"Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once". Shakespeare & "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies". Aristotle

As You Like It

As You Like It

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle's court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and eventually love in the Forest of Arden. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works and some finding the play a work of great merit.
The play features one of Shakespeare's most famous and oft-quoted speeches, "All the world's a stage", and is the origin of the phrase "too much of a good thing". The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre.

The play is set in a duchy in France, but most of the action takes place in a location called the Forest of Arden, which may be intended for the Ardennes in France, but is sometimes identified with Arden, Warwickshire, near Shakespeare's home town.
Frederick has usurped the Duchy and exiled his older brother, Duke Senior. The Duke's daughter Rosalind has been permitted to remain at court because she is the closest friend and cousin of Frederick's only child, Celia. Orlando, a young gentleman of the kingdom who has fallen in love at first sight with Rosalind, is forced to flee his home after being persecuted by his older brother, Oliver. Frederick becomes angry and banishes Rosalind from court. Celia and Rosalind decide to flee together accompanied by the jester Touchstone, with Rosalind disguised as a young man and Celia disguised as a poor lady.
Rosalind, now disguised as Ganymede ("Jove's own page"), and Celia, now disguised as Aliena (Latin for "stranger"), arrive in the Arcadian Forest of Arden, where the exiled Duke now lives with some supporters, including "the melancholy Jaques," a malcontent figure, who is introduced to us weeping over the slaughter of a deer. "Ganymede" and "Aliena" do not immediately encounter the Duke and his companions, as they meet up with Corin, an impoverished tenant, and offer to buy his master's rude cottage.

Orlando and his servant Adam (a role possibly played by Shakespeare himself, though this story is said to be apocryphal)meanwhile, find the Duke and his men and are soon living with them and posting simplistic love poems for Rosalind on the trees. Rosalind, also in love with Orlando, meets him as Ganymede and pretends to counsel him to cure him of being in love. Ganymede says "he" will take Rosalind's place and "he" and Orlando can act out their relationship.
The shepherdess Phebe, with whom Silvius is in love, has fallen in love with Ganymede (actually Rosalind), though "Ganymede" continually shows that "he" is not interested in Phebe. Touchstone, meanwhile, has fallen in love with the dull-witted shepherdess Audrey, and tries to woo her, but eventually is forced to be married first. William, another shepherd, attempts to marry Audrey as well, but is stopped by Touchstone, who threatens to kill him "a hundred and fifty ways".
Finally, Silvius, Phebe, Ganymede, and Orlando are brought together in an argument with each other over who will get whom. Ganymede says he will solve the problem, having Orlando promise to marry Rosalind, and Phebe promise to marry Silvius if she cannot marry Ganymede.
Orlando sees Oliver in the forest and rescues him from a lioness, causing Oliver to repent for mistreating Orlando. Oliver meets Aliena (Celia's false identity) and falls in love with her, and they agree to marry. Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Silvius and Phebe, and Touchstone and Audrey all are married in the final scene, after which they discover that Frederick has also repented his faults, deciding to restore his legitimate brother to the dukedom and adopt a religious life. Jaques, ever melancholy, declines their invitation to return to the court preferring to stay in the forest and to adopt a religious life as well. Rosalind speaks an epilogue to the audience, commending the play to both men and women in the audience.



Love is the central theme of As You Like It, like other romantic comedies of Shakespeare. Following the tradition of a romantic comedy, As You Like It is a tale of love manifested in its varied forms. In many of the love-stories, it is love at first sight. This principle of 'love at first sight' is seen in the love-stories of Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, as well as Phebe and Ganymede. The love-story of Audrey and Touchstone is a parody of romantic love. Another form of love is between women, as in Rosalind and Celia's deep bond.

Usurpation and Injustice

This is a significant theme of this play. Frederick usurps the legitimate place of his elder brother Duke Senior and forces him to flee for his life. Oliver de Bois usurps the rights of his younger brother Orlando and treats him so ungenerously as to compel him to seek his fortune elsewhere. Both outcasts take refuge in the forest, where justice is restored "through nature"


The play highlights the theme of usurpation and injustice on the property of others. However, it ends happily with reconciliation and forgiveness. Duke Frederick is converted by a hermit and he restores the dukedom to Duke Senior who, in his turn, restores the forest to the deer. Oliver also undergoes a change of heart and learns to love Orlando. Thus, the play ends on a note of rejoicing and merry-making.

Court life and country life

Most of the play is a celebration of life in the country. The inhabitants of Duke Frederick's court suffer the perils of arbitrary injustice and even threats of death; the courtiers who followed the old duke into forced exile in the "desert city" of the forest are, by contrast, experiencing liberty but at the expense of some easily borne discomfort. (Act II, scene 1). A passage between Touchstone, the court jester, and shepherd Corin establishes the contentment to be found in country life, compared with the perfumed, mannered life at court. (Act III, scene 2). At the end of the play the usurping duke and the exiled courtier Jacques both elect to remain within the forest.

Pastoral literature primarily establishes a contrast between life in the city and life in the country, and suggests that the intense concerns of court life can be rectified by a brief foray into nature. The neat and convenient division between town and country allows characters the distance required to contemplate, criticize, and reform city life. As You Like It certainly acknowledges this convention: urban life, as governed by the likes of Duke Frederick and Oliver, is plagued with injustices, and the Forest of Ardenne allows Duke Senior, Rosalind, Orlando, and the rest not only to escape oppression but to build the foundation of a more loving and just society. But Shakespeare does not content himself with criticizing the court and romanticizing the country. Instead, he trains a careful—and comic—eye on the entire pastoral tradition. Although Shakespeare’s urban sophisticates find solace in Ardenne and manage to heal the wounds inflicted on them by vengeful dukes and unfair customs, the green world they encounter is not a paradise, peopled as it is with the likes of Silvius and Audrey. The former is blinded by love, the latter by her own dim wits, and neither is insightful enough to lead the exiles toward a completely redeemed life.

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