The action in Shakespeare’s As You Like It play shifts between two locations: Duke Frederick’s court with its pomp corruption, intrigues, deception and envy, and the Forest of Arden, where things are natural, free and beautiful.
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Date written: 1599
Genre classification: As You Like It is a Comedy
Main characters in As You Like It: Rosaline is the central character in the play. She is banished by Duke Frederick and goes to the Forest of Arden disguised as a young man, Ganymede. Celia is Duke Frederick’s daughter. She accompanies Rosaline to the Forest.
Duke Senior is usurped by his brother, Frederick. He becomes exiled in the Forest of Arden with some of his court. Frederick later relents and Duke Senior is restored to his position.
Touchstone is a fool in the Dukes court. He accompanies Rosaline and Celia to the Forest of Arden. Jaques is a cynical courtier who accompanies Duke Senior to the Forest. He is the speaker of the famous ‘seven ages of man’ speech.
Orlando flees from his wicked older brother, Oliver, who wants to have him killed so that he can have his share of his inheritance. The brothers are finally reconciled when Orlando saves Oliver from a deadly snake and a ravenous lioness.
Jacques de Boys is the brother of Oliver and Orlando. Dennis is one of Oliver’s servants. Adam is a faithful old servant of the de Boys’. He is fiercely loyal to Orlando. Charles is Frederick’s official wrestler. Le Bean is a courtier at Frederick’s court. Amiens is an attendant of Lord Senior and a singer. See a full list of characters in As You Like It.
Themes in As You Like It: As You Like It is all about love. It is the greatest joy and the greatest healer. The play explores filial love, brotherly love and humanitarian love.
Nature is a major theme in the play. Nature heals, restores, redeems.
Appearance and reality is an ever-present theme in this play.