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As You Like It Essay

1460 words - 6 pages

Shakespeare's As You Like It is a romantic comedy premiered around 1599 or 1600. The play is said to be directly derived from Thomas Lodge's famous novel called Rosalynde. As You Like It is a merry play with lots of sunshine, love, laughter and song. The setting of the play moves between two worlds one is the city, which is ruled by Duke Frederick and the other is the forest -the Forest of Arden. Most of the play takes place in the Forest of Arden. The city is depicted as evil, full of hatred, stratagem, deception, and envy. In contrast, the forest is characterized by freedom, beauty and naturalness. The city represents thorny behavior and the forest represents ordinary behavior. The mood of the play is happy and cheerful. The major theme is the importance of love. We see four characters: Rosalind, Celia, Touchstone and Silvius fall in love in the forest. Rosalind falls in love with Orlando, who is denied his father's will, to breed him well and educate him, by his older brother Oliver. Silvius, a shepherd, falls in love with Phebe, a shepherdess. Oliver, older son of Rowland de boys, falls in love with Celia and last but not the least Touchstone, court's fool, with Audrey. We also see in the play Duke Senior reclaiming his power and Oliver realizing his evilness toward his younger brother Orlando. This raises few questions in my mind, why does the author of the play concentrate on the country life more than the city life? Why does all the pleasant activities happen in the country and not in the city? Since the Elizabethan time, the romantic stories have been idealized as happier and healthier in the country than in the city. Also, the country life is in fact free- free of worries and tensions and is not under manpower and it was during the Elizabethan era. Yet one more reason is that country life is open, natural and magical. In addition to all said above, it is believed that Shakespeare himself loved the country life.It is said beautifully and truly about the Shakespeare that," All his excellence, like those of Nature herself, are thrown out together; and, instead of interfering with, support and recommend each other. His flowers are not tied up in garlands, nor his fruits crushed into baskets-but spring living from the soil, in all the dew and freshness of youth." (Henley xlvii) Shakespeare enjoyed portraying country life in his works. He himself enjoyed the country life more than the city life. It is said that he wrote the play As You Like It in the Forest of Arden. He had finished working on the historical plays and had not yet begun his tragedies. He considered forest to be his resting place. (Henley xxxv) Music, poetry, literature and drama flourished under Elizabeth's reign, largely due to the Queen's love of the arts. Queen Elizabeth especially admired all of the Shakespeare's plays and gave him support and protection. The literary style during Elizabethan era was that of moving sophisticated urban courtiers out into the countryside...

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