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As You Like It – the Play Essay

As You Like It is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, and the heroine, Rosalind, is praised as one of his most inspiring characters and has more lines than any of Shakespeare’s female characters. Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke falls in love with Orlando the disinherited son of one of the duke’s friends. When she is banished from the court by her usurping uncle, Duke Frederick , Rosalind switches genders and as Ganymede travels with her loyal cousin Celia and the jester Touchstone to the Forest of Arden, where her father and his friends live in exile.

Observations on life and love follow (including love, aging, the natural world, and death) friends are made, and families are reunited. By the play’s end Ganymede, once again Rosalind, marries her Orlando. Two other sets of lovers are also wed, one of them Celia and Orlando’s mean older brother Oliver . As Oliver becomes a gentler, kinder young man so the Duke conveniently changes his ways and turns to religion and so that the exiled Duke, father of Rosalind, can rule once again.

“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” As You Like It – (Act II, Scene VII). “Can one desire too much of a good thing? “. As You Like It (Act IV, Scene I). “True is it that we have seen better days”. As You Like It – Act II, Scene VII). “For ever and a day”. As You Like It – (Act IV, Scene I). “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”.

(Act V, Scene I). The play is fictitious, but shakespeare is said to have taken the traits if rosalind from ‘Rosalynde’ by thomas lodge. One of Shakespeare’s early plays, As You Like It (1598-1599), is a stock romantic comedy that was familiar to Elizabethan audiences as an exemplar of “Christian” comedy. Although the play does include two offstage spiritual conversions, the “Christian” designation does not refer to religion itself.

Instead, it denotes the restoration and regeneration of society through the affirmation of certain Christian values such as brotherly love, marital union, tolerance for different viewpoints, and optimism about life at large. The plot is very simple: the resolution of the dramatic problem in the warped attitudes of two evil brothers toward good brothers, and related obstacles to marriage for several couples in the play (most notably Rosalind and Orlando) are easily overcome, and a happy ending is never in doubt.

On one level, the play was clearly intended by Shakespeare as a simple, diverting amusement; several scenes in As You Like It are essentially skits made up of songs and joking banter. But on a somewhat deeper level, the play provides opportunities for its main characters to discuss a host of subjects (love, aging, the natural world, and death) from their particular points of view.

At its center, As You Like It presents us with the respective worldviews of Jaques, a chronically melancholy pessimist preoccupied with the negative aspects of life, and Rosalind, the play’s Christian heroine, who recognizes life’s difficulties but holds fast to a positive attitude that is kind, playful, and, above all, wise. In the end, the enjoyment that we receive from the play’s comedy is reinforced and validated by a humanistic Christian philosophy gently woven into the text by a benevolent Shakespeare.


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