As You like it by William Shakespeare
The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class Glover in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further. In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Around 1590, he left his family behind and traveled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical acclaim quickly followed, and Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part-owner of the Globe Theater. His career bridged the reigns of Elizabeth I (ruled 1558–1603) and James I (ruled 1603–1625), and he was a favorite of both monarchs. Indeed, James granted Shakespeare’s company the greatest possible compliment by bestowing upon its members the title of King’s Men. Wealthy and renowned, Shakespeare retired to Stratford and died in 1616 at the age of fifty-two. At the time of Shakespeare’s death, literary luminaries such as Ben Jonson hailed his works as timeless.
Shakespeare’s works were collected and printed in various -editions in the century following his death, and by the early eighteenth century, his reputation as the greatest poet ever to write in English was well established. The unprecedented admiration garnered by his works led to a fierce curiosity about Shakespeare’s life, but the dearth of biographical information has left many details of Shakespeare’s personal history shrouded in mystery. Some people have concluded from this fact and from Shakespeare’s modest education that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by someone else—Francis Bacon and the Earl of Oxford are the two most popular candidates—but the support for this claim is overwhelmingly circumstantial, and the theory is not taken seriously by many scholars.
In the absence of credible evidence to the contrary, Shakespeare must be viewed as the author of the thirty-seven plays and 154 sonnets that bear his name. The legacy of this body of work is immense. A number of Shakespeare’s plays seem to have transcended even the category of brilliance, becoming so influential as to affect profoundly the course of Western literature and culture ever after.
As You Like It was most likely written around 1598–1600, during the last years of Elizabeth’s reign. The play belongs to the literary tradition known as pastoral: which has its roots in the literature of ancient Greece, came into its own in Roman antiquity with Virgil’s Eclogues, and continued as a vital literary mode through Shakespeare’s time and long after. Typically, a pastoral story involves exiles from urban or court life who flee to the refuge of the countryside, where they often disguise themselves as shepherds in order to converse with other shepherds on a range of established topics, from the relative merits of life at court versus life in the country to the relationship between nature and art. The most fundamental concern of the pastoral mode is comparing the worth of the natural world, represented by relatively untouched countryside, to the world built by humans, which contains the joys of art and the city as well as the injustices of rigid social hierarchies. Pastoral literature, then, has great potential to serve as a forum for social criticism and can even inspire social reform.
In general, Shakespeare’s As You Like It develops many of the traditional features and concerns of the pastoral genre. This comedy examines the cruelties and corruption of court life and gleefully pokes holes in one of humankind’s greatest artifices: the conventions of romantic love. The play’s investment in pastoral traditions leads to an indulgence in rather simple rivalries: court versus country, realism versus romance, reason versus mindlessness, nature versus fortune, young versus old, and those who are born into nobility versus those who acquire their social standing. But rather than settle these scores by coming down on one side or the other, As You Like It offers up a world of myriad choices and endless possibilities. In the world of this play, no one thing need cancel out another. In this way, the play manages to offer both social critique and social affirmation. It is a play that at all times stresses the complexity of things, the simultaneous pleasures and pains of being human.
I. Intrinsic element
A. Character and characterization
Rosalind - Rosalind as the major character in this novel. The daughter of Duke Senior. Rosalind, considered one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines, is independent minded, strong-willed, good-hearted, and terribly clever. Rather than slink off into defeated exile, Rosalind resourcefully uses her trip to the Forest of Ardenne as an opportunity to take control of her own destiny. When she disguises herself as Ganymede—a handsome young man—and offers herself as a tutor in the ways of love to her beloved Orlando, Rosalind’s talents and charms are on full display. Only Rosalind, for instance, is both aware of the foolishness of romantic love and delighted to be in love. She teaches those around her to think, feel, and love better than they have previously, and she ensures that the courtiers returning from Ardenne are far gentler than those who fled to it.
Orlando - The youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and younger brother of Oliver. Orlando is an attractive young man who, under his brother’s neglectful care, has languished without a gentleman’s education or training. Regardless, he considers himself to have great potential, and his victorious battle with Charles proves him right. Orlando cares for the aging Adam in the Forest of Ardenne and later risks his life to save Oliver from a hungry lioness, proving himself a proper gentleman. He is a fitting hero for the play and, though he proves no match for her wit or poetry, the most obvious romantic match for Rosalind.
Duke Senior - The father of Rosalind and the rightful ruler of the dukedom in which the play is set. Having been banished by his usurping brother, Frederick, Duke Senior now lives in exile in the Forest of Ardenne with a number of loyal men, including Lord Amiens and Jaques. We have the sense that Senior did not put up much of a fight to keep his dukedom, for he seems to make the most of whatever life gives him. Content in the forest, where he claims to learn as much from stones and brooks as he would in a church or library, Duke Senior proves himself to be a kind and fair-minded ruler.
Jaques - A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Jaques is an example of a stock figure in Elizabethan comedy, the man possessed of a hopelessly melancholy disposition. Much like a referee in a football game, he stands on the sidelines, watching and judging the actions of the other characters without ever fully participating. Given his inability to participate in life, it is fitting that Jaques alone refuses to follow Duke Senior and the other courtiers back to court, and instead resolves to assume a solitary and contemplative life in a monastery.
Celia - The daughter of Duke Frederick and Rosalind’s dearest friend. Celia’s devotion to Rosalind is unmatched, as evidenced by her decision to follow her cousin into exile. To make the trip, Celia assumes the disguise of a simple shepherdess and calls herself Aliena. As elucidated by her extreme love of Rosalind and her immediate devotion to Oliver, whom she marries at the end of the play, Celia possesses a loving heart, but is prone to deep, almost excessive emotions.
Duke Frederick - The brother of Duke Senior and usurper of his throne. Duke Frederick’s cruel nature and volatile temper are displayed when he banishes his niece, Rosalind, from court without reason. That Celia, his own daughter, cannot mitigate his unfounded anger demonstrates the intensity of the duke’s hatefulness. Frederick mounts an army against his exiled brother but aborts his vengeful mission after he meets an old religious man on the road to the Forest of Ardenne. He immediately changes his ways, dedicating himself to a monastic life and returning the crown to his brother, thus testifying to the ease and elegance with which humans can sometimes change for the better.
Touchstone - A clown in Duke Frederick’s court who accompanies Rosalind and Celia in their flight to Ardenne. Although Touchstone’s job, as fool, is to criticize the behavior and point out the folly of those around him, Touchstone fails to do so with even a fraction of Rosalind’s grace. Next to his mistress, the clown seems hopelessly vulgar and narrow-minded. Almost every line he speaks echoes with bawdy innuendo.
Oliver - The oldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and sole inheritor of the de Bois estate. Oliver is a loveless young man who begrudges his brother, Orlando, a gentleman’s education. He admits to having Orlando without cause or reason and goes to great lengths to ensure his brother’s downfall. When Duke Frederick employs Oliver to find his missing brother, Oliver finds himself living in despair in the Forest of Ardenne, where Orlando saves his life. This display of undeserved generosity prompts Oliver to change himself into a better, more loving person. His transformation is evidenced by his love for the disguised Celia, whom he takes to be a simple shepherdess.
Silvius - A young, suffering shepherd, who is desperately in love with the disdainful Phoebe. Conforming to the model of Petrarchan love, Silvius prostrates himself before a woman who refuses to return his affections. In the end, however, he wins the object of his desire.
Phoebe - A young shepherdess, who disdains the affections of Silvius. She falls in love with Ganymede, who is really Rosalind in disguise, but Rosalind tricks Phoebe into marrying Silvius.
Lord Amiens - A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. Lord Amiens is rather jolly and loves to sing.
Charles - A professional wrestler in Duke Frederick’s court. Charles demonstrates both his caring nature and his political savvy when he asks Oliver to intercede in his upcoming fight with Orlando: he does not want to injure the young man and thereby lose favor among the nobles who support him. Charles’s concern for Orlando proves unwarranted when Orlando beats him senseless.
Adam - The elderly former servant of Sir Rowland de Bois. Having witnessed Orlando’s hardships, Adam offers not only to accompany his young master into exile but to fund their journey with the whole of his modest life’s savings. He is a model of loyalty and devoted service.
Sir Rowland de Bois - The father of Oliver and Orlando, friend of Duke Senior, and enemy of Duke Frederick. Upon Sir Rowland’s death, the vast majority of his estate was handed over to Oliver according to the custom of primogeniture.
Corin - A shepherd. Corin attempts to counsel his friend Silvius in the ways of love, but Silvius refuses to listen.
There are some themes that can be found in this novel, they are:
The Delights of Love
As You Like It spoofs many of the conventions of poetry and literature dealing with love, such as the idea that love is a disease that brings suffering and torment to the lover, or the assumption that the male lover is the slave or servant of his mistress. These ideas are central features of the courtly love tradition, which greatly influenced European literature for hundreds of years before Shakespeare’s time. In As You Like It, characters lament the suffering caused by their love, but these laments are all unconvincing and ridiculous. While Orlando’s metrically incompetent poems conform to the notion that he should “live and die [Rosalind’s] slave,” these sentiments are roundly ridiculed (III.ii.142). Even Silvius, the untutored shepherd, assumes the role of the tortured lover, asking his beloved Phoebe to notice “the wounds invisible / That love’s keen arrows make” (III.v.31–32). But Silvius’s request for Phoebe’s attention implies that the enslaved lover can loosen the chains of love and that all romantic wounds can be healed—otherwise, his request for notice would be pointless. In general, As You Like It breaks with the courtly love tradition by portraying love as a force for happiness and fulfillment and ridicules those who revel in their own suffering.
Celia speaks to the curative powers of love in her introductory scene with Rosalind, in which she implores her cousin to allow “the full weight” of her love to push aside Rosalind’s unhappy thoughts (I.ii.6). As soon as Rosalind takes to Ardenne, she displays her own copious knowledge of the ways of love. Disguised as Ganymede, she tutors Orlando in how to be a more attentive and caring lover, counsels Silvius against prostrating himself for the sake of the all-too-human Phoebe, and scolds Phoebe for her arrogance in playing the shepherd’s disdainful love object. When Rosalind famously insists that “[m]en have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love,” she argues against the notion that love concerns the perfect, mythic, or unattainable (IV.i.91–92). Unlike Jaques and Touchstone, both of whom have keen eyes and biting tongues trained on the follies of romance, Rosalind does not mean to disparage love. On the contrary, she seeks to teach a version of love that not only can survive in the real world, but can bring delight as well. By the end of the play, having successfully orchestrated four marriages and ensured the happy and peaceful return of a more just government, Rosalind proves that love is a source of incomparable delight.
The Malleability of the Human Experience
In Act II, scene vii, Jaques philosophizes on the stages of human life: man passes from infancy into boyhood; becomes a lover, a soldier, and a wise civic leader; and then, year by year, becomes a bit more foolish until he is returned to his “second childishness and mere oblivion” (II.vii.164). Jaques’s speech remains an eloquent commentary on how quickly and thoroughly human beings can change, and, indeed, do change in As You Like It. Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, those who enter the Forest of Ardenne are often remarkably different when they leave. The most dramatic and unmistakable change, of course, occurs when Rosalind assumes the disguise of Ganymede. As a young man, Rosalind demonstrates how vulnerable to change men and women truly are. Orlando, of course, is putty in her hands; more impressive, however, is her ability to manipulate Phoebe’s affections, which move from Ganymede to the once despised Silvius with amazing speed.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare dispenses with the time--consuming and often hard-won processes involved in change. The characters do not struggle to become more pliant—their changes are instantaneous. Oliver, for instance, learns to love both his brother Orlando and a disguised Celia within moments of setting foot in the forest. Furthermore, the vengeful and ambitious Duke Frederick abandons all thoughts of fratricide after a single conversation with a religious old man. Certainly, these transformations have much to do with the restorative, almost magical effects of life in the forest, but the consequences of the changes also matter in the real world: the government that rules the French duchy, for example, will be more just under the rightful ruler Duke Senior, while the class structures inherent in court life promise to be somewhat less rigid after the courtiers sojourn in the forest. These social reforms are a clear improvement and result from the more private reforms of the play’s characters. As You Like It not only insists that people can and do change, but also celebrates their ability to change for the better.
City Life Versus Country Life
Pastoral literature thrives on the contrast between life in the city and life in the country. Often, it suggests that the oppressions of the city can be remedied by a trip into the country’s therapeutic woods and fields, and that a person’s sense of balance and rightness can be restored by conversations with uncorrupted shepherds and shepherdesses. This type of restoration, in turn, enables one to return to the city a better person, capable of making the most of urban life. Although Shakespeare tests the bounds of these conventions—his shepherdess Audrey, for instance, is neither articulate nor pure—he begins As You Like It by establishing the city/country dichotomy on which the pastoral mood depends. In Act I, scene i, Orlando rails against the injustices of life with Oliver and complains that he “know[s] no wise remedy how to avoid it” (I.i.20–21). Later in that scene, as Charles relates the whereabouts of Duke Senior and his followers, the remedy is clear: “in the forest of Ardenne . . . many young gentlemen . . . fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world” (I.i.99–103). Indeed, many are healed in the forest—the lovesick are coupled with their lovers and the usurped duke returns to his throne—but Shakespeare reminds us that life in Ardenne is a temporary affair. As the characters prepare to return to life at court, the play does not laud country over city or vice versa, but instead suggests a delicate and necessary balance between the two. The simplicity of the forest provides shelter from the strains of the court, but it also creates the need for urban style and sophistication: one would not do, or even matter, without the other.
The setting is in the New York like in Orchard and in the Forest of Arden.
D. Plot Summary
Sir Rowland de Bois has recently died, and, according to the custom of primogeniture, the vast majority of his estate has passed into the possession of his eldest son, Oliver. Although Sir Rowland has instructed Oliver to take good care of his brother, Orlando, Oliver refuses to do so. Out of pure spite, he denies Orlando the education, training, and property befitting a gentleman. Charles, a wrestler from the court of Duke Frederick, arrives to warn Oliver of a rumor that Orlando will challenge Charles to a fight on the following day. Fearing censure if he should beat a nobleman, Charles begs Oliver to intervene, but Oliver convinces the wrestler that Orlando is a dishonorable sportsman who will take whatever dastardly means necessary to win. Charles vows to pummel Orlando, which delights Oliver.
Duke Senior has been usurped of his throne by his brother, Duke Frederick, and has fled to the Forest of Ardenne, where he lives like Robin Hood with a band of loyal followers. Duke Frederick allows Senior’s daughter, Rosalind, to remain at court because of her inseparable friendship with his own daughter, Celia. The day arrives when Orlando is scheduled to fight Charles, and the women witness Orlando’s defeat of the court wrestler. Orlando and Rosalind instantly fall in love with one another, though Rosalind keeps this fact a secret from everyone but Celia. Orlando returns home from the wrestling match, only to have his faithful servant Adam warn him about Oliver’s plot against Orlando’s life. Orlando decides to leave for the safety of Ardenne. Without warning, Duke Frederick has a change of heart regarding Rosalind and banishes her from court. She, too, decides to flee to the Forest of Ardenne and leaves with Celia, who cannot bear to be without Rosalind, and Touchstone, the court jester. To ensure the safety of their journey, Rosalind assumes the dress of a young man and takes the name Ganymede, while Celia dresses as a common shepherdess and calls herself Aliena.
Duke Frederick is furious at his daughter’s disappearance. When he learns that the flight of his daughter and niece coincides with the disappearance of Orlando, the duke orders Oliver to lead the manhunt, threatening to confiscate Oliver’s lands and property should he fail. Frederick also decides it is time to destroy his brother once and for all and begins to raise an army.
Duke Senior lives in the Forest of Ardenne with a band of lords who have gone into voluntary exile. He praises the simple life among the trees, happy to be absent from the machinations of court life. Orlando, exhausted by travel and desperate to find food for his starving companion, Adam, barges in on the duke’s camp and rudely demands that they not eat until he is given food. Duke Senior calms Orlando and, when he learns that the young man is the son of his dear former friend, accepts him into his company. Meanwhile, Rosalind and Celia, disguised as Ganymede and Aliena, arrive in the forest and meet a lovesick young shepherd named Silvius who pines away for the disdainful Phoebe. The two women purchase a modest cottage, and soon enough Rosalind runs into the equally lovesick Orlando. Taking her to be a young man, Orlando confides in Rosalind that his affections are overpowering him. Rosalind, as Ganymede, claims to be an expert in exorcising such emotions and promises to cure Orlando of lovesickness if he agrees to pretend that Ganymede is Rosalind and promises to come woo her every day. Orlando agrees, and the love lessons begin.
Meanwhile, Phoebe becomes increasingly cruel in her rejection of Silvius. When Rosalind intervenes, disguised as Ganymede, Phoebe falls hopelessly in love with Ganymede. One day, Orlando fails to show up for his tutorial with Ganymede. Rosalind, reacting to her infatuation with Orlando, is distraught until Oliver appears. Oliver describes how Orlando stumbled upon him in the forest and saved him from being devoured by a hungry lioness. Oliver and Celia, still disguised as the shepherdess Aliena, fall instantly in love and agree to marry. As time passes, Phoebe becomes increasingly insistent in her pursuit of Ganymede, and Orlando grows tired of pretending that a boy is his dear Rosalind. Rosalind decides to end the charade. She promises that Ganymede will wed Phoebe, if Ganymede will ever marry a woman, and she makes everyone pledge to meet the next day at the wedding. They all agree.
The day of the wedding arrives, and Rosalind gathers the various couples: Phoebe and Silvius; Celia and Oliver; Touchstone and Audrey, a goatherd he intends to marry; and Orlando. The group congregates before Duke Senior and his men. Rosalind, still disguised as Ganymede, reminds the lovers of their various vows, then secures a promise from Phoebe that if for some reason she refuses to marry Ganymede she will marry Silvius, and a promise from the duke that he would allow his daughter to marry Orlando if she were available. Rosalind leaves with the disguised Celia, and the two soon return as themselves, accompanied by Hymen, the god of marriage. Hymen officiates at the ceremony and marries Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Phoebe and Silvius, and Audrey and Touchstone. The festive wedding celebration is interrupted by even more festive news: while marching with his army to attack Duke Senior, Duke Frederick came upon a holy man who convinced him to put aside his worldly concerns and assume a monastic life. -Frederick changes his ways and returns the throne to Duke Senior. The guests continue dancing, happy in the knowledge that they will soon return to the royal court.
A. Author biography and his career
An English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others.
Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the 16th century. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights.
Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's.
Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the 20th century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.
Life Early life
William Shakespeare was the son of John Shakespeare, an alderman and a successful glover originally from Snitterfield, and Mary Arden, the daughter of an affluent landowning farmer. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon and baptised there on 26 April 1564. His actual birthdate remains unknown, but is traditionally observed on 23 April, St George's Day. This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar's mistake, has proved appealing to biographers, since Shakespeare died 23 April 1616. He was the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son.
Although no attendance records for the period survive, most biographers agree that Shakespeare was probably educated at the King's New School in Stratford, a free school chartered in 1553, about a quarter-mile from his home. Grammar schools varied in quality during the Elizabethan era, but the curriculum was dictated by law throughout England, and the school would have provided an intensive education in Latin grammar and the classics.
At the age of 18, Shakespeare married the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway. The consistory court of the Diocese of Worcester issued a marriage licence 27 November 1582. The next day two of Hathaway's neighbours posted bonds guaranteeing that no lawful claims impeded the marriage. The ceremony may have been arranged in some haste, since the Worcester chancellor allowed the marriage banns to be read once instead of the usual three times, and six months after the marriage Anne gave birth to a daughter, Susanna, baptised 26 May 1583. Twins, son Hamnet and daughter Judith, followed almost two years later and were baptised 2 February 1585. Hamnet died of unknown causes at the age of 11 and was buried 11 August 1596.
After the birth of the twins, Shakespeare left few historical traces until he is mentioned as part of the London theatre scene in 1592, and scholars refer to the years between 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare's "lost years". Biographers attempting to account for this period have reported many apocryphal stories. Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare’s first biographer, recounted a Stratford legend that Shakespeare fled the town for London to escape prosecution for deer poaching in the estate of local squire Thomas Lucy. Shakespeare is also supposed to have taken his revenge on Lucy by writing a scurrilous ballad about him. Another 18th-century story has Shakespeare starting his theatrical career minding the horses of theatre patrons in London. John Aubrey reported that Shakespeare had been a country schoolmaster. Some 20th-century scholars have suggested that Shakespeare may have been employed as a schoolmaster by Alexander Hoghton of Lancashire, a Catholic landowner who named a certain "William Shakeshafte" in his will. No evidence substantiates such stories other than hearsay collected after his death, and Shakeshafte was a common name in the Lancashire area.
London and Theatrical Career
It is not known exactly when Shakespeare began writing, but contemporary allusions and records of performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592. He was well enough known in London by then to be attacked in print by the playwright Robert Greene in his Groats-Worth of Wit: there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger's heart wrapped in a Player's hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.
Scholars differ on the exact meaning of these words, but most agree that Greene is accusing Shakespeare of reaching above his rank in trying to match university-educated writers such as Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Nashe and Greene himself (the "university wits"). The italicised phrase parodying the line "Oh, tiger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide" from Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 3, along with the pun "Shake-scene", identifies Shakespeare as Greene's target. Here Johannes Factotum—"Jack of all trades"— means a second-rate tinkerer with the work of others, rather than the more common "universal genius".
Greene's attack is the earliest surviving mention of Shakespeare’s career in the theatre. Biographers suggest that his career may have begun any time from the mid-1580s to just before Greene's remarks. From 1594, Shakespeare's plays were performed only by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, a company owned by a group of players, including Shakespeare, that soon became the leading playing company in London. After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, the company was awarded a royal patent by the new king, James I, and changed its name to the King's Men.
In 1599, a partnership of company members built their own theatre on the south bank of the River Thames, which they called the Globe. In 1608, the partnership also took over the Blackfriars indoor theatre. Records of Shakespeare's property purchases and investments indicate that the company made him a wealthy man. In 1597, he bought the second-largest house in Stratford, New Place, and in 1605, he invested in a share of the parish tithes in Stratford.
Some of Shakespeare's plays were published in quarto editions from 1594. By 1598, his name had become a selling point and began to appear on the title pages. Shakespeare continued to act in his own and other plays after his success as a playwright. The 1616 edition of Ben Jonson's Works names him on the cast lists for Every Man in His Humour (1598) and Sejanus His Fall (1603). The absence of his name from the 1605 cast list for Jonson’s Volpone is taken by some scholars as a sign that his acting career was nearing its end. The First Folio of 1623, however, lists Shakespeare as one of "the Principal Actors in all these Plays", some of which were first staged after Volpone, although we cannot know for certain which roles he played. In 1610, John Davies of Hereford wrote that "good Will" played "kingly" roles. In 1709, Rowe passed down a tradition that Shakespeare played the ghost of Hamlet's father. Later traditions maintain that he also played Adam in As You Like It and the Chorus in Henry V, though scholars doubt the sources of the information.
Shakespeare divided his time between London and Stratford during his career. In 1596, the year before he bought New Place as his family home in Stratford, Shakespeare was living in the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, north of the River Thames. He moved across the river to Southwark by 1599, the year his company constructed the Globe Theatre there. By 1604, he had moved north of the river again, to an area north of St Paul's Cathedral with many fine houses. There he rented rooms from a French Huguenot called Christopher Mountjoy, a maker of ladies' wigs and other headgear.
Later Years and Death
Rowe was the first biographer to pass down the tradition that Shakespeare retired to Stratford some years before his death; but retirement from all work was uncommon at that time; and Shakespeare continued to visit London. In 1612 he was called as a witness in a court case concerning the marriage settlement of Mountjoy's daughter, Mary. In March 1613 he bought a gatehouse in the former Blackfriars priory; and from November 1614 he was in London for several weeks with his son-in-law, John Hall.
After 1606–1607, Shakespeare wrote fewer plays, and none are attributed to him after 1613. His last three plays were collaborations, probably with John Fletcher, who succeeded him as the house playwright for the King’s Men. Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was survived by his wife and two daughters. Susanna had married a physician, John Hall, in 1607, and Judith had married Thomas Quiney, a vintner, two months before Shakespeare’s death.
B. Background of the story / Historical context
In the year 1599, Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne of England. One of the most brilliant political minds of her century, she had presided over nearly fifty years of change and struggle, and brought her country to a position of global power where it would remain for centuries.
The last half of the sixteenth century had been, as they say, pretty busy. England had become irrevocably Protestant, with Elizabeth's excommunication by the Pope in 1570; English explorers had reached the New World, and English armies had bloodily subjugated their Irish neighbors; England's warships (and bad weather) had defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, cementing the country's position as ruler of the seas and confirming, in the minds of its people, that they had been chosen by God to forge ahead in the new century. On the cultural front, the printing press, invented about a hundred years before, was fundamentally changing the way literature reached ordinary people. The city of London had seen its population double in the decades following 1563, to top 200,000 people for the first time, and a massive new middle class was influencing the economic, cultural, and literary development of the nation. The Renaissance Humanistic movement, spilling in from Europe, had ushered in a new era of interest in learning and the classics; and in the past half century, English writers and poets had, for the first time, begun to try to create literature in their native tongue that could stand up to the greatest works written in Latin, French, or Italian.
And in 1599, a thirty-five-year-old playwright named William Shakespeare was enjoying his prosperity as one of the most successful people working in the London theatre. His acting company, called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, had great favor with the Queen, and that very year the troupe was in the process of building its own theatre on the south shore of London's Thames River; the theatre would be called the Globe.
As You Like It was written in this year, just after Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, and Julius Caesar, and just before the writing of Hamlet in 1600. Unlike many of Shakespeare's plays, As You Like It seems to contain few references to the world outside the theatre; unlike the political history Shakespeare reworked in his "history plays," or the commentaries on kingship and power that pervade his tragedies, Shakespeare's comedy plays generally seem to be light-hearted works, meant to entertain and amuse, but not to provoke thought about anything more politically sensitive than the nature of love or poetry. To be sure, As You Like It contains good and bad rulers - Duke Frederick and Oliver are tyrannous siblings, who usurp the rights of their nobler kin, Duke Senior and Orlando - but their wickedness comes straight out of fairy tales, and, the nature of their badness left unexplored, it is easy to create a happy ending by simply letting them reform. Shakespeare seems to be more interested in developing characters like Rosalind, Orlando, Touchstone and Jacques, through whom he can explore questions of identity, semiotics, self-knowledge and (of course) love.
Some basic historical details are useful for a richer understanding of the play. For instance, modern readers should remember that all roles in Renaissance drama were played by men and boys, so that Rosalind and Celia (as well as Phoebe and Audrey) would really have been played by youths in women's clothing; this puts the theme of cross-dressing in a whole new light. And the "mode" in which As You Like It is written - in which noble people flee the court to a simpler life as shepherds and woodsmen - is part of an allegorical literary genre called the "pastoral," which was based on classical writings and was extremely popular in Shakespeare's day; well-known contemporaries like Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and Sir Philip Sidney also wrote pastoral works. (You can read more about these issues in the "Did You Know?" and "Points to Ponder" sections, if you're really interested.)
There are a few references in As You Like It to potentially controversial points of Renaissance law. For instance, Oliver is legally allowed to tyrannize Orlando because oldest sons inherited all their fathers' land under ancient English property laws - which some people thought was a bad idea. And Duke Senior's men are technically violating the law by shooting deer in Arden Forest: all the deer legally belonged to the current ruler (as you'll know if you've read the even older stories of Robin Hood!) However these themes are not pursued very strongly in As You Like It, and, after all, everything comes out well in the end; the play seems to be intended to entertain and stimulate, rather than to bear any political message.
- Orlando’s Poems
The poems that Orlando nails to the trees of Ardenne are a testament to his love for Rosalind. In comparing her to the romantic heroines of classical literature—Helen, Cleopatra, Lucretia—Orlando takes his place among a long line of poets who regard the love object as a bit of earthbound perfection. Much to the amusement of Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone, Orlando’s efforts are far less accomplished than, say, Ovid’s, and so bring into sharp focus the silliness of which all lovers are guilty. Orlando’s “tedious homil[ies] of love” stand as a reminder of the wide gap that exists between the fancies of literature and the kind of love that exists in the real world (III.ii.143).
- The Slain Deer
In Act IV, scene ii, Jaques and other lords in Duke Senior’s party kill a deer. Jaques proposes to “set the deer’s horns upon [the hunter’s] head for a branch of victory” (IV.ii.4–5). To an Elizabethan audience, however, the slain deer would have signaled more than just an accomplished archer. As the song that follows the lord’s return to camp makes clear, the deer placed atop the hunter’s head is a symbol of cuckoldry, commonly represented by a man with horns atop his head. Allusions to the cuckolded man run throughout the play, betraying one of the dominant anxieties of the age—that women are sexually uncontrollable—and pointing out the schism between ideal and imperfect love.
Rosalind’s choice of alternative identities is significant. Ganymede is the cupbearer and beloved of Jove and is a standard symbol of homosexual love. In the context of the play, her choice of an alter ego contributes to a continuum of sexual possibilities.
NOVEL ANALYSIS OF AS YOU LIKE IT BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
WA ODE INDAH FITRIYAH
A1D2 10 038
TEACHER TRAINING AND EDUCATION FACULTY
HALU OLEO UNIVERSITY