Knowledge is the key to immortality
|AS YOU LIKE IT, SUMMARY, CHARACTERS, THEMES AND QUESTIONS|
|Prepared by Dr. Baburam Swami - Assistant Professor - English|
When was the play , As You Like It first published?
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 and first published in the First Folio in 1623.
Why is it called as you like it?
Shakespeare's company was originally called The Lord Chamberlain's Men and then, under King James, The King's Men. In a very real sense, this meant that his job was to please his wealthy and powerful patrons at court. "As You Like It" has some symbolic meanings, too, depending on your interpretation of the play.
What is the theme of this comedy?
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. Rosalind and her cousin escape into the forest and find Orlando, Rosalind's love. Disguised as a boy shepherd, Rosalind has Orlando woo her under the guise of "curing" him of his love for Rosalind. Rosalind reveals she is a girl and marries Orlando during a group wedding at the end of the play.
What is the story of As You Like It?
William Shakespeare's As You Like It, is a comedy thought to have been written in 1599. It follows the story of Rosalind, a heroine fleeing persecution. The play contains some of Shakespeare's most famous and well-known lines, many spoken by a character she meets in the Forest of Arden, Jacque
As You Like It is one of the best romantic comedies of Shakespeare. In a romantic comedy, romantic and comic elements are mingled. The romantic elements delight and thrill, the comic elements make us laugh and forget our anxieties. Emotions, imaginations and fancy are common phenomenon of romantic comedy. As You Like It keeps us laughing most of the time, despite some saddling incidents in it. The laughter is aroused in us by Rosalind, Celia, by Touchstone, by Jaques.
There are some criteria of romantic comedy. They are first sight love, influence of nature, supernatural elements, role of forest, the romantic setting, happy ending and so on. In As You Like It, we see the first sight love between Rosalind and Orlando. The central theme of this play is love and marriage. This is the youthful love of Rosalind and Orlando. In romantic play nature plays a vital role. Nature dominates the human life. In As You Like It, we see the forest of Arden. Gradually all the characters come to the forest. Romantic comedy starts with love. There is a obstacle in the middle and a happy ending. According to Shakespeare, the course of true lover never did run smooth.
Jaques’ speech about the seven period of a man’s life shows his cynical wit.
All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exists and their entrances
The disguised shape of Rosalind and Celia is humorous and comical. In romantic comedy, we see a mixer of romantic and comic elements. As You Like It fulfilment main criteria of romantic comedy.
SUMMARY OF THEPLAY AS YOU LIKE IT
Sir Rowland de Bois has recently died, and, according to the custom of primogeniture, the vast majority of his estate has passed into the possession of his eldest son, Oliver. Although Sir Rowland has instructed Oliver to take good care of his brother, Orlando, Oliver refuses to do so. Out of pure spite, he denies Orlando the education, training, and property befitting a gentleman. Charles, a wrestler from the court of Duke Frederick, arrives to warn Oliver of a rumour that Orlando will challenge Charles to a fight on the following day. Fearing censure if he should beat a nobleman, Charles begs Oliver to intervene, but Oliver convinces the wrestler that Orlando is a dishonourable sportsman who will take whatever dastardly means necessary to win. Charles vows to pummel Orlando, which delights Oliver.
Duke Senior has been usurped of his throne by his brother, Duke Frederick, and has fled to the Forest of Ardenne, where he lives like Robin Hood with a band of loyal followers. Duke Frederick allows Senior’s daughter, Rosalind, to remain at court because of her inseparable friendship with his own daughter, Celia. The day arrives when Orlando is scheduled to fight Charles, and the women witness Orlando’s defeat of the court wrestler. Orlando and Rosalind instantly fall in love with one another, though Rosalind keeps this fact a secret from everyone but Celia. Orlando returns home from the wrestling match, only to have his faithful servant Adam warn him about Oliver’s plot against Orlando’s life. Orlando decides to leave for the safety of Ardenne. Without warning, Duke Frederick has a change of heart regarding Rosalind and banishes her from court. She, too, decides to flee to the Forest of Ardenne and leaves with Celia, who cannot bear to be without Rosalind, and Touchstone, the court jester. To ensure the safety of their journey, Rosalind assumes the dress of a young man and takes the name Ganymede, while Celia dresses as a common shepherdess and calls herself Aliena.
Duke Frederick is furious at his daughter’s disappearance. When he learns that the flight of his daughter and niece coincides with the disappearance of Orlando, the duke orders Oliver to lead the manhunt, threatening to confiscate Oliver’s lands and property should he fail. Frederick also decides it is time to destroy his brother once and for all and begins to raise an army.
Duke Senior lives in the Forest of Ardenne with a band of lords who have gone into voluntary exile. He praises the simple life among the trees, happy to be absent from the machinations of court life. Orlando, exhausted by travel and desperate to find food for his starving companion, Adam, barges in on the duke’s camp and rudely demands that they not eat until he is given food. Duke Senior calms Orlando and, when he learns that the young man is the son of his dear former friend, accepts him into his company. Meanwhile, Rosalind and Celia, disguised as Ganymede and Aliena, arrive in the forest and meet a lovesick young shepherd named Silvius who pines away for the disdainful Phoebe. The two women purchase a modest cottage, and soon enough Rosalind runs into the equally lovesick Orlando. Taking her to be a young man, Orlando confides in Rosalind that his affections are overpowering him. Rosalind, as Ganymede, claims to be an expert in exorcising such emotions and promises to cure Orlando of lovesickness if he agrees to pretend that Ganymede is Rosalind and promises to come woo her every day. Orlando agrees, and the love lessons begin.
Meanwhile, Phoebe becomes increasingly cruel in her rejection of Silvius. When Rosalind intervenes, disguised as Ganymede, Phoebe falls hopelessly in love with Ganymede. One day, Orlando fails to show up for his tutorial with Ganymede. Rosalind, reacting to her infatuation with Orlando, is distraught until Oliver appears. Oliver describes how Orlando stumbled upon him in the forest and saved him from being devoured by a hungry lioness. Oliver and Celia, still disguised as the shepherdess Aliena, fall instantly in love and agree to marry. As time passes, Phoebe becomes increasingly insistent in her pursuit of Ganymede, and Orlando grows tired of pretending that a boy is his dear Rosalind. Rosalind decides to end the charade. She promises that Ganymede will wed Phoebe, if Ganymede will ever marry a woman, and she makes everyone pledge to meet the next day at the wedding. They all agree.
The day of the wedding arrives, and Rosalind gathers the various couples: Phoebe and Silvius; Celia and Oliver; Touchstone and Audrey, a goatherd he intends to marry; and Orlando. The group congregates before Duke Senior and his men. Rosalind, still disguised as Ganymede, reminds the lovers of their various vows, then secures a promise from Phoebe that if for some reason she refuses to marry Ganymede she will marry Silvius, and a promise from the duke that he would allow his daughter to marry Orlando if she were available. Rosalind leaves with the disguised Celia, and the two soon return as themselves, accompanied by Hymen, the god of marriage. Hymen officiates at the ceremony and marries Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Phoebe and Silvius, and Audrey and Touchstone. The festive wedding celebration is interrupted by even more festive news: while marching with his army to attack Duke Senior, Duke Frederick came upon a holy man who convinced him to put aside his worldly concerns and assume a monastic life. -Frederick changes his ways and returns the throne to Duke Senior. The guests continue dancing, happy in the knowledge that they will soon return to the royal court.
CHARACTER OF ROSALIND
Rosalind dominates As You Like It. So fully realized is she in the complexity of her emotions, the subtlety of her thought, and the fullness of her character that no one else in the play matches up to her. Orlando is handsome, strong, and an affectionate, if unskilled, poet, yet still we feel that Rosalind settles for someone slightly less magnificent when she chooses him as her mate. Similarly, the observations of Touchstone and Jaques, who might shine more brightly in another play, seem rather dull whenever Rosalind takes the stage.
The endless appeal of watching Rosalind has much to do with her success as a knowledgeable and charming critic of herself and others. But unlike Jaques, who refuses to participate wholly in life but has much to say about the foolishness of those who surround him, Rosalind gives herself over fully to circumstance. She chastises Silvius for his irrational devotion to Phoebe, and she challenges Orlando’s thoughtless equation of Rosalind with a Platonic ideal, but still she comes undone by her lover’s inconsequential tardiness and faints at the sight of his blood. That Rosalind can play both sides of any field makes her identifiable to nearly everyone, and so, irresistible.
Rosalind is a particular favourite among feminist critics, who admire her ability to subvert the limitations that society imposes on her as a woman. With boldness and imagination, she disguises herself as a young man for the majority of the play in order to woo the man she loves and instruct him in how to be a more accomplished, attentive lover—a tutorship that would not be welcome from a woman. There is endless comic appeal in Rosalind’s lampooning of the conventions of both male and female behaviour, but an Elizabethan audience might have felt a certain amount of anxiety regarding her behaviour. After all, the structure of a male-dominated society depends upon both men and women acting in their assigned roles. Thus, in the end, Rosalind dispenses with the charade of her own character. Her emergence as an actor in the Epilogue assures that theatre goers, like the Ardenne foresters, are about to exit a somewhat enchanted realm and return to the familiar world they left behind. But because they leave having learned the same lessons from Rosalind, they do so with the same potential to make that world a less punishing place.
CHARACTER OF ORLANDO
According to his brother, Oliver, Orlando is of noble character, unschooled yet somehow learned, full of noble purposes, and loved by people of all ranks as if he had enchanted them (I.i.141–144). Although this description comes from the one character who hates Orlando and wishes him harm, it is an apt and generous picture of the hero of As You Like It. Orlando has a brave and generous spirit, though he does not possess Rosalind’s wit and insight. As his love tutorial shows, he relies on commonplace clichés in matters of love, declaring that without the fair Rosalind, he would die. He does have a decent wit, however, as he demonstrates when he argues with Jaques, suggesting that Jaques should seek out a fool who wanders about the forest: “He is drowned in the brook. Look but in, and you shall see him,” meaning that Jaques will see a fool in his own reflection (III.ii.262–263). But next to Rosalind, Orlando’s imagination burns a bit less bright. This upstaging is no fault of Orlando’s, given the fullness of Rosalind’s character; Shakespeare clearly intends his audience to delight in the match. Time and again, Orlando performs tasks that reveal his nobility and demonstrate why he is so well-loved: he travels with the ancient Adam and makes a fool out of himself to secure the old man food; he risks his life to save the brother who has plotted against him; he cannot help but violate the many trees of Ardenne with testaments of his love for Rosalind. In the beginning of the play, he laments that his brother has denied him the schooling deserved by a gentleman, but by the end, he has proven himself a gentleman without the formality of that education.
CHARACTER OF ROSALIND DUKE SENIOR
The father of Rosalind and the rightful ruler of the dukedom in which the play is set. Having been banished by his usurping brother, Frederick, Duke Senior now lives in exile in the Forest of Ardenne with a number of loyal men, including Lord Amiens and Jaques. We have the sense that Senior did not put up much of a fight to keep his dukedom, for he seems to make the most of whatever life gives him. Content in the forest, where he claims to learn as much from stones and brooks as he would in a church or library, Duke Senior proves himself to be a kind and fair-minded ruler.
CHARACTER OF JAQUES
A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Jaques is an example of a stock figure in Elizabethan comedy, the man possessed of a hopelessly melancholy disposition. Much like a referee in a football game, he stands on the sidelines, watching and judging the actions of the other characters without ever fully participating. Given his inability to participate in life, it is fitting that Jaques alone refuses to follow Duke Senior and the other courtiers back to court, and instead resolves to assume a solitary and contemplative life in a monastery.
CHARACTER OF CELIA
The daughter of Duke Frederick and Rosalind’s dearest friend. Celia’s devotion to Rosalind is unmatched, as evidenced by her decision to follow her cousin into exile. To make the trip, Celia assumes the disguise of a simple shepherdess and calls herself Aliena. As elucidated by her extreme love of Rosalind and her immediate devotion to Oliver, whom she marries at the end of the play, Celia possesses a loving heart, but is prone to deep, almost excessive emotions.
CHARACTER OF DUKE FREDERICK
The brother of Duke Senior and usurper of his throne. Duke Frederick’s cruel nature and volatile temper are displayed when he banishes his niece, Rosalind, from court without reason. That Celia, his own daughter, cannot mitigate his unfounded anger demonstrates the intensity of the duke’s hatefulness. Frederick mounts an army against his exiled brother but aborts his vengeful mission after he meets an old religious man on the road to the Forest of Ardenne. He immediately changes his ways, dedicating himself to a monastic life and returning the crown to his brother, thus testifying to the ease and elegance with which humans can sometimes change for the better.
CHARACTER OF TOUCHSTONE
A clown in Duke Frederick’s court who accompanies Rosalind and Celia in their flight to Ardenne. Although Touchstone’s job, as fool, is to criticize the behavior and point out the folly of those around him, Touchstone fails to do so with even a fraction of Rosalind’s grace. Next to his mistress, the clown seems hopelessly vulgar and narrow-minded. Almost every line he speaks echoes with bawdy innuendo.
CHARACTER OF OLIVER
The oldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and sole inheritor of the de Bois estate. Oliver is a loveless young man who begrudges his brother, Orlando, a gentleman’s education. He admits to hating Orlando without cause or reason and goes to great lengths to ensure his brother’s downfall. When Duke Frederick employs Oliver to find his missing brother, Oliver finds himself living in despair in the Forest of Ardenne, where Orlando saves his life. This display of undeserved generosity prompts Oliver to change himself into a better, more loving person. His transformation is evidenced by his love for the disguised Celia, whom he takes to be a simple shepherdess.
CHARACTER OF SILVIUS
A young, suffering shepherd, who is desperately in love with the disdainful Phoebe. Conforming to the model of Petrarchan love, Silvius prostrates himself before a woman who refuses to return his affections. In the end, however, he wins the object of his desire.
CHARACTER OF PHOEBE
A young shepherdess, who disdains the affections of Silvius. She falls in love with Ganymede, who is really Rosalind in disguise, but Rosalind tricks Phoebe into marrying Silvius.
CHARACTER OF LORD AMIENS
A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Lord Amiens is rather jolly and loves to sing.
CHARACTER OF CHARLES
A professional wrestler in Duke Frederick’s court. Charles demonstrates both his caring nature and his political savvy when he asks Oliver to intercede in his upcoming fight with Orlando: he does not want to injure the young man and thereby lose favor among the nobles who support him. Charles’s concern for Orlando proves unwarranted when Orlando beats him senseless.
CHARACTER OF ADAM
The elderly former servant of Sir Rowland de Bois. Having witnessed Orlando’s hardships, Adam offers not only to accompany his young master into exile but to fund their journey with the whole of his modest life’s savings. He is a model of loyalty and devoted service.
CHARACTER OF SIR ROWLAND DE BOIS
The father of Oliver and Orlando, friend of Duke Senior, and enemy of Duke Frederick. Upon Sir Rowland’s death, the vast majority of his estate was handed over to Oliver according to the custom of primogeniture.
CHARACTER OF CORIN
A shepherd. Corin attempts to counsel his friend Silvius in the ways of love, but Silvius refuses to listen.
CHARACTER OF AUDREY
A simpleminded goatherd who agrees to marry Touchstone.
CHARACTER OF WILLIAM
A young country boy who is in love with Audrey.
THEMES ARE THE FUNDAMENTAL AND OFTEN UNIVERSAL IDEAS EXPLORED IN A LITERARY WORK.
THE DELIGHTS OF LOVE
As You Like It spoofs many of the conventions of poetry and literature dealing with love, such as the idea that love is a disease that brings suffering and torment to the lover, or the assumption that the male lover is the slave or servant of his mistress. These ideas are central features of the courtly love tradition, which greatly influenced European literature for hundreds of years before Shakespeare’s time. In As You Like It, characters lament the suffering caused by their love, but these laments are all unconvincing and ridiculous. While Orlando’s metrically incompetent poems conform to the notion that he should “live and die [Rosalind’s] slave,” these sentiments are roundly ridiculed (III.ii.142). Even Silvius, the untutored shepherd, assumes the role of the tortured lover, asking his beloved Phoebe to notice “the wounds invisible / That love’s keen arrows make” (III.v.31–32). But Silvius’s request for Phoebe’s attention implies that the enslaved lover can loosen the chains of love and that all romantic wounds can be healed—otherwise, his request for notice would be pointless. In general, As You Like It breaks with the courtly love tradition by portraying love as a force for happiness and fulfillment and ridicules those who revel in their own suffering.
Celia speaks to the curative powers of love in her introductory scene with Rosalind, in which she implores her cousin to allow “the full weight” of her love to push aside Rosalind’s unhappy thoughts (I.ii.6). As soon as Rosalind takes to Ardenne, she displays her own copious knowledge of the ways of love. Disguised as Ganymede, she tutors Orlando in how to be a more attentive and caring lover, counsels Silvius against prostrating himself for the sake of the all-too-human Phoebe, and scolds Phoebe for her arrogance in playing the shepherd’s disdainful love object. When Rosalind famously insists that “[m]en have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love,” she argues against the notion that love concerns the perfect, mythic, or unattainable (IV.i.91–92). Unlike Jaques and Touchstone, both of whom have keen eyes and biting tongues trained on the follies of romance, Rosalind does not mean to disparage love. On the contrary, she seeks to teach a version of love that not only can survive in the real world, but can bring delight as well. By the end of the play, having successfully orchestrated four marriages and ensured the happy and peaceful return of a more just government, Rosalind proves that love is a source of incomparable delight.
The Malleability of the Human Experience
In Act II, scene vii, Jaques philosophizes on the stages of human life: man passes from infancy into boyhood; becomes a lover, a soldier, and a wise civic leader; and then, year by year, becomes a bit more foolish until he is returned to his “second childishness and mere oblivion” (II.vii.164). Jaques’s speech remains an eloquent commentary on how quickly and thoroughly human beings can change, and, indeed, do change in As You Like It. Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, those who enter the Forest of Ardenne are often remarkably different when they leave. The most dramatic and unmistakable change, of course, occurs when Rosalind assumes the disguise of Ganymede. As a young man, Rosalind demonstrates how vulnerable to change men and women truly are. Orlando, of course, is putty in her hands; more impressive, however, is her ability to manipulate Phoebe’s affections, which move from Ganymede to the once despised Silvius with amazing speed.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare dispenses with the time--consuming and often hard-won processes involved in change. The characters do not struggle to become more pliant—their changes are instantaneous. Oliver, for instance, learns to love both his brother Orlando and a disguised Celia within moments of setting foot in the forest. Furthermore, the vengeful and ambitious Duke Frederick abandons all thoughts of fratricide after a single conversation with a religious old man. Certainly, these transformations have much to do with the restorative, almost magical effects of life in the forest, but the consequences of the changes also matter in the real world: the government that rules the French duchy, for example, will be more just under the rightful ruler Duke Senior, while the class structures inherent in court life promise to be somewhat less rigid after the courtiers sojourn in the forest. These social reforms are a clear improvement and result from the more private reforms of the play’s characters. As You Like It not only insists that people can and do change, but also celebrates their ability to change for the better.
CITY LIFE VERSUS COUNTRY LIFE
Pastoral literature thrives on the contrast between life in the city and life in the country. Often, it suggests that the oppressions of the city can be remedied by a trip into the country’s therapeutic woods and fields, and that a person’s sense of balance and rightness can be restored by conversations with uncorrupted shepherds and shepherdesses. This type of restoration, in turn, enables one to return to the city a better person, capable of making the most of urban life. Although Shakespeare tests the bounds of these conventions—his shepherdess Audrey, for instance, is neither articulate nor pure—he begins As You Like It by establishing the city/country dichotomy on which the pastoral mood depends. In Act I, scene i, Orlando rails against the injustices of life with Oliver and complains that he “know[s] no wise remedy how to avoid it” (I.i.20–21). Later in that scene, as Charles relates the whereabouts of Duke Senior and his followers, the remedy is clear: “in the forest of Ardenne . . . many young gentlemen . . . fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world” (I.i.99–103). Indeed, many are healed in the forest—the lovesick are coupled with their lovers and the usurped duke returns to his throne—but Shakespeare reminds us that life in Ardenne is a temporary affair. As the characters prepare to return to life at court, the play does not laud country over city or vice versa, but instead suggests a delicate and necessary balance between the two. The simplicity of the forest provides shelter from the strains of the court, but it also creates the need for urban style and sophistication: one would not do, or even matter, without the other.
Shakespeare ends “As You Like It,” by having Rosalind say this to the audience:
I charge you, O women, for the love
you bear to men, to like as much of this play as
please you: and I charge you, O men, for the love
you bear to women--as I perceive by your simpering,
none of you hates them--that between you and the
women the play may please.
This is similar to the end of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," in which Puck tells the audience,
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
Famously, "Henry V" begins with this apology:
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million...
And he subtitled "Twelfth Night," one of his other romantic comedies, "What You Will," which means pretty much the same thing as "As You Like It."
"Henry IV, Part II" is a notable example, because Shakespeare seems to have ended it with as speech he read himself:
My fear is, your displeasure; my courtesy, my duty;
and my speech, to beg your pardons. If you look
for a good speech now, you undo me: for what I have
to say is of mine own making; and what indeed I
should say will, I doubt, prove mine own marring.
But to the purpose, and so to the venture. Be it
known to you, as it is very well, I was lately here
in the end of a displeasing play, to pray your
patience for it and to promise you a better. I
meant indeed to pay you with this; which, if like an
ill venture it come unluckily home, I break, and
you, my gentle creditors, lose.
Shakespeare ended his last major play, "The Tempest," by having his main character, Prospero, possibly a stand-in for himself, beg for applause in a kind of "if you believe in Tinkerbell" move:
Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
Theatres at the time survived by being sponsored. Shakespeare's company was originally called The Lord Chamberlain's Men and then, under King James, The King's Men. In a very real sense, this meant that his job was to please his wealthy and powerful patrons at court.
"As You Like It" has some symbolic meanings, too, depending on your interpretation of the play. It's a story about gender confusion and and other themes that question what pleases us. But at least on a surface level, this sort of modest (or falsely modest?) title was a trend at the time.
SHORT SUMMARY ACTWISE
Orlando, the youngest son of the recently-deceased Sir Roland de Boys, is treated harshly by his eldest brother, Oliver. Bitter and angry, Orlando challenges the court wrestler, Charles, to a fight. When Oliver learns of the fight, Oliver tells Charles to injure Orlando if possible.
Duke Frederick has recently deposed his brother, Duke Senior, as head of the court. But he allowed Senior's daughter, Rosalind, to remain, and she and Celia, the new Duke's daughter, watch the wrestling competition. During the match, Rosalind falls in love with Orlando, who beats Charles. Rosalind gives Orlando a chain to wear; in turn, he is overcome with love.
Shortly after, Orlando is warned of his brother's plot against him and seeks refuge in the Forest of Arden. At the same time, and seemingly without cause, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind. She decides to seek shelter in the Forest of Arden with Celia. They both disguise themselves: Rosalind as the young man Ganymede and Celia as his shepherdess sister Aliena. Touchstone, the court fool, also goes with them.
In the Forest of Arden, the weary cousins happen upon Silvius, a lovesick shepherd. Silvius was in the act of declaring his feelings for Phoebe, a scornful shepherdess. Ganymede buys the lease to the property of an old shepherd who needs someone to manage his estate. Ganymede and Aliena set up home in the forest. Not far away, and unaware of the newcomers, Duke Senior is living a simple outdoor life with his fellow exiled courtiers and huntsmen. Their merriment is interrupted by the arrival of Orlando, who seeks nourishment for himself and his servant. The two men are welcomed by the outlaw courtiers.
Ganymede and Aliena find verses addressed to Rosalind hung on the forest branches by Orlando. Ganymede finds Orlando and proposes to cure Orlando of his love. To do this, Orlando will woo Ganymede as if he were Rosalind (even though "he" really is . . . Rosalind). Orlando consents and visits Ganymede/Rosalind every day for his lessons. In the meantime, the shepherdess Phoebe has fallen for Ganymede while the shepherd Silvius still pursues her. Furthermore, Touchstone, the court fool, has dazzled a country girl, Audrey, with his courtly manners. Audrey deserts her young suitor, William, for him.
All the world's a stage.
When Duke Frederick hears Orlando disappeared at the same time as Rosalind and Celia, he orders Oliver to the forest to seek his brother. In the forest, Orlando saves Oliver's life, injuring his arm in the process. Oliver runs into Ganymede and Aliena in the forest and relates this news. Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede) is overcome with her feelings for Orlando. Celia (disguised as Aliena) and Oliver quickly fall in love with one another. Rosalind decides that it is time to end her game with Orlando and devises a plan in which everyone will get married.
As Ganymede, Rosalind promises Phoebe that they will marry, Celia will marry Oliver, Touchstone will marry Audrey, and Orlando will marry Rosalind. She makes Phoebe promise that if they, for some reason, don't get married, Phoebe will marry Silvius instead.
On the day of the wedding, and with the help of the god Hymen, Rosalind reappears in her female clothes. Duke Senior gives her away to Orlando, while Phoebe accepts Silvius. Orlando's other older brother returns from college with the news that Celia's father, Duke Ferdinand, has left court to become a hermit. Thus, everyone is happy (except maybe Phoebe, who marries someone she doesn't love and Silvius, who marries someone who doesn't love him). The play ends with a joyful dance to celebrate the four marriages.
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