfeit, I assure you” (4.3.172).

5.1 Touchstone assures Audrey that they will marry. William, in love with Audrey, enters, but Touchstone warns him to “abandon the society of this female, or, clown, thou perishest” (5.1.50-51). William departs, and Corin enters to summon Touchstone and Audrey to join Rosalind and Celia.

5.2 Oliver has fallen in love with Celia/Aliena after their brief acquaintance, and he wants to marry her right away. He assures Orlando that he will bestow his estate upon his younger brother, since Oliver is resolved to live and die a shepherd in the forest. Orlando agrees with Oliver’s plans and suggests that the marriage take place in the presence of Duke Senior and his lords. Entering after Oliver has departed, Rosalind informs Orlando that he can marry his Rosalind at the same hour that his brother weds Celia. She will use her magic to produce Rosalind for the ceremony. When she meets Phebe and Silvius, Rosalind announces that if she decides to marry a woman, she will choose Phebe. She promises Silvius that he will also get married. Rosalind advises Orlando, silvius and Phebe to come to her the next day properly dressed for their weddings.

5.3 Touchstone and Audrey enter discussing their impending marriage, apparently also arranged by Rosalind. Two pages come in and sing for them “It was a lover and his lass” (5.3.16-33).

5.4 In the presence of Duke Senior, Amiens, Jacques, Orlando and Oliver, Rosalind as Ganymede has everybody agree to her plan. Duke Senior will give Rosalind to Orlando if she be found and brought in, and Orlando will marry her. Phebe will marry Ganymede, but if Phebe refuses “him”, she’ll marry Silvius, who promises to wed Phebe “Though to have her and death were both one thing” (5.4.17). Rosalind and Celia then depart. Touchstone and Audrey enter, and Jacques rouses Touchstone to entertain the group with his account of  ” a lie seven times remov’d” (5.4.68). This conversation provides some entertaining wit and allows Rosalind time to change back from Ganymede to herself.

Guided by Hymen, the god of marriage, Rosalind and Celia now appear in their own persons. Rosalind is united with her father and weds Orlando. Phebe abandons her claim to “Ganymede”. Hymen gives his blessing to the four couples and sings “Wedding is great Juno’s crown” (5.4.141-146). Jacques de Bois, Sir Rowland’s second son and hence brother to Orlando and Oliver, brings news that Duke Frederick had gathered an army to arrest and kill Duke Senior, but in the vicinity of the forest the usurper met an old hermit, who converted him. Jacques delivers a benediction for the couples but will not attend the celebration. Instead, he will join the company of Duke Frederick and the other religious converts. Duke Senior invites everyone else to join in a dance.

Epilogue. Rosalind cleverly begs for the spectator’s approval.



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