Shakespeare Videos: Complete List Shakespeare
Study Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...© 2003
2010, 2011 ©
Type of Work
.......As You Like It
is a stage play in the form of a comedy. Its rural locale and subject
matter also qualify it as a pastoral romance. Pastoral means
having to do with shepherds and rural life.
.......Shakespeare wrote the lines of the play in verse and
in prose. For more information about Shakespeare plays that mix verse
and prose, click here.
Written: 1599 or earlier.
Printing: 1623 as part of the First Folio, the first authorized
collection of Shakespeare's plays.
.......Shakespeare based As
Like It on Rosalynde: Euphues Golden Legacie (1590), a
prose romance by Thomas Lodge (1557-1625).
Lodge based his romance, in turn, on The Tale of Gamelyn, an
anonymous poem of nine hundred lines written in the middle of the
fourteenth century. That poem tells the story of Gamelyn de Boundys, a
young man whose brother confiscates his inheritance. Gamelyn is forced
to live as a forest outlaw but eventually recovers what is rightfully
.......In explaining the
title of the play, Shakespeare scholar G.B. Harrison wrote, "[As You
Like It] is a lighthearted comedy which appeals to readers at all
stages and in all lighter moods. It pleases some by its idyllic
romance, others by its optimistic philosophy of simple goodness, and
yet others by its cynical irony. Indeed, you can take this play just as
you like it."—Shakespeare: The Complete
Works. New York: Harcourt, 1952 (page 776)..
takes place in a palace in northern Europe and in the Arden
Forest. There is an Arden Forest in Warwickshire, England, and an
Ardennes Forest in continental Europe. The latter forest encompasses
parts of Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. Thomas Lodge, who wrote a
play that Shakespeare used as the source for As You Like It,
earned a medical degree in France and practiced medicine in Belgium,
not far from the Ardennes forest.
Rightful duke living in banishment with his followers in the forest of
Arden. He is reminiscent of Robin Hood.
Duke Senior’s brother, who usurps Senior's dominions.
Lords attending on the banished duke.
Jaques de Boys: Sons of Sir Rowland de Boys. Orlando is in love
with Rosalind, daughter of Duke Senior. Oliver, the eldest son,
maltreats Orlando and denies him his full share in their father's
bequest. Jaques (not to be confused with the lord of the same name) is
away at school, prospering.
Daughter of Duke Senior. She is the ideal heroine—intelligent,
beautiful, courageous, cheerful, morally upright.
Celia: Daughter of Duke Frederick and good friend of
Courtier attending upon Frederick.
Wrestler in the service of Frederick.
Servants of Oliver. Adam, an old man who is mistreated by Oliver,
Clown. His presence in the play makes others react in a way that
reveals their qualities; hence, he lives up to his name. Literally a
touchstone is a black stone used to assay the purity of precious
metals. When a sample believed to contain gold or silver is rubbed
against a touchstone, the sample leaves a streak on the stone. Acid is
then used to burn away impurities that adulterate the gold or silver in
the sample, leaving behind only the precious metal. Assayers then can
evaluate the quality of the sample.
Martext: A vicar.
Country fellow in love with Audrey.
god of marriage in Greek mythology.
Lords, pages, forester, and attendants.
Sir Rowland de Boys died, he made Oliver, his eldest son, promise to
rear and educate Orlando, his youngest son. But after Sir Rowland’s
death, Oliver virtually imprisons Orlando in their home. The younger
brother receives no schooling, no guidance, and almost no money—unlike a third brother, Jaques, who lives away at
school, prospering. In the orchard of Oliver’s house, Orlando complains
to Adam, an old servant, that Oliver even pays more attention to his
horses. When Oliver enters the orchard, Orlando tells him:
father charged you in his will to give me good education: you have
trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all
gentleman-like qualities. The spirit of my father grows strong in me,
and I will no longer endure it; therefore allow me such exercises as
may become a gentleman, or give me the poor allottery my father left me
by testament; with that I will go buy my fortunes. (1.1.23)
other men—Duke Frederick and his younger brother Duke Senior—also
live at odds. Frederick had unjustly seized the dukedom of Senior and
banished him to the Forest of Arden. There, Senior and his loyal
followers learn to live like Robin Hood and his merry men, enjoying all
the simple pleasures of a rustic existence. As Senior says,
our life exempt from public haunt
Rosalind, remains behind at the court of Frederick. Rosalind
is the central character in the play, the hub around whom the wheel of
fortune revolves. At Duke Frederick’s behest, Rosalind is to serve as a
companion for his daughter, Celia. It so happens that Rosalind has a
sympathizer in Celia, for the two of them have been best friends since
childhood. Whenever Rosalind pines for her missing father, Celia is
there to comfort her. She says, “I pray thee, Rosalind, sweet my coz,
be merry” (1.2.3). Rosalind soon will have good cause to be merry, for
she is destined to fall in love with Orlando, the young man maltreated
by his brother Oliver. Here is what happens:
Finds tongues in
trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones
and good in every thing.
I would not change
flourishes on his own, like an unattended flower, displaying
the spirit and courtly bearing of his father, Rowland de Boys. However,
restricted as he is by his brother, Orlando lapses into melancholy.
When he learns that Duke Frederick’s champion wrestler, Charles, will
take on challengers, Orlando bids to compete. After all, he has nothing
to lose but his miserable life. Oliver, jealous of the fine young man
that his brother is becoming, urges Charles to break Orlando’s neck
during the match.
Celia, present to witness the competition, try to dissuade Orlando
from competing. Rosalind even attempts to have the match canceled.
match goes on and Orlando, heartened by the kindness shown by Celia
and Rosalind, defeats Charles! Duke Frederick admires the young man for
his courage and skill. But when Frederick learns Orlando is the son of
Sir Rowland, who was a friend of the banished Duke Senior, he leaves
the scene in a huff. Rosalind, however, rewards Orlando with a chain
from her neck. Later, when Rosalind and Celia are discussing Orlando,
Frederick bursts in and banishes Rosalind, for she reminds him too much
of her father, Duke Senior, and his late friend, Sir Rowland. Frederick
these ten days if that thou be’st [be] found
a man and calling herself Ganymede, Rosalind leaves to seek out her
father in the forest of Arden. Celia accompanies Rosalind, wearing the
clothes of a country maid and posing as Ganymede’s sister, Aliena.
Tagging along is Duke Frederick’s saucy-tongued court jester,
Touchstone. In the forest, they first encounter an old man, Corin,
talking with a young shepherd, Silvius. Silvius is deep in the throes
of melancholy because the woman he loves, a shepherdess named Phebe,
does not return his love. Rosalind empathizes with Silvius, for she now
knows what it is like to be in love but not be united with the beloved.
Rosalind contracts with Corin to buy a cottage for her, and she and
Celia move in.
So near our public
court as twenty miles,
Thou diest for it.
must leave. Oliver’s elderly servant, Adam, has warned Orlando
that the evil Oliver vows to burn Orlando’s chamber that very night as
Orlando sleeps. Orlando flees with Adam to the safety of the forest.
Rosalind and Celia buy a flock of sheep and become shepherds. When old
Adam complains of hunger, Orlando, sword in hand, demands food from
Duke Senior’s followers; but they generously share their food. When
Senior learns Orlando is the son of his old friend, Sir Rowland, he
takes Orlando under his protection.
Frederick, believing that Celia and Rosalind have run off with
Orlando, orders Oliver to find his brother and bring him back dead or
alive. If he fails in this task, he will lose all of his
forest, Orlando thinks often of Rosalind and carves her name on
trees and attaches love poems. At the same time, Touchstone tests the
worth of every character he meets in the forest with his quick-witted
rejoinders—the kind he delivered at court as a fool—spicing his
language with puns and paradoxes to lay bare the marrow of his
interlocutors. After Touchstone teases Rosalind about how her name is
appearing on trees everywhere in the forest, Rosalind (still disguised
as Ganymede) crosses paths one day with Orlando and playfully chides
him about abusing the trees by carving his poems into them. Then she
asks whether his rhymes truly reflect the love that he feels. Orlando
replies, “Neither rime nor reason can express how much” (3.2.152).
Orlando can cure himself of his foolish love if he will come to
her cottage each day and woo her as if she were Rosalind. In this way,
he will learn of the ways of whimsical ladies and gradually fall out of
love. Intrigued by this proposal, Orlando does as she asks. However,
Orlando only falls more deeply in love with the memory of Rosalind as
he takes part in the mock courtship. Rosalind’s love also deepens.
for Orlando, Oliver falls asleep under a tree. A green snake
entwines his neck, preparing to kill him. Nearby a lioness awaits her
turn at Oliver. Orlando happens upon the scene on his way to woo
Ganymede. He scares off the snake and, as Oliver awakens, draws his
sword and kills the lion at the cost of a deep wound to an arm.
Suddenly, Oliver repents and becomes a loving brother. Because
Orlando’s wound has made him too weak to continue to Ganymede’s
cottage, Oliver goes in his stead and explains what happened,
displaying a bloody handkerchief as proof of Orlando’s wound. Rosalind
the cottage, Oliver falls in love with Celia, and they vow to marry
the next day. Rosalind (as Ganymede) goes to Orlando and tells him she
is versed in magic and will conjure up Rosalind the following day so
that he can marry her. On the appointed day, Rosalind appears as
herself while the wedding guests, including Duke Senior and his
followers look on. By this time, Touchstone has found a love of his
own—Audrey, a country wench. In addition, Phebe, through a little
trickery worked by Rosalind, agrees to marry Silvius. Thus, on the
wedding day, four couples exchange vows: Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver
and Celia, Silvius and Phebe, and Touchstone and Audry. But it so
happens that there is also another event to celebrate. Jaques de Boys,
the third son of Rowland de Boys and the brother of Orlando and Oliver,
arrives to announce that a holy man has shown Duke Frederick the error
of his ways. Consequently, Frederick has ceded his crown back to Duke
Senior and retired from the corrupt and wordly life.
lives happily ever after.
.......The main conflicts in the play center on
the discord between Orlando and Oliver, Duke Frederick and Duke Senior,
Celia and her father (Duke Frederick), and the struggles of the lovers
to overcome the obstacles that separate them.
.......The tone of the play is lighthearted and
carefree. The playgoer and reader sense that the discord between
several characters will eventually resolve itself into amity and
of the conflicts—as well as the use of Rosalind's disguise
to create suspense—takes place quickly in the play. The audience can
then settle back and delight in the complications that follow. Overall,
the plot structure moves along smoothly and plausibly, with Rosalind—an
appealing, well-developed character—controlling the direction of the
story. However, the change of heart of the two villains, Oliver and
Duke Frederick, seems contrived and forced. Oliver reforms,
unqualifiedly contrite, after his brother Orlando saves him from a lion
(leo ex machina). Then, Orlando's other brother, Jaques de Boys,
pops up from nowhere in Act V to tell us that an "old religious man"
has converted Duke Frederick, turning him into an upright man who has
yielded his crown to his banished brother, Duke Senior.
.......The climax of a
play or another narrative work, such as a short story or a novel, can
be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to
resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most
exciting event in a series of events. The climax of As You Like It occurs,
to the first definition, when Rosalind faints after learning
that a lion has wounded Orlando, then decides to reveal her true
identity to bring about a resolution to the plot complications.
According to the second definition, the climax occurs when Hymen, the
god of marriage in Greek mythology, enters in the fourth scene of Act V
with Rosalind, who is no longer wearing her disguise as the male
Ganymede. Hymen then unites Rosalind with her father, Duke Senior, and
her beloved, Orlando, by reciting these lines:
..............HYMEN...Then is there mirth in heaven,
things made even
receive thy daughter
heaven brought her,
mightst join her hand with his
within his bosom is. (5.4.60-67)
The others follow up
with these lines:
Senior] To you I give myself, for I am yours.
give myself, for I am yours.
SENIOR...If there be truth in sight, you
are my daughter.
be truth in sight, you are my Rosalind. (5.4.68-71)
Love as Life's Greatest Joy
brotherly, and humanitarian love all bring great joy to the major
characters in the play after they overcome the obstacles that separate
them from one another.
Romantic Love: a Many-Splintered Thing.
love triumphs in the end, all of the lovers undergo trials that divide
them. Touchstone observes, "We that are true lovers run into strange
capers" (2.4.35). Celia tells Rosalind, "It is as easy to count atomies
[tiny creatures] as to resolve the propositions of a lover (3.2.82)
Nature as a Healer
everyone who enters the forest becomes better for the experience.
Shakespeare used the "nature heals" theme in other plays as well,
including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labour's Lost,
and The Tempest.But nature does not always behave well in
Shakespeare. King Lear found that out
during a raging storm, and Macbeth fell
victim to the trees of Birnham Wood.
Brother Against Brother
literature, the theme of brother against brother is as old as the story
of Cain and Abel in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.
Shakespeare presents this theme anew in Act 1 when he reveals that
Oliver despises his younger brother Orlando and fails to provide for
him in accordance with their father's will. In the same act,
Shakespeare also reveals that Duke Frederick despises his older
brother, Duke Senior, and has usurped his lands political power.
However, Oliver reconciles with Orlando after the latter saves Oliver
from a snake and a lion. Later, through the intervention of a holy man,
Duke Frederick reforms his ways and surrenders his dukedom to Senior.
These developments demonstrate that even the deepest family divisions
are not beyond repair.
Nature: How They Differ
I, Shakespeare personifies fortune and nature in order to convey a
central theme of the play: that fortune and nature often work at odds.
For example, fortune may bestow such gifts as wealth, position, and
power on a person simply because he was born into the right family.
However, if he lacks certain gifts of nature—such as nobility,
foresight, courage, and wisdom—he will not have the wherewithal to
manage his material gifts properly. On the other hand, nature may
bestow a bounty of gifts on a person whom fortune has ignored. This
person will have the faculties to make his way in the world but not the
material gifts to succeed without a struggle. Following is the passage
focusing on this theme.
CELIA.. Let us sit and mock the good housewife
Fortune from her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed
benefited more from nature than from fortune; the opposite is true of
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.
CELIA...'Tis true; for those that she makes fair she
scarce makes honest, and those that she makes honest she makes very
ROSALIND..Nay, now thou goest from Fortune's office to
Nature's: Fortune reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments
of Nature. (1.2.11-14)
Speech: Extended Metaphor on the 'Ages of Man'
extended metaphor, Shakespeare philosophizes through Jaques (spelled
without a c before the q), a lord in the service of
Duke Senior. The metaphorical passage—focusing on "The Seven Ages of
Man"—is one of the most famous passages in Shakespeare. It is stunning
poetry—in fact, it is often included in anthologies as a separate poem
demonstrating the remarkable power and beauty of Shakespeare's
passage is cynical and pessimistic in its metaphorical message,
which makes the world a stage and human beings actors in the gloomy
drama of life. Each man, it says, goes through life playing various
parts and ends up old and toothless, without being the better for his
experience, wondering, What was life all about, anyway?
However, although this passage seems out of place in this mostly
uplifting play, it does serve a purpose: to illuminate, by comparison
and contrast, the enthusiasm and optimism of other characters in the
play as they pursue their heart's desires. Following is the
All the world's a stage,1
Other Figures of Speech
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling2 and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
like furnace, with a woeful ballad3
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,4
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation5
Even in the cannon's mouth.6 And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,7
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws8 and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,9
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too
For his shrunk shank;10 and his big manly
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness11 and mere oblivion,
Sans12 teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. (2.7.139-166)
.......Following are examples of other figures
of speech in the play. For definitions of figures of speech, see Literary Terms.
When Nature hath made a fair creature, may she not by Fortune
fall into the fire? (1.2.16)
both forth now: stroke your
and swear by
your beards that I am a knave.
then the love
Which teacheth thee
that thou and I am one.
the winter’s wind (2.1.9)
in my old limbs lie lame
That is another simple
sin in you, to bring the ewes
and the rams together, and
to offer to get your living by the copulation
cattle; to be bawd
to a bell-wether,
and to betray a she-lamb
O blessed bond
board and bed! (5.4.94)
troth, thou sayest true; for since the little
wit that fools have was silenced, the little
foolery that wise men have makes a great show. (Celia, 1.2.33)
So was I when your highness took his
So was I when your highness banish’d him.
I have trod a measure; I have flattered a lady; I have been politic with my friend, smooth
with mine enemy; I have undone
three tailors; I have had four
quarrels, and like to have fought one. (5.4.42)
blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so
ingratitude (opening lines of a song at 2.7.185)
addresses the wind.
Hang there, my
verse, in witness of my love:
thrice-crowned queen of night, survey
With thy chaste
eye, from thy pale sphere above,
name, that my full life doth sway. (3.2.3-6)
addresses the queen of night in alluding to the goddess of the moon
and the hunt in
Greek mythology. Her name is Artemis (Roman name: Diana).
My better parts
Metonymy and Simile
Are all thrown down, and that which here stands up
Is but a quintain, a mere lifeless block. (Orlando,
a man to a quintain, a practice target for knights wielding lances
They found the bed untreasur’d of their mistress.
Comparison of Celia to a treasure
I shall ne’er be ware of mine own wit till I break my shins
against it. (Touchstone, 2.4.37)
Comparison of wit to a solid object
O Rosalind! these trees shall be my books,
And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character. (Orlando,
Comparison of trees to books and barks to pages of the books
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer. (2.7.33)
Metonymy: Use of lungs for voice
Simile: Comparison of the sound of the human voice to the
sound of crowing rooster
My [old] age is as a lusty winter. (2.3.55)
Adam is old but he is a youthful old person (lusty winter).
Know you not, master, to some kind of men
Their graces serve them but as enemies? (2.3.12-13)
Graces become enemies.
O, what a world is this, when what is comely
Envenoms him that bears it! (Adam, 2.3.16-17)
That which is comely (attractive, beautiful) is poisonous.
Sweetest nut hath sourest rind. (3.2.41)
That which is sweet is also sour.
.......In the following prose passage, Rosalind
and Orlando speak of time as a person.
in divers paces with divers persons. I’ll tell you who Time
ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal, and who
he stands still withal.
prithee, who doth he trot withal?
he trots hard with a young maid between the contract of her
marriage and the day it is solemnized; if the interim be but a
se’nnight, Time’s pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven
ambles Time withal?
a priest that lacks Latin, and a rich man that hath not the gout;
for the one sleeps easily because he cannot study, and the other lives
merrily because he feels no pain; the one lacking the burden of lean
and wasteful learning, the other knowing no burden of heavy tedious
penury. These Time ambles withal.
doth he gallop withal?
a thief to the gallows; for though he go as softly as foot can
fall he thinks himself too soon there. (3.2.125-131)
went, like Juno’s swans,
Still we went
coupled and inseparable.
herself and Rosalind to swans.
. . . is as dry as
the remainder biscuit
After a voyage.
the brain to a biscuit
I found him
under a tree, like a dropped acorn. (3.2.82)
Orlando to an acorn.
Allusions and Symbolism
possible that Shakespeare intended the rifts between the two sets of
brothers in the play—(1) Duke Frederick and Duke Senior and (2) Oliver
and Orlando—to symbolize the deadly rift between Cain and Abel as
described in Chapter 4 of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.
Cain and Abel were sons of Adam.
play, Adam is an elderly servant who attempts to pacify
Orlando and Oliver—as if the biblical Adam had come alive to temper the
anger between his sons. Shakespeare’s Adam is described as very old,
like the biblical Adam, who lived to an extremely old age. There is
also a direct reference to the biblical Adam by Duke Senior:
co-mates and brothers in exile,
appears that the Forest of Arden is the Garden of Eden, a new Eden
that brings only happiness to those who enter it. Orlando does not eat
of forbidden fruit on a tree. Rather, he carves on trees poems to
lovely Rosalind. When Rosalind shows his poems to Touchstone, the
latter says—in an apparent biblical allusion (and a play on
words)—“Truly, the tree yields bad fruit” (3.2.44). However, although
the poems are less than sterling, they do bear good fruit: Rosalind.
After discovering the identity of the author, Orlando, her love for him
Hath not old custom13 made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp?14 Are not these woods
More free from
peril than the envious court?
Here feel we but
the penalty of Adam,15
difference, as the icy fang
chiding of the winter’s wind. (2.1.3-9)
.......Shakespeare presents several songs in As
Like It that bolster the lighthearted tone of the play. Perhaps
the most famous and most delightful of the songs are the following. The
first merrily reproves man's ingratitude and his tendency to forget a
friend. The second celebrates the joy of springtime love.
Blow, Thou Winter Wind
Man's Encroachment on Nature
thou winter wind,
not so unkind
is not so keen,
art not seen,
breath be rude,
sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
is most jolly.
thou bitter sky,
not bite so nigh
the waters warp,
is not so sharp
sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
is most jolly. (2.7.184)
A Lover and
It was a
lover and his lass,
hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
the green corn-field did pass,
spring time, the only pretty ring time,
do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
love the spring.
the acres of the rye,
a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
country folks would lie,
the spring time, &c.
carol they began that hour,
a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that a
life was but a flower
the spring time, &c.
therefore take the present time,
a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino;
For love is
crowned with the prime
the spring time, &c. (5.3.11)
.......Duke Frederick usurped Duke Senior's
property. In turn, Duke Senior expropriated the domain of deer and
other animals, according to Jaques. The following passage focuses on
Jaques' reaction to Senior's "offense."
SENIOR Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
And yet it irks me,
the poor dappled fools,
burghers of this desert city,
Should in their own
confines with forked heads
Have their round
haunches gor’d. 28
LORD Indeed, my lord,
Jaques grieves at that;
And, in that kind,
swears you do more usurp
Than doth your
brother that hath banish’d you. 32
To-day my Lord of
Amiens and myself
Did steal behind him
as he lay along
Under an oak whose
antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that
brawls along this wood; 36
To the which place a
poor sequester’d stag,
That from the
hunters’ aim had ta’en a hurt,
Did come to
languish; and, indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal
heav’d forth such groans 40
That their discharge
did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting,
and the big round tears
Cours’d one another
down his innocent nose
In piteous chase;
and thus the hairy fool, 44
Much marked of the
Stood on the
extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with
appears to suggest that Shakespeare was aware more than four hundred
years ago of the deleterious effects of man's encroachment on his
natural surroundings. Jaques' concern for nature may in part account
for his melancholy demeanor.
Use of Disguises
.......Time and again, Shakespeare disguises women as men to
further a plot. For example, In All's Well That Ends Well,
Helena wears the attire of a pilgrim to get close
In Cymbeline, Imogen becomes a page boy to win back
Posthumous. Julia also becomes a page boy in The Two Gentlemen of
Verona, as does Viola in Twelfth Night. In The Merchant
of Venice, Portia disguises herself as a male judge to save the
friend of her lover in a court of law. Rosalind, in As You Like It,
the garb of a man to become a shepherd as she seeks out her love,
Orlando. In each of these plays, the women disguised as men eventually
reveal their true female identities.
.......All of this trickery could have been quite confusing
to playgoers in Shakespeare's day, for only men played women's roles.
Thus, in the above-mentioned plays, men played women disguised as men
who at some point doffed their male identities to reveal themselves as
branded an outlaw, is really the rightful ruler; his younger
brother, the usurping duke, is really an outlaw.
Study Questions and Essay Topics
1.....Rosalind falls in love with Orlando upon
first seeing him. Likewise, Oliver falls in love with Celia when they
first meet. In an informative essay, define “love at first sight” and
explain whether it can really be true love or is simply infatuation.
2.....Why does Oliver mistreat Orlando?
3.....Which character in the play is the most
admirable? Which character is the least admirable?
4.....Duke Senior lives in the Forest of Arden
like Robin Hood. Who was Robin Hood? Did Robin Hood actually
5.....After Rosalind disguises herself, she calls
herself Ganymede. In Greek mythology, who was Ganymede?
1.....All the world’s a stage: This clause
is the English translation of the Latin motto of the Globe Theatre: Totus
agit histrionem. The clause begins the extended metaphor in
which the world becomes a stage and the people—in various stages of
their lives—become the actors.
2.....Mewling: Whimpering; whining.
4.....pard: Leopard or panther.
5.....bubble reputation: Fame is like a
bubble: it develops quickly, then bursts.
6.....Even in the cannon’s mouth: To
achieve fame, the soldier will even charge when enemy cannons are
7.....justice . . . lined: Some judges in
Shakespeare’s time accepted gifts, such as capons (immature roosters
that are castrated and well fed to improve the quality of their meat),
in return for a favorable ruling.
8.....saws: Proverbs, maxims, aphorisms,
9.....pantaloon: Foolish old man.
Pantaloons were stock characters in a type of Italian comedy called
commedia dell’arte, which became popular in the middle of the sixteenth
century. Actors improvised their parts after receiving an outline of
10.....hose . . . shank: His knee-high
stockings (hose) no longer fit his shrinking, withering shank (lower
11.....second childishness: Senility.
12.....Sans: French for without.
pronunciation: sahn, spoken nasally; English pronunciation:
sanz. Shakespeare used the latter.)
13.....custom: The experience of life in
14.....painted pomp: Life at court, with
all of its artificial trappings.
15.....penalty of Adam . . . wind: As
descendants of Adam and inheritors of original sin, the men—though they
may live in a kind of Eden—do feel the sting of a cold wind.