Students' Digest - William Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT

 As You Like It,(Written and performed about 1599 and first published in 1623) five-act comedy by English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, with its engaging characters, situations, and mix-ups, delights the theater goers. Based on the prose romance Rosalynde (1590) by Thomas Lodge, a pastoral romance of the sentimental type, Shakespeare’s As You Like It becomes a portrait of innocence rural life as well as a satire on the conventional sentimental pastoral comedy. Again Shakespeare transforms Lodge's sentimental Rosalynde into the witty, strong, and warm-hearted main character Rosalind


Helen Miller acting as Rosalind
 The theme is a series of variations of love at first sight. We find so many love pairs here:  Rosalind and Orlando, Phoebe and Rosalind, Silvius and Phoebe, Oliver and Celia, Audrey, William, and Touchstone. Again contrast is an abiding theme of the play. The action is set in the contrasting arenas of the English court, with its strict ritual and predictability; and the deep forest (Arden), where the constraints of everyday life vanish. Two of the play’s characters, who do not have a basis in Lodge’s work, are a study in contrast as well. One is Touchstone, the jester; the other is the melancholy Jacques, a representative of the malcontent spirit. The play is also an observation about the deceptive nature of appearances; Rosalind disguises herself as a man (Ganymede) in order to woo her love, Orlando, and manages to attract the amorous attention of Phebe. Interestingly, several key scenes between Rosalind and Orlando are in prose, rather than verse.




The five acts might be summed up as

(I)         Betrayal & Banishment, courtly life  
(II)        Disguise in the forest,
(IV)      The advent of Oliver, and
(V)       The solution and happiness all around with merry wedding.



Much of the charm of As You Like It is the atmosphere of the forest Arden, in which a good deal of the action takes place accompanied by song. Audiences respond to the forest setting in this comedy. They like the songs. Under the Greenwood Tree; Blow, Blow, thou Winter Wind; what shall he have that Killed the Deer? It Was a Lover and his Lass; and Wedding is Great Juno’s Crown should be sung. Lines like “Sweet are the uses of adversity” in Act II, Scene 1, and "All the world’s a stage," in Act II, Scene 7, is immortal.


There are many interesting and vital subjects to discuss throughout the play: girlhood - friendships (Celia and Rosalind); devotion of servitors (Adam and Orlando); the cynical Point of view (Jacques); violent crushes (Phoebe and Rosalind); the test of love (Rosalind and Orlando); the changes love makes (Oliver); humor as a help in life (Touchstone); Nature in our lives etc.


References: 1.OUTLINES OF ENGLISH AND AMERICAN LITERATURE ---WILLIAM J. LONG.
                   2.ESSAYS ON SOME OF THE FORMS OF LITERATURE--THOMAS  LYNCH,.


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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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