Explore the contrast between the idealized pastoral landscape and the corrupt courtly setting and how it may be depicted through the performance of As You Like It.
`As you like it', is another of Shakespeare's satire about love and political corruption; about the typical good reigns evil. The `idealized pastoral landscape', is the Forest of Arden, the countryside, an ideal place for recuperation, reformation and repentance. The other important term is the `corrupt courtly setting' on the contrary refers to Duke Frederick's court, the city-life, where unjust practices and tyranny is rampant; very much the opposite of the haven, Arden is presented as.
In `As you like it', two contrasting worlds are presented; the `real world' and the `ideal world' (p. 194, Coursebook). Shakespeare presents us the literal and symbolic sense of these worlds. He draws a distinction between the good and the bad, by placing them in two contrasting venues, which makes for the literal distinction. There are more than one symbolic purposes for having the two `arenas for the players'. Arden where the `good' are supposed to be, has Duke Senior, Rosalind and Orlando and the courtly setting, has Duke Frederick and Oliver, where the `bad' are rightfully placed. Duke Frederick's court, the `real world, is corrupt as Duke Frederick usurps the throne from his brother, Duke Senior, banishes his niece, Rosalind; and Orlando's deprives his brother, Oliver, of education and wealth. The `ideal world' the forest, eventually sets things straight for the key characters, Rosalind, Orlando, Oliver, Duke Frederick, Duke Senior; and also for the supporting actors, Jacques and Touchstone. The play has a fulfilling ending that leaves everyone satisfied that things are the way they are supposed to be. Such an idealised conclusion is not always achievable in a `real life' situation.
Symbolism is also inherent, pertaining to the choice of venues; in the way they represent good and evil; and it is not just in terms of which of the two venues, the characters are placed for most part of the play. By choosing a natural setting, Arden, Shakespeare could be implying that all men are good when they are created; that is, they were born free of corruption; hence he places the `good' characters, in Arden, a place untarnished by unlawful practices and restrictions, imposed by Man. He shows contrast, by placing the `bad players' in the courtly setting which is man-made; thereby suggesting that Man, though is made `good' can become corrupt because of his own doing. As the play progresses, Shakespeare brings the `bad' to the pastoral-setting, that helps `cleanse' them, make them `good' again. He also brings out the magical notion of the forest, when all the lovers are united in matrimony, in Arden.
The forest becomes a place for the characters to exercise freedom,...