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Shakespeare Problem Essay

1402 words - 6 pages

Kayleigh Finglas 14555943The Shakespeare Problem'As You Like It' was written by William Shakespeare between 1598 and 1600, during the last years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. This play belongs to the literary tradition known as a 'pastoral'. It deals with shepherds or rural life in a usually artificial manner and typically draws contrast between the innocence and tranquility of the simple life and the misery and corruption of city and, principally, court life ( play itself takes place in a forest, comprising parts of France, Belgium and Luxembourg, where the characters are hiding from deceit at court or some injustice in the family. The pastoral tradition began with Theocritus in ancient Greece, whose writings explored the regrets of love and daily injustices in rural life. Virgil extended the tradition, highlighting the dissimilarity between urban and rural lifestyles even more. Renaissance literature focused more on the distinction between court and country life, and Shakespeare had many contemporaries who worked in this literary niche, including Edmund Spenser who based his Shepherdess Calendar in 1579 on Virgil's 'Eclogues', and Sir Philip Sidney who wrote a romance in 1590 called 'The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia'.Shakespeare used this French setting through his choice of the French spelling, 'Ardenne'. However, the First Folio indicates another spelling, the Forest of Arden specifically; an Anglicized spelling that is also similar to a forest near Shakespeare's birthplace in Warwickshire. This happy coincidence is analytical of the doublings in the play; although set in a foreign land the play refers to English society such as Robin Hood and 'primogeniture', the state of being the firstborn child and the right of succession belonging to the firstborn. As a result, the play can deal with problems at home in spite of its outwardly foreign setting ( adopted the pastoral as a chance to deal both humorously and seriously with his two themes of brotherly betrayal and doting love. Indeed, the play has more songs in it than any other Shakespearian drama, a sign that Shakespeare enjoyed the pastoral genre he was using for the play. The forest of Ardenne, where the characters all end up, turns out to be very similar to other forests: it causes fear through the wild animals but provides the right atmosphere for healing to occur. This corresponds closely to the forest in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' where most of the action occurs before the cast returns to Athens with their problems resolved. Indeed, after hunting deer, tending sheep, singing songs and writing love sonnets on bark, most of the cast in this play can return home again with all of their problems resolved.Shakespeare's comedies all carry common elements: they involve lovers and they almost always have a happy ending. 'As You Like It' is no seemingly no different, involving many couples marrying in the final...

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