William Shakespeare: as You Like It, a Pastoral Comedy Essay

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to hold been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio. 1623. The play’s first public presentation is unsure. though a public presentation at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s tribunal. accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the tribunal fool. to happen safety and finally love in the Forest of Arden. Historically. critical response has varied. with some critics happening the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearian plants and some happening the drama a work of great virtue.

Shakespeare’s subjects are frequently expressed in footings of resistances. such as the conflicting values associated with just and disgusting in Macbeth. As You Like It is no exclusion. Runing throughout As You Like It is a tenseness of antithesis between the natural ( that which is free. self-generated. and wholesome ) and the unreal ( that which is constrained. calculated. and unnatural ) . The clang between these two ways of life is seen on several degrees: ( 1 ) societal: in the values associated with civilised society ( the tribunal or a great state estate ) compared with the value of simple life ( the unfastened grazing lands and the forest campsite ) ; ( 2 ) familial: in the discord that sets brother against brother and parent against kid ; and ( 3 ) personal: in the contrast between wooings that are based upon echt emotion ( Orlando and Rosalind ) and those that are based on formal conventions ( Silvius and Phebe ) . These assorted degrees are non unbroken distinct in the drama. nevertheless. and upset in one country is likely to parallel upset in another.

The first scene of the drama introduces us to organized life on a state estate. Here the close ties that should unify brothers have been perverted. The unnaturalness of the state of affairs is made clear in Orlando’s opening address. He has been kept from his modest patrimony. his soft birth has been undermined. and he speaks of “mutiny” and “servitude. ” Oliver’s barbarous intervention of the faithful servant Adam. whom he addresses as an “old Canis familiaris. ” shows that the upset affects other members of the family every bit good. In the same scene we learn of an earlier. parallel perversion of normal household life. but here the functions are reversed. with the immature men’s male parent. a younger brother mistreating his older brother. The grappler. Charles. studies that “the old Duke is banished by his younger brother. the new Duke. ” On the societal degree. the corruptness of the great estate is matched by the adulteration of tribunal life.

But in resistance to these sinister currents. we witness a strong component of harmoniousness between dealingss: Celia loves her cousin Rosalind so much that she will follow her into expatriate or else remain behind with her and dice. And we learn excessively of a harmonious societal order established by the banished Duke Senior and his “merry men” in the Forest of Arden. Thus the resistance between tribunal and state. the natural and the unreal. is established at the beginning of the drama.

In Act I. Scene 2. the corruptnesss of tribunal life are overtly shown ; there is small nuance here. For illustration. the clown speaks jokingly of a knight without award who has however prospered under Frederick. the reigning duke. Not long afterwards. Orlando. who has merely won the wrestle lucifer. is denied the award due him for his victory because his male parent. whom “the universe esteem’d. . . honorable. ” was the usurper’s enemy. The natural values subverted in the earlier scenes find glowing representation in Act II. Scene 1 — that is. “painted gaudery. ” “the covetous tribunal. ” and “public haunt” give manner to the unsophisticated wagess of a life near to trees and running Brookss. Here. the banished Duke Senior and his “co-mates and brothers in exile” find their being “sweet. ” But to accomplish full contentment they have had to set themselves to the natural adversities of their batch — “the icy Fang / And churlish scolding of the winter’s air current. ”

The form of adjustment is one that the assorted runawaies in the Forest of Arden go through ; to them. the wood at first appears wild instead than green. and endangering instead than hospitable. Rosalind complains that her liquors are weary ; Celia is excessively exhausted to go on ; Touchstone honestly declares. “When I was at place. I was in a better topographic point. ” Orlando and Adam about starve. and Orlando speaks of the “uncouth [ rough ] forest. ” “the black air. ” and “this desert. ”

But all of these characters finally make their peace with the wood. and even the autocrat. Duke Frederick. is converted when he comes “to the skirts of this wild. ” For Orlando. the rapprochement is effected when he. along with Adam. joins Duke Senior’s banquet. The expansive motion of the drama. so. is from organized society to the state. from restraint to freedom. and from adversity to joy.

Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden furnishes the scene against which most of the action unfolds. but it serves every bit much more than a mere background. The greenwood assumes symbolic stature. First of all. it is an “idyllic wood. ” The words used by Charles to depict Duke Senior’s life in the wood suggest an idyllic being. and in the celebrated pastoral love affairs of Shakespeare’s twenty-four hours. a universe is created in which shepherds and shepherdesses sing. pipe melodies. and do love while their flocks graze heedlessly in green vales bright with the sunlight of ageless summer.

This aureate universe. gratuitous to state. has small relation to the actualities of state life in any age. yet it is the artist’s fulfilment of the cosmopolitan yearning to fly onerous worlds and happen tranquillity and peace. In Shakespeare’s clip. no less than in ours. people felt the demand for merely such an flight. This idyllic construct of Arden is introduced. as was noted. by the rumour reported by Charles in the first scene. and to this Forest of Arden ( a name that has since become synonymous with a wood Utopia ) belong such animals as Silvius and Phebe. whose names and behaviour link them to subsequently Acadian literature. These characters are absorbed wholly in the suspiring edginesss of love. as merely the shepherds and shepherdesses of love affair can afford to make.

If Silvius and Phebe find their topographic points in Shakespeare’s complex Arden. their romancing is presented as frankly artificial. in contrast with both the elemental. biological footing of Touchstone’s chase of Audrey and the deeply felt love experienced by Rosalind and Orlando. Thus. Silvius and Phebe. pastoral stereotypes. supply another case of the resistance between the natural and the unnatural. which is ever a dominant thematic concern of the drama.

No Oklahoman met. but they looked ; no Oklahoman looked. but they loved ; no Oklahoman loved. but they sighed ; no Oklahoman sighed. but they asked one another the ground ; no Oklahoman knew the ground but they sought the redress. • Rosalind. Sc. Ii. Act V

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