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AS YOU LIKE IT. by William Shakespeare (1599-1600). Opening suggests a dark world, not a comedy. Begins at a corrupt and suspicious court Two warring brothers, one is lovable (Orlando) and the other “altogether misprised ” (Oliver)

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As you like it


by William Shakespeare(1599-1600)

Opening suggests a dark world not a comedy

Opening suggests a dark world, not a comedy

  • Begins at a corrupt and suspicious court

  • Two warring brothers, one is lovable (Orlando) and the other “altogether misprised” (Oliver)

  • Their enmnity is mirrored by the usurpation of Duke Senior by his brother Duke Frederick

  • The “good” brothers are banished to the forest

Shakespeare s comedies often begin this way

Shakespeare’s comedies often begin this way

  • Ultimately, we are guided to the play’s heroine ROSALIND

  • The play’s action concerns itself with ‘coupling’ (four couples are wed at the end of the play)

  • One of the happiest of comedies

    • Brothers are reconciled

    • Legitimacy and prosperity is restored

    • The evil convert

    • Each lover is appropriately matched

Significance of setting

Significance of setting

  • Play’s action is set in the Forest of Arden in Warwichshire

  • Shakespeare’s mother’s name was Arden

  • The play suggests both French and English characters and places…seemingly nowhere and everywhere

  • A magical place where anything can happen

Your if is the only peacemaker

Your If is the only peacemaker…

  • Rosalind invites Orlando to imagine his life IF he had not met “your very very Rosalind”

  • She poses and solves a complex set of riddles at the climax

    • IF

    • IF I CAN

    • IF I COULD




Villains are miraculously changed

Villains are miraculously changed

  • Oliver tells Celia “Twas I. But ‘tis not I.”

  • Like Eden, Arden is not wholly safe

  • Arden is cold and people must hunt for food

  • Lions and snakes threaten sudden death

  • It is threatened with invasion from the usurping Duke

Setting is pastoral

Setting is pastoral

  • Except for Corin, nobody seems to work

  • All can find plenty of time to sing, philosophize and fall in love

  • It is not, however, an alternative to civilization. It is “nature” as opposed to “culture”

  • Perhaps Shakespeare is parodying the pastoral excesses of writers like Philip Sidney in works such as ARCADIA (1590)

  • It is not simply a play, it is a play about how people write about love

Act One, The Wresling MatchA 19th century painting

Sources for the play

Sources for the play

  • Thomas Lodge wrote ROSALYNDE, EUPHUES’ GOLDEN LEGACIE in 1590 and Shakespeare borrows freely from its characters and plot

  • He excises a bloody battle between the feuding dukes and replaces it with Frederick’s conversion and retirement

  • He invents the characters of Jacques, Touchstone and Audrey

  • John Lyly wrote EUPHUES, THE ANATOMY OF WIT (1579)

  • The previously mentioned ARCADIA (1590)

A musical world

A musical world

  • Play contains more songs than any other Shakespeare play

  • Most famous is “It was a lover and his lass” (V.3)

  • The song was arranged and published by Thomas Morley in 1600

Lovers grow up

Lovers grow up

  • Rosalind and Orlando escape the gloom, confinement and danger of court by escaping to the forest…and growing up

  • This requires Rosalind and Orlando; Celia and Oliver to move from the family they were born into to the family one starts and presides over “from one’s father to one’s child’s father” (1.3)

  • As with Ophelia (Hamlet), Cordelia (King Lear) and Desdemona (Othello), Rosalind’s relationship with her father is changed

Shakespeare’s Globe

Theatre Production, 2010

Celia and rosalind

Celia and Rosalind

  • As both separate from their father’s; they also outgrow their friendship

  • The threat to marriage is not only Rosalind’s attachment to Celia, but also Orlando’s attachment to Ganymede (the homo-erotic theme described by some)

  • Further expressed by Rosalind taking on the identity of Ganymede (Jove’s cupbearer and “lover”)



  • Rosalind as Ganymede

  • Celia “darkens” her face to be seen as less “fair”

  • Ganymede seems to relish being a man…as a woman, she could not buy property, but as a man she buys a “cottage, pasture and flock”

  • Rosalind’s disguise seems to enhance her confidence while doing the opposite to Celia

  • Still Rosalind does woo Orlando, not girl to boy, but man to man

  • Perhaps these disguises are simply pragmatic since boys played the female roles in Elizabethan theatre

Four couples rosalind and orlando

Four couplesRosalind and Orlando

Marriage offers a different kind of ending, as well as a different kind of beginning for four couples

Four couples celia and oliver

Four couplesCelia and Oliver

Four couples audrey and touchstone

Four couplesAudrey and Touchstone

Four couples phebe and silvius

Four couplesPhebe and Silvius

Marriage offers a different kind of ending, as well as a different kind of beginning, for each of the four couples

All the world s a stage

All the world’s a stage…

  • Jacques speech from Act Two, scene 7 is rightly one of the most famous in all of Shakespeare

  • Of the SEVEN AGES, only one really relates to the action of the play…

    And then the loverSighing like furnace, with a woeful balladMade to his mistress’ eyebrow

    Jacques (and Adam) help to put the marriages into perspective

First printed edition

First printed edition

  • Folio edition, 1623

  • Production was entered into the Stationers Register by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men as one of four plays “to be staied” (withheld from publication)

On film

On Film

As You Like It (2006)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Brian BlessedDuke Senior & Duke Frederick

Bryce Dallas HowardRosalindDavid OyelowoOrlando De BoysRichard BriersAdam

Patrick DoyleAmiens

Romola GaraiCelia

Adrian LesterOliver De Boys

Alfred MolinaTouchstone

Kevin KlineJaques

Janet McTeerAudrey

1936 film

1936 Film

Director:Paul Czinner

Writers:William Shakespeare (play)J.M. Barrie (treatment)Robert Cullen (scenario)Carl Mayer (adaptation)

Cast:Henry Ainley Exiled Duke

Elisabeth Bergner Rosalind

Felix Aylmer Duke Frederick

Laurence Olivier Orlando

Leon QuartermaineJacques

As you like it

As You Like It(1987 - BBC)

Director: Basil Coleman

Helen MirrenRosalindBrian StirnerOrlandoRichard PascoJaquesAngharadReesCelia

James BolamTouchstoneClive FrancisOliverRichard EastonDuke FrederickTony ChurchDuke Senior

As you like it

'As You Like It' at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (2010) 149 min

Directed by TheaSharrock

Michael BenzSilvius

Philip BirdDuke Senior

Sophie DuvalAudrey

Naomi FrederickRosalind

Brendan HughesDuke Frederick

Jack LaskeyOrlando de Boys

Trevor MartinAdam

Tim McMullanJacques

Jamie ParkerOliver de Boys

Laura RogersCelia

Dominic RowanTouchstone

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