William Shakespeare - As You Like It

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 . . .

(Act II, Scene 7)

As You Like It (c.1599) is a comedy of happy love. It shows us the two worlds: that of Frederick’s court and the pastoral Forest of Arden. Each has its own system of values. The world of the court is the world of the wrong-doers, the world of cruelty and injustice, the world in which one brother banishes the other. However, it is also the world of love and loyalty, the world in which one cousin decides to follow the other when she is told to leave. By contrast, the pastoral world of the forest is the world of the wronged. It is the world of shepherds, the world where one has to work and suffer hunger, and yet it is preferable to that of the court. Above all, however, it is the world where all the characters gain maturity and learn the meaning of true love.

Love is the governing force in the play. It organises the happy ending. There are a few pairs of lovers in the comedy. I decided to concentrate on one which represents the courtly romance type of love, i.e. Rosalind and Orlando.
First we see Rosalind and Celia at the court. Banished by her cruel uncle, Rosalind leaves the court and Celia faithfully follows her. Then we see both girls in the forest, disguised as shepherds. What makes the play amusing, is that Orlando does not recognise Rosalind in man’s clothes. Particularly funny are the scenes where Orlando has to woo and kiss Ganymede.
In the Forest of Arden Rosalind becomes Orlando’s guide and teaches him true love. When he has learnt the lesson she finally decides to marry him.

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