As You Like It

As You Like It

Overview

As You Like It is a pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 comedy
Shakespearean comedy
In the First Folio, the plays of William Shakespeare were grouped into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies."Comedy", in its Elizabethan usage, had a very different meaning from modern comedy...

 by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House
Wilton House
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years....

 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.
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Quotations

How now, wit! whither wander you?

Celia, scene ii

The little foolery that wise men have makes a great show.

Celia, scene ii

Well said: that was laid on with a trowel.

Celia, scene ii

Your heart’s desires be with you!

Celia, scene ii

One out of suits with fortune.

Rosalind, scene ii

My pride fell with my fortunes.

Rosalind, scene ii

Hereafter, in a better world than this,I shall desire more love and knowledge of you.

Le Beau, scene ii

Celia: Not a word?Rosalind: Not one to throw at a dog.

Scene iii

O, how full of briars is this working-day world!

Rosalind, scene iii
Encyclopedia

As You Like It is a pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 comedy
Shakespearean comedy
In the First Folio, the plays of William Shakespeare were grouped into three categories: comedies, histories, and tragedies."Comedy", in its Elizabethan usage, had a very different meaning from modern comedy...

 by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House
Wilton House
Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years....

 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.

Characters


The Court of Duke Frederick:
  • Duke Frederick, Duke Senior's younger brother and his usurper, also Celia's father
  • Rosalind
    Rosalind (As You Like It)
    Rosalind is a fictional character and the romantic female lead in the comedy As You Like It by William Shakespeare.She is the daughter of the exiled Duke Senior and niece to his usurping brother Duke Frederick. After angering her uncle, she leaves his court for exile in the Forest of Arden...

    , Duke Senior's daughter
  • Celia, Duke Frederick's daughter and Rosalind's cousin
  • Touchstone
    Touchstone (As You Like It)
    Touchstone is an interesting fictional character in Shakespeare's play As You Like It. Touchstone is the court fool or jester, portrayed as a wise man with a dry, cynical wit. Throughout the play he comments on the other characters of the play and thus, contributes to a better understanding of the...

    , a court fool
    Shakespearian fool
    The Shakespearean fool is a recurring and character type in the works of William Shakespeare.Shakespearean fools are usually clever peasants or commoners that use their wits to outdo people of higher social standing. In this sense, they are very similar to the real fools, clowns, and jesters of...

  • Le Beau, a courtier
  • Charles, a wrestler


The Exiled Court of Duke Senior in the Forest of Arden:
  • Duke Senior, Duke Frederick's older brother and Rosalind's father
  • Jaques, a discontented, melancholy lord
  • Amiens, an attending lord and musician


The Household of the deceased Sir Rowland de Bois:
  • Oliver de Bois, the eldest son and heir
  • Jacques de Bois
  • Orlando de Bois
    Orlando (As You Like It)
    Orlando is a fictional character and the romantic male lead in the comedy As You Like It by William Shakespeare.Orlando is the youngest son of the deceased Sir Rowland de Boys and a brother to Oliver. He was resents the harsh treatment he receives at Oliver's hands and complains that Oliver...

    , youngest son
  • Adam, a faithful old servant who follows Orlando into exile
  • Dennis, Oliver's servant

Country folk in the Forest of Arden:
  • Phebe, a shepherdess
  • Silvius, a shepherd
  • Audrey, a country girl
  • Corin, an elderly shepherd
  • William, a country man
  • Sir Oliver Martext, a curate


Other characters:
  • Lords and ladies in Duke Frederick's court
  • Lords in Duke Senior's forest court
  • Pages and musicians
  • Hymen, a character appearing in a play-within-the-play; God of marriage, as appearing in a masque


Synopsis


The play is set in a duchy
Duchy
A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era . In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era...

 in France, but most of the action takes place in a location called the 'Forest of Arden
Arden, Warwickshire
Arden is an area, mainly located in Warwickshire, England, traditionally regarded as stretching from the River Avon to the River Tame.-History:...

'.

Frederick has usurped the Duchy and exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

d 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
Ganymede (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ganymede is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. Homer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals. In the best-known myth, he is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus. Some interpretations of the myth treat it as an allegory of...

 ("Jove
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

's own page"), and Celia, now disguised as Aliena (Latin for "stranger"), arrive in the Arcadian Forest of Arden, where the exile
Exile
Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

d Duke now lives with some supporters, including "the melancholy Jaques," who is introduced to us weeping over the slaughter of a deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

. "Ganymede" and "Aliena" do not immediately encounter the Duke and his companions, as they meet up with Corin, an impoverished tenant
Leasehold estate
A leasehold estate is an ownership of a temporary right to land or property in which a lessee or a tenant holds rights of real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord....

, 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 (some directors treat this as a tale, rather than reality ). 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
Scene (fiction)
In fiction, a scene is a unit of drama. A sequel is what follows; an aftermath. Together, scene and sequel provide the building blocks of plot for short stories, novels, and other forms of fiction.-Characteristics of a scene:...

, after which they discover that Frederick has also repented his faults, deciding to restore his legitimate brother to the duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

dom 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.

Source


Shakespeare hardly ever invented the stories of his plays. Like other writers at that time, he borrowed them from old stories or poems, but rewrote them in his own words. The direct and immediate source of "As You Like It" is Thomas Lodge
Thomas Lodge
Thomas Lodge was an English dramatist and writer of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.-Early life and education:...

's "Rosalynde, Euphues' Golden Legacy", first published in 1590. Lodge's story is based upon "The Tale of Gamelyn", wrongly attributed to Chaucer and printed among Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales". The "Tale" must have existed in manuscript form in Shakespeare's time, though it was first printed in 1721. It is extremely doubtful if Shakespeare had read it. But Lodge must have built his pastoral romance on the foundation of the "Tale", giving it a pastoral setting and an artificial vein of feeling and sentiment that were much in fashion at the time. The novel provided the intertwined plots, and suggested all the characters except Touchstone
Touchstone (As You Like It)
Touchstone is an interesting fictional character in Shakespeare's play As You Like It. Touchstone is the court fool or jester, portrayed as a wise man with a dry, cynical wit. Throughout the play he comments on the other characters of the play and thus, contributes to a better understanding of the...

 and Jaques.

Two other minor debts have been suggested by some. The first is Drayton's "Polyolbion", a poetic description of England but there is no evidence that the poem was written before 'As You Like It'. The second suggested source is "Orlando Furioso" of Robert Greene, acted about 1592. It is said that Shakespeare derived the idea of Orlando's carving his lady's name on barks of trees from this play. But a lover carving love-poems on barks of trees was already in Lodge And Shakespeare got it from the novel.

Date and text


"As You Like It" was first printed in the collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, known as the Folio edition
First Folio
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio....

, 1623. No copy of it in Quarto exists, for the play is mentioned by the printers of the first Folio among those which 'are not formerly entered to other men'. By means of evidences, external and internal, the date of composition of the play has been approximately fixed at a period between the end of 1598 and the middle of 1600.

External Evidences


As You Like It is entered into the Register of the Stationers Company
Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was founded in 1403; it received a Royal Charter in 1557...

 on 4 August 1600 as a work which is 'to be stayed'. i.e., not published till the Stationers' Company were satisfied that the publisher in whose name the work was entered was the undisputed owner of the copyright. All this evidence implies that the play was in existence in some shape or other before 1600.

One thing seems certain that this play must have been written after 1598. Otherwise Francis Meres must have mentioned it in his "Palladis Tamia" which was published in 1598.

Thomas Morley's "First Book of Ayres", published in London in 1600 contains a musical setting for the song "It was a Lover and his Lass" from As You Like It.

Thus the evidence establish the two limits September 1598 and August 1600, within which the play must have been written.

Internal Evidence


In Act III Sc V Phebe refers to the famous line 'Whoever loved that loved not at first sight' taken from Marlowe's
Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

 " Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander (poem)
Hero and Leander is a mythological poem by Christopher Marlowe. After Marlowe's death it was completed by George Chapman. Henry Petowe published an alternate completion to the poem.-Publication:...

" which was published in 1598. Morever, these words in Act IV Sc I, in Rosalind's speech 'I will weep for nothing, like Diana in the fountain' may refer to an Alabaster image of Diana which was set up in Cheapside in 1598. Therefore, on the basis of these references, it seems certain that "As You Like It" must have been composed in 1599 or 1600 at the least.

Setting


Arden is most likely a toponym
Toponymy
Toponymy is the scientific study of place names , their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word "toponymy" is derived from the Greek words tópos and ónoma . Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds...

 for a forest close to Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, south east of Birmingham and south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers...

. The Oxford Shakespeare edition rationalises this geographical discrepancy by assuming that 'Arden' is an anglicisation
Anglicisation
Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

 of the forested Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 region of France (where Lodge set his tale) and alters the spelling to reflect this. Other editions keep Shakespeare's 'Arden' spelling, since it can be argued that the pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 mode
Mode (literature)
In literature, a mode is an employed method or approach, identifiable within a written work. As descriptive terms, form and genre are often used inaccurately instead of mode; for example, the pastoral mode is often mistakenly identified as a genre...

 depicts a fantastical world in which geographical details are irrelevant. The Arden edition of Shakespeare makes the suggestion that the name 'Arden' comes from a combination of the classical
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 region of Arcadia
Arcadia (utopia)
Arcadia refers to a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature. The term is derived from the Greek province of the same name which dates to antiquity; the province's mountainous topography and sparse population of pastoralists later caused the word Arcadia to develop into a poetic byword for an...

 and the biblical garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

, as there is a strong interplay of classical and Christian belief systems and philosophies within the play.

Performance


There is no certain record of any performance before the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

. There is one possible performance, however, at Wilton House in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke
Earl of Pembroke
Earl of Pembroke is a title created ten times, all in the Peerage of England. It was first created in the 12th century by King Stephen of England. The title is associated with Pembroke, Pembrokeshire in West Wales, which is the site of Earldom's original seat Pembroke Castle...

. William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, KG, PC was the son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke and his third wife Mary Sidney. Chancellor of the University of Oxford, he founded Pembroke College, Oxford with King James. He was warden of the Forest of Dean, and constable of St Briavels from 1608...

 hosted James I and his Court at Wilton House from October to December 1603, while Jacobean
Jacobean era
The Jacobean era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of King James VI of Scotland, who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I...

 London was suffering an epidemic of bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

. The King's Men
King's Men (playing company)
The King's Men was the company of actors to which William Shakespeare belonged through most of his career. Formerly known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it became The King's Men in 1603 when King James ascended the throne and became the company's patron.The...

 were paid £30 to come to Wilton House and perform for the King and Court on 2 December 1603. A Herbert family tradition holds that the play acted that night was As You Like It.

During the English Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

, the King's Company
King's Company
The King's Company was one of two enterprises granted the rights to mount theatrical productions in London at the start of the English Restoration. It existed from 1660 to 1682.-History:...

 was assigned the play by royal warrant
Royal Warrant
Royal warrants of appointment have been issued for centuries to those who supply goods or services to a royal court or certain royal personages. The warrant enables the supplier to advertise the fact that they supply to the royal family, so lending prestige to the supplier...

 in 1669. It is known to have been acted at Drury Lane
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

 in 1723, in an adapted form called Love in a Forest; Colley Cibber
Colley Cibber
Colley Cibber was an English actor-manager, playwright and Poet Laureate. His colourful memoir Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber describes his life in a personal, anecdotal and even rambling style...

 played Jaques. Another Drury Lane production seventeen years later returned to the Shakespearean text (1740).

Notable recent productions of As You Like It include the 1936 Old Vic Theatre production starring Edith Evans
Edith Evans
Dame Edith Mary Evans, DBE was a British actress. She was known for her work on the British stage. She also appeared in a number of films, for which she received three Academy Award nominations, plus a BAFTA and a Golden Globe award.Evans was particularly effective at portraying haughty...

 and the 1961 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre production starring Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave, CBE is an English actress of stage, screen and television, as well as a political activist.She rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since made more than 35 appearances on London's West End and Broadway, winning...

. The longest running Broadway production starred Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress of film, stage, and television. In a career that spanned 62 years as a leading lady, she was best known for playing strong-willed, sophisticated women in both dramas and comedies...

 as Rosalind, Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman is an American actress of stage, film and television. She has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards—more than any other performer—and one Daytime Emmy Award...

 as Celia, William Prince
William Prince (actor)
William LeRoy Prince was an American actor who appeared in numerous soap operas and made dozens of guest appearances on primetime series as well as playing villains in movies like The Gauntlet and Spontaneous Combustion.-Biography:Prince was born in Nichols, New York, the son of Myrtle , a nurse...

 as Orlando, and Ernest Thesiger
Ernest Thesiger
Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger CBE was an English stage and film actor. He is best known for his performance as Dr...

 as Jacques, and was directed by Michael Benthall
Michael Benthall
Michael Pickersgill Benthall was an English theatre director.As an undergraduate at Oxford University, Michael Benthall met Robert Helpmann, who had been fulfilling an invitation to dance at there...

. It ran for 145 performances in 1950. Another notable production was at the 2005 Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario
Stratford, Ontario
Stratford is a city on the Avon River in Perth County in southwestern Ontario, Canada with a population of 32,000.When the area was first settled by Europeans in 1832, the townsite and the river were named after Stratford-upon-Avon, England. It is the seat of Perth County. Stratford was...

, which was set in the 1960s and featured Shakespeare's lyrics set to music written by Barenaked Ladies
Barenaked Ladies
Barenaked Ladies is a Canadian alternative rock band. The band is currently composed of Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart. Barenaked Ladies formed in 1988 in Scarborough, Ontario, then a suburban municipality outside the City of Toronto...

.

Critical response


Scholars have long disagreed about the merits of the play. Critics from Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

 to George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 have complained that As You Like It is lacking in the high artistry of which Shakespeare was capable. Shaw liked to think that Shakespeare wrote the play as a mere crowdpleaser, and signalled his own middling opinion of the work by calling it As You Like It – as if the playwright did not agree. Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

 objected to the immorality of the characters and Touchstone's constant clowning. Other critics have found great literary value in the work. Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

 has written that Rosalind is among Shakespeare's greatest and most fully realised female characters. Despite critical disputes, the play remains one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed comedies.

The elaborate gender reversals in the story are of particular interest to modern critics interested in gender studies
Gender studies
Gender studies is a field of interdisciplinary study which analyses race, ethnicity, sexuality and location.Gender study has many different forms. One view exposed by the philosopher Simone de Beauvoir said: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one"...

. Through four acts of the play, Rosalind – who in Shakespeare's day would have been played by a boy – finds it necessary to disguise herself as a boy, whereupon the rustic Phebe (also played by a boy), becomes infatuated with this "Ganymede
Ganymede (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Ganymede is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. Homer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals. In the best-known myth, he is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus. Some interpretations of the myth treat it as an allegory of...

", a name with homoerotic overtones. In fact, the epilogue, spoken by Rosalind to the audience, states rather explicitly that she (or at least the actor playing her) is not a woman.

Love


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".

Forgiveness


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.

Religious allegory


University of Wisconsin professor Richard Knowles, the editor of the 1977 New Variorum edition of this play, described in his article "Myth and Type in As You Like It" how the play contains mythological references in particular to Eden and to Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...


Music and Songs


As You Like It is known as a musical romantic comedy because of the number of songs in the play. There are more songs in it than in any other play of Shakespeare. These songs and music are incorporated in the course of action that takes place in the forest of Arden, as shown below:
  • . Under the Greenwood Tree: It summarises the views of Duke Senior on the advantages of country life over the amenities of the court. Amiens sings this song.
  • . Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind: This song is sung by Amiens. It states that physical suffering caused by frost and winter winds is preferable to the inner suffering caused by man's ingratitude.
  • . What Shall He Have That Killed the Deer: It is another song which adds a lively spectacle and some forest-colouring to contrast with love-talk in the adjoining scenes. it highlights the pastoral atmosphere.
  • . It was a Lover and his Lass: It serves as a prelude to the wedding ceremony. It praises spring time and is intended to announce the rebirth of nature and the theme of moral regeneration in human life.

Use of Prose


Shakespeare's plays are largely written in verse. However, in his comedies, we find a considerable use of prose. Shakespeare uses prose as a means of expression in conversation. Prose is used wherever he intends to lower the dramatic pitch and does not wish to have a poetical effect.

Prose is used in "As You Like It" for comic situations and by comic characters like Touchstone. Characters of humble position, Audrey, William, and Corin speak in prose.

In contrast to prose, verse is used for grave matters, as poetry adds to dignity and gracefullness.

The use of prose in "As You Like It" enhances the comedy produced by the disguises and misconceptions.

All the world's a stage


Act II, Scene 7, features one of Shakespeare's most famous monologues , which states:
"All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts."
This famous monologue is spoken by Jaques. It contains arresting imagery and figures of speech to develop the central metaphor: a person's lifespan being a play in seven acts. These acts, "seven ages", beginwith "the infant/Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" and work through six further vivid verbal sketches, culminating in "second childishness and mere oblivion,/Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything".

Pastoral mode


The main theme of pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 comedy is love in all its guises in a rustic setting, the genuine love embodied by Rosalind contrasted with the sentimentalised affectations of Orlando, and the improbable happenings that set the urban courtiers wandering to find exile, solace or freedom in a woodland setting are no more unrealistic than the string of chance encounters in the forest, provoking witty banter, which require no subtleties of plotting and character development. The main action of the first act is no more than a wrestling match, and the action throughout is often interrupted by a song. At the end, Hymen
Hymenaios
In Greek mythology, Hymen was a god of marriage ceremonies, inspiring feasts and song. Related to the god's name, a hymenaios is a genre of Greek lyric poetry sung during the procession of the bride to the groom's house in which the god is addressed, in contrast to the Epithalamium, which was sung...

 himself arrives to bless the wedding festivities.


William Shakespeare’s play As You Like It clearly falls into the Pastoral Romance genre; but Shakespeare does not merely use the genre, he develops it. Shakespeare also used the Pastoral genre in As You Like It to ‘cast a critical eye on social practices that produce injustice and unhappiness, and to make fun of anti-social, foolish and self-destructive behaviour’, most obviously through the theme of love, culminating in a rejection of the notion of the traditional Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

an lovers.


The stock characters in conventional situations were familiar material for Shakespeare and his audience; it is the light repartee and the breadth of the subjects that provide texts for wit that put a fresh stamp on the proceedings. At the centre the optimism
Optimism
The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as having "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favourable or hopeful view." The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Being optimistic, in the typical sense...

 of Rosalind is contrasted with the misogynistic
Misogyny
Misogyny is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Philogyny, meaning fondness, love or admiration towards women, is the antonym of misogyny. The term misandry is the term for men that is parallel to misogyny...

 melancholy of Jaques. Shakespeare would take up some of the themes more seriously later: the usurper Duke and the Duke in exile provide themes for Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays...

and The Tempest.

The play, turning upon chance encounters in the forest and several entangled love affairs in a serene pastoral setting, has been found, by many directors, to be especially effective staged outdoors in a park or similar site.

Music


Donovan
Donovan
Donovan Donovan Donovan (born Donovan Philips Leitch (born 10 May 1946) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist. Emerging from the British folk scene, he developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music...

 set "Under The Greenwood Tree" to music and recorded it for A Gift from a Flower to a Garden
A Gift from a Flower to a Garden
A Gift from a Flower to a Garden is the fifth album from Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan, and marks the first double album of his career and one of the first box sets in rock music...

in 1968.

Thomas Morley
Thomas Morley
Thomas Morley was an English composer, theorist, editor and organist of the Renaissance, and the foremost member of the English Madrigal School. He was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England and an organist at St Paul's Cathedral...

 (c. 1557–1602) composed music for "It was a Lover and His Lass"; he lived in the same parish as Shakespeare, and at times composed music for Shakespeare's plays.

Mark Nichols
Mark Nichols (American Composer/Playwright)
Mark Nichols is an American playwright, composer and lyricist. He began his writing career as a solo artist on Seattle's Pop Llama Records after playing keyboards in bands like The Squirrels and Prudence Dredge. Best known for his musicals Little Boy Goes to Hell , Joe Bean , and How to Survive...

 wrote a musical version of the play in 2007.

Radio


According to the history of radio station WCAL
KCMP
-WCAL:The station began with physics experiments in 1918 when five students and a professor built a small radio transmitter at St. Olaf College. Using a wire antenna strung between the campus chapel and the college's "Old Main" , signals from these experiments were picked up as far away as New...

 in the US state of Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, As You Like It may have been the first play ever broadcast. It went over the air in 1922.

Film


As You Like It
As You Like It (1936 film)
As You Like It is a 1936 film, directed by Paul Czinner and starring Laurence Olivier as Orlando and Elisabeth Bergner as Rosalind. It is based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name...

was Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

's first Shakespeare film. Olivier, however, served only in an acting capacity (performing the role of Orlando), rather than producing or directing the film. Made in England and released in 1936, As You Like It also starred director Paul Czinner
Paul Czinner
Paul Czinner was a writer, film director, and producer.Czinner was born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary. After studying literature and philosophy at the University of Vienna, he worked as a journalist. From 1919 onward, he dedicated himself to work for the filming industry as writer, director and...

's wife Elizabeth Bergner, who played Rosalind with a thick German accent. Although it is much less "Hollywoody" than the versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet made at about the same time, and although its cast was made up entirely of Shakespearean actors, it was not considered a success by either Olivier or the critics.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
Dame Helen Mirren, DBE is an English actor. She has won an Academy Award for Best Actress, four SAG Awards, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards.-Early life and family:...

 starred as Rosalind in the 1978 BBC videotaped version of As You Like It, directed by Basil Coleman.

In 1992, Christine Edzard made another film adaptation of the play. It features James Fox
James Fox
James Fox, OBE is an English actor.-Early life:James Fox was born in London, England to theatrical agent Robin Fox and actress Angela Worthington. He is the brother of actor Edward Fox and film producer Robert Fox. The actress Emilia Fox is his niece and the actor Laurence Fox is his son. His...

, Cyril Cusack
Cyril Cusack
Cyril James Cusack was an Irish actor, who appeared in more than 90 films.-Early life:Cusack was born in Durban, Natal, South Africa, the son of Alice Violet , an actress, and James Walter Cusack, a sergeant in the Natal mounted police. His parents separated when he was young and his mother took...

, Andrew Tiernan
Andrew Tiernan
Andrew James Tiernan is an English actor.-Theatre:Tiernan began acting with the Birmingham Youth Theatre and moved to London in 1984 to study a three-year Diploma in Acting at the Drama Centre London run by Christopher Fettes and Yat Malmgren...

, Griff Rhys Jones
Griff Rhys Jones
Griffith "Griff" Rhys Jones is a Welsh comedian, writer, actor, television presenter and personality. Jones came to national attention in the early 1980s for his work in the BBC television comedy sketch shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones along with his comedy partner Mel Smith...

, and Ewen Bremner
Ewen Bremner
-Early life:Bremner was born in Edinburgh, the son of two art teachers. He attended Davidson's Mains Primary School and Portobello High School. He originally wanted to be a circus clown, but was offered a chance in show business by television director Richard D. Brooks. One of his first notable...

. The action is transposed to a modern and bleak urban world.

A film version of As You Like It
As You Like It (2006 film)
As You Like It is a 2006 film directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is based on the play As You Like It by William Shakespeare. The play's setting is relocated from medieval France to a European colony in late 19th century Japan after the Meiji Restoration. It was shot at Shepperton Film Studios and on...

, set in 19th-century Japan, was released in 2006, directed by Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor and film director from Northern Ireland. He is best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's plays including Henry V , Much Ado About Nothing , Hamlet Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor and film director from...

. It stars Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas Howard
Bryce Dallas Howard is an American film actress and daughter of director Ron Howard. She made her acting debut in her father's 1989 movie Parenthood and went on to have small roles in films and make stage appearances for the next several years...

, David Oyelowo
David Oyelowo
- Background :Oyelowo was born in Oxford, England of Nigerian descent. He is married to actress Jessica Oyelowo and they have three sons.Oyelowo first attended a youth theatre after being invited by a girl to whom he was attracted. He then studied Theatre Studies for A level and his teacher...

, Romola Garai
Romola Garai
Romola Sadie Garai is an English actress. She is known for appearing in the movies Amazing Grace, Atonement, and Glorious 39, and for appearing in the BBC adaptation of Emma.-Early life:...

, Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina is a British-born American actor. He first came to public attention in the UK for his supporting role in the 1987 film Prick Up Your Ears...

, Kevin Kline
Kevin Kline
Kevin Delaney Kline is an American theatre, voice, film actor and comedian. He has won an Academy Award and two Tony Awards, and has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards and an Emmy Award.- Early life :...

, and Brian Blessed
Brian Blessed
Brian Blessed is an English actor, known for his sonorous voice and "hearty, king-sized portrayals".-Early life:The son of William Blessed, a socialist miner, and Hilda Wall, Blessed was born in the town of Goldthorpe, West Riding of Yorkshire, England...

. Although it was actually made for cinemas, it was released to theatres only in Europe, and had its U.S. premiere on HBO in 2007. And although it was not a made-for-television film, Kevin Kline won a Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild
The Screen Actors Guild is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide...

 award for Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries, for his performance as Jaques.

Musical theatre


Daniel Aquisito and Sammy Buck adapted this play into an 1980s themed musical entitled Like You Like It.

Graphic novel


A manga
Manga
Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...

-style graphic novel was released in January 2009 by Self-Made Hero publishers, where the setting of the Forest of Arden has been transposed to modern-day China. The story has been adapted by Richard Appignanesi and features the illustrations of Chie Kutsuwada.

External links


  • Text of As You Like It, fully edited by David Bevington
    David Bevington
    David Martin Bevington is an American literary scholar. He is Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and in English Language & Literature, Comparative Literature, and the College at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1967, as well as chair of Theatre and Performance Studies...

    , as well as original-spelling texts, facsimiles of the 1623 Folio text, and other resources, at the Internet Shakespeare Editions
  • As You Like It – searchable e-text
  • As You Like It – HTML version of this title.
  • As You Like It – plain vanilla text from Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

  • MaximumEdge.com – scene-indexed, searchable version of the play
  • "Character of Life" in As You Like It on Humanscience wikia
  • Lesson plans for As You Like It at Web English Teacher
  • "Variations on a Theme of Love" introduction to the play and pastoral comedy as a genre