Contrasting As You Like It, The Passionate shepherd to His Love, and The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
The pastoral settings in Shakespeare's As You Like It, "The Passionate shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe, and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" by Sir Walter Raleigh collectively portray contrasting ideas about nature. Marlowe idealizes pastoral life while Raleigh's companion piece shows its negative aspects. As You Like It explores both the positive and negative qualities.
Pastoral settings conventionally carry the connotation of a nurturing and wholesome environment, similar to the philosophical ideas of the superiority of a natural man. In nature, there are different rules from society in which things work together for a common good. In As You Like It, Orlando, thinking that nature is savage, pulls his sword and demands food of the disposed duke. What Orlando finds is that nature is less savage than civilization. Duke Senior, who promises to give Orlando all that he has, describes the splendor and bounty of nature with "tongues in trees" and "books in the running brooks." The court comes to the pasture, seeking food, clothing, and shelter, and finds fulfillment there.
A shepherd, who resembles the chivalric Duke Senior taking care of his flock, protects the animals in his care just as nature provides him with food, clothing, and shelter. A shepherd's wife must support and help take care of the shepherd. Marlowe's passionate shepherd tries to woo his love by promising the best "wool" from "our pretty lambs," beautiful fields in which to reflect, "beds of roses" to sleep on, "A cap of flowers, and a kirtle/ Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle." She will also have "Fair-lined slippers for the cold,/With buckles of the purest gold." The shepherd paints a very pleasant picture of his pastoral world, in which "Melodious birds sing madrigals" and the people will dance to entertain his love.
It seems in the pastoral world, everyone is looking for love and a mate. The mortal shepherd in Marlowe's poem falls in love with the immortal nymph. In As You Like It, many sets of lovers come together. In particular, the love-sick shepherd Silvius and scornful shepherdess Phebe get married. The infection of love grows to include the outsiders who venture into the pastoral world when Touchstone and...