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As You Like It William Shakespeare

Themes, Motifs & Symbols Themes 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 Shakespeares time. In As You Like It, characters lament the suffering caused by their love, but these laments are all unconvincing and ridiculous. While Orlandos metrically incompetent poems conform to the notion that he should live and die [Rosalinds] 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 loves keen arrows make (III.v.3132). But Silviuss request for Phoebes 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 Rosalinds 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 shepherds 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.9192). 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). Jaquess 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 Phoebes 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 plays 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 countrys therapeutic woods and fields, and that a persons 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 conventionshis shepherdess Audrey, for instance, is neither articulate nor purehe 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. 2021). 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 gentlem en . . . fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world (I.i.99103). Indeed, many are healed in the forestthe lovesick are coupled with their lovers and the usurped duke returns to his thronebut 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. Motifs Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the te xts major themes. Artifice As Orlando runs through the forest decorating every tree with love poems for Rosalind, and as Silvius pines for Phoebe and compares her cruel eyes to a murderer, we cannot help but notice the importance of artifice to life in Ardenne. Phoebe decries such artificiality when she laments that her eyes lack the power to do the devoted shepherd any real harm, and Rosalind similarly puts a stop to Orlandos romantic fussing when she reminds him that [m]en have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love (IV.i.91 92). Although Rosalind is susceptible to the contrivances of romantic love, as when her composure crumbles when Orlando is only minutes late for their appointment, she does her best to move herself and the others toward a more realistic understanding of love. Knowing that the excitement of the first days of courtship will flag, she warns Orlando that [m]aids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives (IV.i.125127). Here, Rosalind cautions against any love that sustains itself on artifice alone. She advocates a love that, while delightful, can survive in the real world. During the Epilogue, Rosalind returns the audience to reality by stripping away not only the artifice of Ardenne, but of her character as well. As the Elizabethan actor stands on the stage and reflects on this temporary foray into the unreal, the audiences experience comes to mirror the experience of the characters. The theater becomes Ardenne, the artful means of edifying us for our journey into the world in which we live. Homoeroticism Like many of Shakespeares plays and poems, As You Like It explores different kinds of love between members of the same sex. Celia and Rosalind, for instance, are extremely close friends almost sistersand the profound intimacy of their relationship seems at times more intense than that of ordinary friends. Indeed, Celias words in Act I, scenes ii and iii echo the protestations of lovers. But to assume that Celia or Rosalind possesses a sexual identity as clearly defined as our modern understandings of heterosexual or homosexual would be to work against the plays celebration of a range of intimacies and sexual possibilities. The other kind of homoeroticism within the play arises from Rosalinds cross -dressing. Everybody, male and female, seems to love Ganymede, the beautiful boy who looks like a woman because he is really Rosalind in disguise. The name Rosalind chooses for her alter ego, Ganymede, traditionally belonged to a beautiful boy who became one of Joves lovers, and the name carries strong homosexual connotations. Even though Orlando is supposed to be in love with Rosalind, he seems to enjoy the idea of acting out his romance with the beautiful, young boy Ganymedealmost as if a boy who looks like the woman he loves is even more appealing than the woman herself. Phoebe, too, is more attracted to the feminine Ganymede than to the real male, Silvius. In drawing on the motif of homoeroticism, As You Like It is influenced by the pastoral tradition, which typically contains elements of same-sex love. In the Forest of Ardenne, as in pastoral literature, homoerotic relationships are not necessarily antithetical to heterosexual couplings, as modern readers tend to assume.

Instead, homosexual and heterosexual love exists on a continuum across which, as the title of the play suggests, one can move as one likes. Exile As You Like It abounds in banishment. Some characters have been forcibly removed or threatened from their homes, such as Duke Senior, Rosalind, and Orlando. Some have voluntarily abandoned their positions out of a sense of rightness, such as Seniors loyal band of lords, Celia, and the noble servant Adam. It is, then, rather remarkable that the play ends with four marriages a ceremony that unites individuals into couples and ushers these couples into the community. The community that sings and dances its way through Ardenne at the close of Act V, scene iv, is the same community that will return to the dukedom in order to rule and be ruled. This event, where the poor dance in the company of royalty, suggests a utopian world in which wrongs can be righted and hurts healed. The sense of restoration with which the play ends depends upon the formation of a community of exiles in politics and love coming together to soothe their various wounds. Symbols Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. Orlandos Poems The poems that Orlando nails to the trees of Ardenne are a testament to his love for Rosalind. In comparing her to the romantic heroines of classical literature Helen, Cleopatra, LucretiaOrlando takes his place among a long line of poets who regard the love object as a bit of earthbound perfection. Much to the amusement of Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone, Orlandos efforts are far less accomplished than, say, Ovids, and so bring into sharp focus the silliness of which all lovers are guilty. Orlandos tedious homil[ies] of love stand as a reminder of the wide gap that exists between the fancies of literature and the kind of love that exists in the real world (III.ii.143). The Slain Deer In Act IV, scene ii, Jaques and other lords in Duke Seniors party kill a deer. Jaques proposes to set the deers horns upon [the hunters] head for a branch of victory (IV.ii.45). To an Elizabethan audience, however, the slain deer would have signaled more than just an accomplished archer. As the song that follows the lords return to camp makes clear, the deer placed atop the hunters head is a symbol of cuckoldry, commonly represented by a man with horns atop his head. Allusions to the cuckolded man run throughout the play, betraying one of the dominant anxieties of the age that women are sexually uncontrollableand pointing out the schism between ideal and imperfect love. Ganymede Rosalinds choice of alternative identities is significant. Ganymede is the cupbe arer and beloved of Jove and is a standard symbol of homosexual love. In the context of the play, her choice of an alter ego contributes to a continuum of sexual possibilities.

Imagery: Extended Metaphors


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Extended Metaphor: Act I


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.......In extended metaphors in Act 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 Naturesuch as nobility, foresight, courage, and wisdomhe 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. The extended metaphors, in the form of personifications, occur in Scene II in a discussion of Fortune and Nature between Celia and Rosalind:
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..............CELIA..Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune from ..............her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally. ..............ROSALIND..I would we could do so, for her benefits are ..............mightily misplaced, and the bountiful blind woman ..............doth most mistake in her gifts to women. ..............CELIA...'Tis true; for those that she makes fair she scarce ..............makes honest, and those that she makes honest she ..............makes very ill-favouredly. ..............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. . Extended Metaphor: Act II
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.......In Act II, in another extended metaphor, Shakespeare philosophizes through Jaques (spelled without c before the q), a lord in the service of Duke Senior. The metaphorical passagefocusing on "The Seven Ages of Man"is one of the most famous passages in all of Shakespeare. The passage is stunning poetry in fact, it is often included in anthologies as a separate poem demonstrating the remarkable power and beauty of Shakespeare's words. .......However, the passage is cynical and pessimistic in its metaphorical message, making 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 passage: Lines 139-166, Act II, Scene VII All the world's a stage,1 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, Sighing 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,7 In fair round belly with good capon lined,8 With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws9 and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank;10 and his big manly voice, 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, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

1. All the worlds a stage: This clause is the English translation of the Latin motto of the Globe Theatre: Totus mundus agit histrionem. The clause begins the extended metaphor in which the world becomes a stage and the peoplein various stages of their livesbecome the actors. 2. Ballad: Poem. 3. Bubble reputation: Fame is like a bubble: it develops quickly, then bursts. 4. Pard: Leopard or panther. 5. Even in the cannons mouth: To achieve fame, the soldier will even charge when enemy cannons are firing. 6. Justice . . . lined: Some judges in Shakespeares 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 favourable ruling. 7. Saws: Proverbs, maxims, aphorisms, sayings. 8. Pantaloon: Foolish old man. Pantaloons were stock characters in a type of Italian comedy called commedia dellarte, which became popular in the middle of the Sixteenth Century. Actors improvised their parts after receiving an outline of the plot. 9. Hose . . . shank: His knee-high stockings (hose) no longer fit his shrinking, withering shank (lower leg). 10. Second childishness: Senility. 11. Sans: French for without. (French pronunciation: sahn, spoken nasally; English pronunciation: sanz. Shakespeare used the latter.) 12. Custom: The experience of life in the forest. 13. Painted Pomp: Life at court, with all of its artificial trappings. 14. Penalty of Adam . . . wind: As descendants of Adam and inheritors of original sin, the men though they may live in a kind of Edendo feel the sting of a cold wind.

Other Figures of Speech


.......Following are examples of other figures of speech in the play. Alliteration

Repetition of a consonant sound

Stand you both forth now: stroke your chins, and swear by your beards that I am a knave. (Touchstone, 1.2.26) 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 of cattle; to be bawd to a bell-wether, and to betray a she-lamb (Touchstone, 3.2.35) Anaphora

Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause in successive groups of words

By my 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) 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. (Touchstone, 5.4.42) Metaphor
Comparison a thing to an unlike thing without using like, as, or than

My better parts Are all thrown down, and that which here stands up Is but a quintain, a mere lifeless block. (Orlando, 1.2.129-131)
Comparison of a man to a quintain, a practice target for knights wielding lances

I shall neer be ware of mine own wit till I break my s hins 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 Ill character, (Orlando, 3.2.5-6)
Comparison of trees to books and barks to pages of the books

Paradox

Contradiction that reveals a truth

O, what a world is this, when what is comely 16 Envenoms him that bears it! (Adam, 2.3.16-17)
That which is comely (attractive, beautiful) is poisonous.

Sweetest nut hath sourest rind (Touchstone, 3.2.41)


That which is sweet is also sour.

Personification

A metaphor that compares a thing to a person

.......In the following prose passage, beginning with line 123, Rosalind and Orlando speak of time as a person. ROSALIND. I pray you, what ist oclock? ORLANDO. You should ask me, what time o day; theres no clock in the forest. ROSALIND. Then there is no true lover in the forest; else sighing every minute and groaning every hour would detect the lazy foot of Time as well as a clock. ORLANDO. And why not the swift foot of Time? had not that been as proper? ROSALIND. By no means, sir. Time travels in divers paces with divers persons. Ill tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal, and who he stands still withal. ORLANDO. I prithee, who doth he trot withal? ROSALIND. Marry, 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 sennight, Times pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven year . ORLANDO. Who ambles Time withal? ROSALIND. With 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. ORLANDO. Who doth he gallop withal? ROSALIND. With a thief to the gallows; for though he go as softly as foot can fall he thinks himself too soon there. (3.2.121-131)

Biblical Allusions and Symbolism


.......It is 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. .......In Shakespeares play, Adam is an elderly servant who attempts to pacify Orlando and Oliveras if the biblical Adam had come alive to temper the anger between his sons. Shakespeares 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 in Act II, Scene I, when Duke Senior extols the carefree life of the forest: Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, Hath not old custom12 made this life more sweet Than that of painted pomp?13 Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious court? Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,14 The seasons difference, as the icy fang And churlish chiding of the winters wind. (3-9) .......It also appears that the Forest of Arden is the Garden of Eden a new Eden, sans serpentthat 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 saysin 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 intensifies.

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 to Bertram. 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, dons 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 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 females.