As You Like It begins with Orlando, the youngest son of Roland de Bois, brother of the eldest son and recipient of their father’s inheritance, complaining to his attendant named Adam. Orlando is angry about being left only a thousand crowns (25,000 British pounds) and the promise of a good education provided by his brother Oliver, the second part of which is not being fulfilled. Their other brother, Jaques, is receiving a good education but Oliver is forced to stay in the country. He goes as far to say that Oliver’s horses are treated and trained much better than even he is. Oliver then enters the scene where he asks what he is doing to which Orlando responds he has never been taught to do anything. Oliver acts insulted by what Orlando says. Orlando even acknowledges his older brother’s birthright but asserts that he, himself, is also noble by birth. Oliver hits Orlando who then grabs onto his older brother. Oliver accusingly call his brother a villain. Adam intervenes saying for the sake of their father’s memory, they should make peace. Orlando reminds his brother of his responsibility to provide an education for him as their father intended and demands that he have this education or his part of the inheritance to leave. Orlando exits the scene and Oliver proceeds to order the same for their family’s loyal servant, Adam.
Oliver has his attendant find Charles the wrestler to speak with him. Charles informs him that the old Duke Senior has been banished by his younger brother, the new Duke Frederick. Some loyal lords have followed him into exile, giving up their lands and money to Frederick. They relocated to the Forest of Arden, living like Robin Hood once did. However, Duke Senior’s daughter Rosalind has reminded at the court with her dear cousin Celia, the daughter of Duke Frederick.
Charles goes on to warn Oliver that Orlando is planning to compete in a fight against him. Charles fears Orlando will consequently be injured due to his inexperience. Oliver says he will try to convince his brother otherwise and promises to reward Charles for telling him of this. After Charles exits, Oliver tells how he plans to get his brother worked up to fight because of his hatred for him.
A lot of implications are made when Charles relays “They say he is already in the Forest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England. They say many young gentlemen flock to him every day and fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world” (1.1.100-104). Comparing a character and his lifestyle to Robin Hood carries a lot of weight. Robin Hood’s notoriety was well known by the audience then as it is now. Without having finished reading the play, I am placing a lot of valor on the shoulders of Duke Senior as Robin Hood was renowned as a hero. In the original folklore, Robin Hood was a supporter of King Richard the Lionheart who was banished by his brother John. This is similar to how Duke Frederick exiled his own brother, Duke Senior, loyal lords following. This comparison to Robin Hood, is likely to foreshadow Duke Senior completing some ploy to undermine those in power, some way or another, to a greater extent than living with others of the resistance in the woods.
Act one scene two is an incredibly dense section that essentially sets the stage for the remaining plots of the play. In this scene we see Rosalind and Celia display their adoration for each other as they vow to remain true to one another, and Celia swears that when her father Duke Fredrick passes on she will give the throne back to Rosalind. Despite her grief over her father Duke Senior Rosalind is cheered by Celia’s promise and vows to be more content despite her sorrow. To distract themselves the girls begin to debate the essence of Fortune and Nature and how they determine women’s lives. Both seem to favor Nature over fortune. A wrestling match is held within the castle and it is here that Rosalind meets Orlando and they become smitten with one another. However true love is deterred when after winning the wrestling match against Charles, Orlando announces that he is the son of Sir Rowland one of Duke Fredrick’s enemies. Duke Fredrick refuses to congratulate him and very shortly after Orlando decides he must flee from the duke.
This sets up not only one of the main romantic plots of the play but it also demonstrates the very deep bond Rosalind and Celia share which spurs many characters actions in this play. It is also interesting how well a female friendship is displayed here. In most Shakespearean plays the main females often only have deep meaningful relationships with their male counterparts. Even in the twelfth night the main interaction Oliva and Viola have with one another is when Viola is dressed as Cesario and Olivia falls in love with her. Here Celia and Rosalind display a deep true love that only the best of sisters have. Their relationship is also one of the most integral facets of the play which I enjoy very much. The line that I feel seems to capture this essence is this quote from Celia and Rosalind when discussing Fortune and Nature. “CELIA Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from//her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally.
ROSALIND: I would we could do so, for her benefits are/mightily misplaced, and the bountiful blind woman/doth most mistake in her gifts to women.”I essentially feel that this quote kind of displays that while these women have high statutes in the world and are otherwise fair and beautiful, both are rather powerless in how their lives are led. Rosalind has been disinherited by the banishment of her father and Celia must choose between her beloved cousin and father, as he sets out to take away everything that was his brothers. Both are at the mercy of fate at the moment but it doesn’t take them long to take control of their own nature and destinies.
Scene 1.3 demonstrates the strong relationship between Rosalind and her cousin Celia. Rosalind, embarrassed and upset that Orlando had no reply to the gift of her chain, is unusually quiet. Celia insists that Rosalind tell her what is the matter, and asks if she is sad about her usurped and exiled father. Rosalind replies that her dejected state is not for her father, but for the man she would have as her child’s father, and compares her feelings for him to burrs stuck in her heart, which she cannot shake away. Celia encourages Rosalind to reign in her emotions, and asks whether it is possible for her to have fallen in love with Orlando so suddenly. Rosalind explains that her own father dearly loved Orlando’s father, but Celia refutes this explanation—her father hated Orlando’s father, but that is not reason for her to hate Orlando. Rosalind implores Celia not to hate Orlando, but to love him for her sake. Duke Frederick, Celia’s father and Rosalind’s uncle, interrupts and demands that Rosalind leave the court as quickly as possible. He warns her that after ten days, if she is found within twenty miles, she will die for it. Rosalind asks her uncle what crime she has committed, as she’s never so much as had a thought which might have offended him. Duke Frederick replies that all traitors proclaim their innocence, and that he simply does not trust her, and that is all the reason he needs. Rosalind persists, saying that his mistrust does not make her a traitor, and asks again of what she is accused. Duke Frederick replies that it is because she is her father’s daughter. Rosalind says that treason is not inherited, and even if it were, her father was not a traitor. When Celia tries to protest, Duke Frederick hushes her and says that it was only for her sake that Rosalind was not exiled with her father. Celia says that isn’t true, that she did not ask that Rosalind stay; it was out of guilt that he kept her at court. She says that if Rosalind is a traitor, then so is she. They have grown up together and are inseparable. Duke Frederick remains unmoved, however, calling Celia a fool and claiming that Rosalind is stealing attention from her. Celia tells her father to banish her, too, as she cannot live without Rosalind. Again her father calls her a fool, and he leaves, warning Rosalind that she must leave before her time is up, or face death. Celia swears to Rosalind that she will go with her, and suggests that they escape to the Forest of Arden to find her uncle, Rosalind’s father. Rosalind worries for their safety, so Celia suggests disguising themselves in dirty, plain clothes to avoid attracting attention. Rosalind decides that because she is so tall, it would be better for her to dress as a man. She decides that she will be called Ganymede, and Celia decides that she will be called Aliena. Rosalind suggests taking the court fool along with them, and Celia agrees to convince him to come, and they resolve to collect their things and go.
In lines 48-50 of this scene, Duke Frederick rejects Rosalind’s claim of innocence, saying “If their purgation did consist in words,/They are as innocent as grace itself./Let it suffice thee that I trust thee not.” He says that all traitors proclaim their innocence, and if they could purge themselves of their sins merely by their words, they would be wholly pure. Because words alone cannot cleanse someone of his guilt, he does not trust Rosalind or her profession of innocence. This is a haughty remark coming from a man who betrayed his own brother and usurped his position. It would seem as though Frederick is projecting some of his own guilt onto his niece; no matter how much he might proclaim his own innocence, the betrayal of his brother still weighs on him.
Abbey 2.1 and 2.2
Scene one opens with Duke Senior, who we know has been exiled by his younger brother. This scene takes place in the forest and is between Duke Senior, Amiens, the First Lord, and the Second Lord. Duke Senior opens the scene by talking about the forest. He is actually rather happy to be in the forest. He says the forest is freeing, there is no envious court, life is pretty sweet. There is no danger in the forest and says their only worry is the cold winter wind. He says the forest provides everything they could ever need. He end ends his talking by saying he wouldn't change a thing. Amiens then agrees with him talking about how quiet and sweet their new life is. Duke Senior then suggests they go hunt some venison, but there is a sadness behind it. He is mourning the death of the deer. The First Lord seems to be comparing him (Duke Senior) to the deer, his fortune has not been so great. He claims that Lord Jaques agrees with him. Declaring that Senior is guiltier of taking someones power by killing this poor deer, then his brother his for exiling him. This seems a little extreme. This however doesn’t seem to get Duke Senior down. He requests that Jacque is brought to him for he enjoys arguing with him. The First Lord says he shall go get him.
Scene two starts a little different. We are back in the court with Duke Frederick, which is Duke Senior’s little brother that exiled him. This is a brief scene, only 21 lines. This scene is really about Duke Frederick discovering that Rosalind is gone, but Celia, and Touchstone also seem to be missing with her. The First Lord is claiming no one saw them leave. Lord Frederick is questioning how they could disappear without anyone seeing them. The Second Lord comes in an states that it was overheard that Celia and Rosalind were in favor of Orlando. The Second Lord then says that where Celia and Rosalind are is probably where Orlando is as well. Duke Frederick then asks that someone fetches Oliver for he is going to send Oliver to search for his brother, Celia, and Rosalind.
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head (2.1.12-14)
I chose this set of lines because I feel like this is actually a really good quote. While there are great uses to adversity, which seems horrible like a toad, it is still a great thing.
Zeke 2.3 and 2.4
Orlando returns home after winning the fight against Charles, the wrestler. His servant, Adam, greets him and comments on his recent victory. Despite the good news, Adam is concerned that his good qualities will be his undoing and tells Orlando that he recently overheard Oliver plotting to burn him alive as he slept. Orlando is unsure where he should go if he leaves his home and wonders if he is expected to beg for food or become a thief. Adam offers to fund the trip with the five hundred crowns he has saved over the course of his life. Not all does he do this, but Adam also asks to go with him and continue on as a servant. After a bit of convincing, Orlando agrees and compliments Adam’s sense of duty. The scene ends with Adam proclaiming:
Master, go on, and I will follow thee,
To the last gasp, with truth and loyalty.…
Yet fortune cannot recompense me better
Than to die well and not my master’s debtor.
(As You Like It 2.3.69-76)
This passage is an important one because honor is an important theme throughout the play. Characters take this belief very seriously and those that lack the quality appear to lash out at those that do. This may explain why by the play’s end, even Oliver and Duke Frederick have changed their ways and embraced sanctimonious lifestyles.Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone arrive in the Forest of Ardenne. In order to remain safe on their journey, the woman have disguised themselves with dress. Rosalind dresses like a young man and goes by the name of Ganymede while Celia dresses as a shepherdess and uses the name Aliena. Exhausted from their travels, they decide to rest but soon cross paths with Corin and Silvius. Wrapped up in discussing Silvius’ love for Phoebe, the two men do not notice the three people resting nearby. Though Corin says he knows about love, Silvius doubts that he has ever loved as deeply as he does for Phoebe. At this point, Silvius exits and Corin is asked about a nearby location for them to find food and rest. Corin explains that his master’s house is for sale and offers to take them there to check it out.