Essay, Research Paper: As You Like It


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In William Shakespeare's comedy "as you like it," the themes of love,
power, confusion, and betrayal as explored. The author's skillful use of
dialogue combine with dramatic presentation to create a play that is both
entertaining and thought provoking. The play begins with Orlando, who is one of
the three sons of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, lamenting his inferior status in
the family. "The spirit... which was within me," he
exclaims,"begins to mutiny against this servitude. I will no longer endure
it, though yet i know no wise remedy how to avoid it." Thus early on, we
are able to glimpse the intense conflict that this character suffers both with
his family and with himself. The story then shifts to introduce the other main
character, Rosalind, an outspoken and affecting young woman. Charles arrives to
inform her that her father (the rightful duke) and his band of faithful follers
have been banished by Frederick into the Forest of Arden. She becomes quite
distressed, and her intense emotional nature is revealed to the audience. As her
cousin Celia attempts to console her, we also become aware of the deep bond of
support and friendship between these women that will continue to be a central
aspect of the story. Although Oliver pretends to be concerned for Orlando's well
being, he has secretly been plotting to have his brother killed (or at least
maimed) in a wrestling match. Such behaviour establishes him early on as a
villainous, greedy character. Surprisingly, however, Orlando displays incredible
fighting prowess and emerges victorious as the women cheer him on. Flustered,
Rosalind approaches to offer her congratulations and it is love at first sight.
Notably, this seems to be the first point in the play in which Orlando seems
happy. However, many strange and amusing events are to transpire before they can
be together. Following the wrestling match and her meeting Orlando, the giddy
Rosalind is seemingly consumed with excitement over the object of her affection.
This unparalleled happiness is cut short, however, when she and Celia learn that
Frederick (for no apparent reason) suspects that Rosalind is plotting against
him and has decided that she, too, must be banished. Late at night, Celia and
Rosalind leave the palace together disguised to journey into the Forest of
Arden. Rosalind is dressed as a man, and takes upon herself the name
"Ganymede;" Celia has become "Aliena." With the court jester
(Touchstone) to accompany them, they go into exile. Meanwhile, Orlando has
returned home and is warned by Adam, the family servant, that Oliver is plotting
to kill him. Fearful, they too decide to set out for the comparative safety of
the Forest of Arden. In the Forest, Orlando and Adam join Rosalind’s exiled
father and his men. It is important to note Orlando’s care and concern for the
aging servant; such benevolence makes him identifiable as one of the heroic
characters of the story. In the Forest, Rosalind and Celia purchase a cottage
and begin living a simple, “pastoral” existence. To her joy and amazement,
however, Rosalind one day comes upon a part of the forest in which the trees are
plastered with love poetry--all dedicated to her! “But Heavenly Rosalind!”
he exclaims, “That gaze kept, and shall keep me to the end her own! “ It
becomes apparent that Orlando, too, is lovesick. Presumably, however, Orlando
believes that Ganymede (Rosalind) is indeed a man. Reluctant to reveal her true
identity, Ganymede (Rosalind) devises other ways to get close to Orlando. She
offers to let Orlando pretend to woo her (Ganymede) with the idea that he will
soon grow weary of it and be cured of his lovesickness. Unable to forget about
Rosalind, however, Orlando soon gives up trying. During this scene, the
“sparks” between the two characters are very visible; one may wonder if
Orlando is really fooled by Rosalind’s charade. The plot becomes even more
complex when we learn that the sheperdess Phebe, who is being pursued by Silvius,
has fallen in love with Ganymede! Phebe’s cold and distant treatment of
Silvius offers a sharp contrast to the nobleness exhibited by other characters
in the play. In the midst of all the confusion, Oliver arrives in the Forest of
Arden and tells Ganymede of how he has escaped death, thanks to his younger
brother. This tale of heroism causes Ganymede (Rosalind) to become even more
infatuated with Orlando (were that possible). Later in the Forest, Oliver meets
Celia and they fall instantly in love. Touchstone, the witty jester, has met a
simple-minded goat herder named Audrey . Although he realizes how different they
are, Touchstone falls in love with Audrey anyway. Duke Frederick, meanwhile, is
worried about the growing alliance that has built up in the Forest of Arden of
which so many of his men are a part. Deciding to put a forceful stop to it, he
journeys into the forest but is met by an old religious hermit and miraculously
converted. As we see later in the play, such an event is instrumental in the
play having a happy ending. As confusion builds in the forest and Phebe pursues
Ganymede with ever-greater fervor, Ganymede (Rosalind) offers to solve the
problems by “magic.” Shedding her male identity in private, she returns as
Rosalind and the play is brought to a swift conclusion with four marriages.
Phebe realizes that she can’t have “Ganymede,” and consents to marry
Silvius. Oliver and Celia also get married, as do Touchstone and Audrey. Perhaps
most notably, Orlando and Rosalind are finally able to be together and openly
declare their affection. The rightful duke (Rosalind’s father) is overjoyed at
being able to see his daughter and her newfound happiness. Frederick arrives to
restore the duke’s rightful status and possessions, and the characters
presumably live happily ever after.
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