Sense of Belonging in Play As You Like It

Categories: Play

The characters in ‘As You like It’ compose a sense of belonging through not only their own choices, but the place and attitudes of others. Orlando’s character of being born into a high class society however not displaying the facets that traditionally condone to a higher class citizen is a clear indication of belonging in the play. When Orlando says “tradition takes not away my blood…” it exemplifies the idea that he is shunned away from society because of Oliver’s resentment and jealousy.

Society’s ideologies of learning to fit in a certain way are subverted through Orlando’s character when he is naturally amiable and admired – a stark contrast to Oliver. Additionally, primogeniture determined the attitudes and Orlando and Oliver, and their sense of belonging. As a result, Oliver granted his father’s estate while Orlando was treated poorly by his brother and had an absence of belonging to court as a result of poor knowledge and etiquette.

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This concept correlates with the contextual idea of the Great Chain of Being where individuals were judged and treated based on their social status within society.

Furthermore, although the brothers belong to the same family name, their motives and personalities are a great contrast that highlights the ideas of an individual learning to grow and belong rather than to fall into their role of belonging. Their relationship is based on resentment and jealousy and this is demonstrated when Oliver says “gentle, never schooled…”. As a result of primogeniture, Oliver’s attitude towards Orlando is harsh and cruel, thus shaping Orlando’s sense of belonging in the court.

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Also, Orlando uses animalistic imagery to symbolise their relationship.

Orlando says “like a doe, I go to find my fawn,” while Oliver is described as “the stalling of an ox”. The contrast of animal behaviour alludes to the personalities of the brothers and the way in which it relates to the Great Chain of Being. Moreover, the relationship between Rosalind and Celia significantly highlights their heavy reliance that explicitly demonstrates the way they belong together. Celia relies upon Rosalind throughout the play to the extent where she is said to “followed her exile or have died to stay behind her”.

This indicates the way in which their attitudes balance each other out, creating a sense of belonging. Their loyalty is based on truth and sincerity, highlighted when Celia warns Rosalind not to fall in love. The attitudes and choices made by the characters are a reflection on the environment in ‘As You Like It’. The changed attitudes of the characters once they enter the Forest demonstrates the way in which belonging is created for each character. The corruption of the court is made evident through Oliver’s orchard which disrupts the idea of the Great Chain of Being.

The outdoor setting showcases agricultural work being performed by servants and the idea of belonging and the Great Chain of Being is challenged. Additionally, the corrupted setting of the court is further addressed when Adam makes reference to it as “a butchery…” where imagery is used to symbolise the tainted atmosphere of the court. The court, in comparison to the Forest of Arden, is pertained as a closed up and isolated area where corruption and concerns with social statuses are evident whilst the open ended area of the Forest of Arden symbolises freedom and individuality.

The reference made between the Forest of Arden and the Garden of Eden creates a biblical allusion where characters find peace and independence in the forest. This is demonstrated when Duke Senior says “more sweet than painted pomp”. The metaphor is used to allude to the fact that the Forest is a representation of freedom while Court life is conformed. Through the characters finding peace, the forest is a symbolism of purity and clarity. After the climax of the play where the characters have all reached some sort of reconciliation, they all return back to Court.

Shakespeare has ended the play in this way in order to correlate to the Great Chain of Being where everyone and everything has its place in society. Moreover, the idea of transcending the need to belong is represented through the melancholic Jaques. Characters expect little of behaviour and this is depicted through imagery where Duke Senior asks “did he not moralise this spectacle? ” and is answered with “O yes, into a thousand similes…” Jacques is an observer of life and is always critical of people and deliberately rejects belonging.

When he says “so to your pleasures, I am for other than for dancing measures,” the rhyming couplet indicates finality in his tone with his decision of leaving the band behind. Jaques’ place in the Forest of Arden is symbolic of granting himself freedom in his decision of isolating himself and freely choosing to belong merely as an individual. The Shawshank Redemption uses the protagonist’s attitudes, the setting of the prison and the concept of time to accentuate an individual’s sense of belonging.

Andy Dufresne’s sophisticated and intellectual character is symbolised through his combed hair and in the way he is formally dressed, unlike all the other prisoners. Andy’s desire to belong in prison is highlighted when he risks his life to give a prison guard advice on finance. As a reward, he and other prisoners are granted beer, symbolising unity and friendship among corruption. The quote “I think he did it just to feel normal again,” emphasises Andy’s desire to belong. Through the unity that the beer symbolised, Andy was able to make friends and experience socialisation, reiterating the idea of Andy being forced to belong due to minimal choices.

He begins to earn respect amongst the prisoners as they begin to refer to him as “Mr Dufresne”. Andy, however, naturally repels against the attitudes of the prisoners and does not belong in prison. Dramatic music and a close shot of Andy ripping his prison clothes off becomes a metaphor for salvation that Andy has achieved. He is a free man who belongs to himself and his choices rather than the conformity of the prison. Furthermore, The Shawshank Prison Ward is depicted as a corrupted and villainous society that is adopted as a home for hundreds of convicts in the film.

The low angle shot introduces Shawshank as a daunting and formidable place. Each of the inmates inside the Shawshank prison is locked up, both metaphorically and literally as they shun away from the idea of society beyond the prison walls. The prison is a multilayered World of enclosed yards, barred cells and solitary confinements. Corruption and order are exemplified as prisoners are forced to belong to a certain religion when the Captain says “I believe in two things: disciple and the bible, you will only receive both here.”

Thus, the harsh and critical attitudes of the captain results in freedom of choice being constricted as they are forced to belong to a certain religion. Moreover, the choices and attitudes of inmates at Shawshank create a home for the prisoners, creating a sense of belonging. Once leaving Shawshank, accustomed to strict schedules and confinement, Brooks has “trouble sleeping at night… sometimes it takes time for me to remember where I am…” highlighting the way in which he belonged in Shawshank. He transcends the need to belong within society and decides to end his life.

This idea correlates to the convicts of the 1940’s who were granted freedom and were rejected and ridiculed in society, forcing them into isolation where suicide was their only option. Strict prisons like Alcatraz offered rehabilitation and this is emphasised through Red’s parole statement. The mood and tone Red uses when he says “I was a young and stupid kid… I am now rehabilitated, that’s the God’s honest truth…” demonstrates the way in which he belonged to the prison and time that allowed him to rehabilitate himself.

Also, Andy was framed for murder and was sent to an environment where he did not belong. Film noir is used in scenes where Andy is by himself, suggesting the darkness of the prison and the way in which he does not belong. The notion of time serves as both contextual and conceptual purpose of belonging in the Shawshank Redemption. The movie is stretched over a time period of thirty years where time serves as both a source of torment. Andy’s undesirable attitude towards the prison and the torment of time results in his choice that consequents in his eventual escape.

Also, Shawshank’s torment of time is represented as a place of rehabilitation. The dissonance used when Andy is sentenced to “two consecutive life sentences…” and has no hope in escaping Shawshank, doomed to be tormented by time. When a prisoner refers to solitary confinement as “two weeks feels like a whole year,” this is suggesting the burden of confinement stretches the idea of time. The long shot of the prison at the beginning of the movie highlights the way in which time is stretched in the movie, daunting those who are convicts.

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Sense of Belonging in Play As You Like It. (2018, Oct 24). Retrieved from

Sense of Belonging in Play As You Like It
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