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  48. King Solomon's Mines
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  50. Lady Windermere's Fan
  51. Leviathan
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  54. Macbeth
  55. Major Barbara
  56. Mansfield Park
  57. Martin Chuzzlewit
  58. Measure for Measure
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  60. Moll Flanders
  61. Mrs. Dalloway
  62. Mrs. Warren's Profession
  63. Much Ado About Nothing
  64. Murder in the Cathedral
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  66. Northanger Abbey
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  79. Pygmalion
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  106. The Man Who Would Be King
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  108. The Merchant of Venice
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  110. The Mill on the Floss
  111. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  112. The Nigger of the Narcissus
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  115. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  116. The Pilgrim's Progress
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  118. The Second Jungle Book
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  128. Timon of Athens
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  132. Troilus and Cressida
  133. Twelfth Night, or What You Will
  134. Typhoon
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LITERARY MASTERPIECES
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_You_Like_It

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

As You Like It

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
This article refers to the play. For other uses, see As You Like It (disambiguation)
Scene from As you like it, Francis Hayman, c. 1750.
Enlarge
Scene from As you like it, Francis Hayman, c. 1750.

William Shakespeare's As You Like It is a pastoral comedy written in 1599 or early 1600.

Performance and Publication

The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company on August 4, 1600; but it was not printed till its inclusion in the First Folio in 1623.

There is no certain record of any performance before the Restoration. There is one possible performance, however, at Wilton House in Wiltshire, the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke. William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke hosted James I and his Court at Wilton House from October to December 1603, while London was suffering an epidemic of bubonic plague. The King's Men were paid £30 to come to Wilton House and perform for the King and Court on December 2, 1603. A Herbert family tradition holds that the play acted that night was As You Like It.[1]

In the Restoration era, the King's Company was assigned the play by royal warrant in 1669. It is known to have been acted at Drury Lane in 1723, in an adapted form called Love in a Forest; Colley Cibber played Jaques. Another Drury Lane production seventeen years later returned to the Shakespearean text (1740).[2]

Character List

  • Duke Senior - in banishment
  • Duke Frederick - his brother and usurper
  • Amiens - attending lord
  • Jaques - attending lord
  • Oliver - eldest son of Sir Rowland de Boys
  • Jaques de Boys - second son of Sir Rowland de Boys
  • Orlando - youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys
  • Le Beau - a courtier attending on Duke Frederick
  • Charles - a wrestler at court
  • Adam - an old servant to Sir Rowland de Boys
  • Dennis - a servant to Oliver
  • Touchstone - a court fool
  • Sir Oliver Martext - a country curate
  • Corin & Silvius - shepherds
  • William - a country fellow
  • Hymen - god of marriage
  • Rosalind - daughter of Duke Senior
  • Celia - daughter of Duke Frederick
  • Phebe - a shepherdess
  • Audrey - a country wench

Source: "As You Like It" Ed. Frances E. Dolan, Penguin.

Setting

The play is set in a duchy in France, but most of the action takes place in a location called the 'Forest of Arden', which is a toponym for a forest close to Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. The Oxford Shakespeare edition rationalizes this geographical discrepancy by assuming that 'Arden' is an anglicisation of the forested Ardennes region of Belgium, and alters the spelling to reflect this. Other editions keep Shakespeare's 'Arden' spelling, since it can be argued that the pastoral genre depicts a fantastical world in which geographical details are irrelevant.

Furthermore, Shakespeare's mother's name was Mary Arden, and the name of the forest may also be a pun on that.

Synopsis

In Shakespeare's version, Frederick has usurped the Duchy and exiled his older brother, Duke Senior. The Duke's daughter Rosalind has been permitted to remain at court because she is the closest friend of Frederick's only child, Celia. Orlando, a young gentleman of the kingdom who has fallen in love at first sight of Rosalind, is forced to flee his home after being persecuted by his older brother, Oliver. Frederick becomes angry and banishes Rosalind from court. Celia and Rosalind decide to flee together accompanied by the jester Touchstone, with Rosalind disguised as a young man.

Rosalind, now disguised as Ganymede ("Jove's own page"), and Celia, now disguised as Aliena (Latin for "stranger"), arrive in the Arcadian Forest of Arden — not to be confused with the real Forest of Arden, — where the exiled Duke now lives with some supporters, including "the melancholy Jaques," who is introduced to us weeping over the slaughter of a deer. "Ganymede" and "Aliena" do not immediately encounter the Duke and his companions, as they meet up with Corin, an impoverished tenant, and offer to buy his master's rude cottage.

Orlando and his servant Adam (a role possibly played by Shakespeare himself, though this story may be apocryphal [3]), meanwhile, find the Duke and his men and are soon living with them and posting simplistic love poems for Rosalind on the trees. Rosalind, also in love with Orlando, meets him as Ganymede and pretends to counsel him to cure him of being in love. Ganymede says he will take Rosalind's place and he and Orlando can act out their relationship. Meanwhile, the shepherdess Phoebe, with whom Silvius is in love, has fallen in love with Ganymede, though Ganymede continually shows that he is not interested in Phoebe. The cynical Touchstone has also made an amorous advance on the dull-witted goatherd girl Audrey, and attempts to marry her before his plans are thwarted by the intrusive Jaques.

Finally, Silvius, Phoebe, Ganymede, and Orlando are brought together in an argument with each other over who will get whom. Ganymede says he will solve the problem, having Orlando promise to marry Rosalind, and Phoebe promise to marry Silvius if she cannot marry Ganymede. The next day, Ganymede reveals himself as Rosalind, and since women are not allowed to marry women, Phoebe ends up with Silvius.

Orlando sees Oliver in the forest and rescues him from a lioness, causing Oliver to repent of mistreating Orlando. Oliver meets Aliena and falls in love with her, and they agree to marry. Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Silvius and Phoebe, and Touchstone and Audrey all are married in the final scene, after which they discover that Frederick has also repented his faults, deciding to restore his legitimate brother to the dukedom and adopt a religious life.

Source

Shakespeare drew the story for As You Like It from Thomas Lodge's prose story "Rosalynde" in the collection Euphues' Golden Legacy (1590). In adapting Lodge's story, Shakespeare added his own characters, notably Touchstone and Jaques.

Critical response

Critics from Samuel Johnson to George Bernard Shaw have complained that As You Like It is lacking in the high artistry of which Shakespeare was capable. Shaw liked to think that Shakespeare wrote the play as a mere crowdpleaser, and signalled his own middling opinion of the work by calling it As You Like It — as if the playwright did not agree. Tolstoy objected to the immorality of the characters, and Touchstone's constant clowning. Despite these high-profile naysayers, the play remains one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed comedies.

The elaborate gender reversals in the story are of particular interest to modern critics interested in gender studies. Through four acts of the play, Rosalind — who in Shakespeare's day would have been played by a boy — finds it necessary to disguise herself as a boy, whereupon the rustic Phoebe (also played by a boy), becomes infatuated with this "Ganymede", a name with homoerotic overtones. In fact, the epilogue, spoken by Rosalind to the audience, states rather explicitly that she (or at least the actor playing her) is not a woman.

Language

Act II, Scene 7 features one of Shakespeare's greatest monologues, which begins:

"All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages..."

This famous soliloquy is spoken by the melancholy Jaques. Comparing life to a play, it goes on to catalogue the seven stages of man's life: infant, school-boy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon, and second childhood, "sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything".

As You Like It also features much humorous and clever wordplay, occasioned by chance encounters in the forest, and several entangled love affairs, all in a serene pastoral setting which makes it often especially effective staged outdoors in a park or similar site.

Pastoral form

This section may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the talk page for details.
 

The theme of pastoral comedy is love in all its guises in a rustic setting, the genuine love embodied by Rosalind contrasted with the sentimentalized affectations of Orlando, and the improbable happenings that set the urban courtiers wandering to find exile or solace or freedom in a woodland setting are no more unrealistic than the string of chance encounters in the forest, provoking witty banter, which require no subtleties of plotting and character development. The main action of the first act is no more than a wrestling match, and the action throughout is often interrupted by a song. At the end, Hymen himself arrives to bless the wedding festivities.

The stock characters in conventional situations were familiar material for Shakespeare and his audience; it is the light repartee and the breadth of the subjects that provide texts for wit that put a fresh stamp on the proceedings. At the centre the optimism of Rosalind is contrasted with the misogynistic melancholy of Jaques. Shakespeare would take up some of the themes more seriously later: the usurper Duke and the Duke in exile provide themes for Measure for Measure and The Tempest.

Radio and Film

According to the history of radio station WCAL in the U.S. state of Minnesota, As You Like It may have been the first play ever broadcast. It went over the air in 1922.

As You Like It was Laurence Olivier's first Shakespeare film, though he only acted in it, rather than producing and directing. Made in the UK and released in 1936, the film also starred director Paul Czinner's wife Elizabeth Bergner, who played Rosalind with a thick German accent. Although it is much less "Hollywoody" than the 1930's versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet, and although its cast was made up entirely of Shakespearean actors, it was not considered a success by either Olivier or the critics.

A new film of As You Like It is set to be released in 2006, directed by Kenneth Branagh [1].

See also As You Like It, on screen.

References

  1. ^ F. E. Halliday, A Shakespeare Companion 1564-1964, Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; p. 531.
  2. ^ Halliday, Shakespeare Companion, p. 40.
  3. ^ Dolan, Frances E. "Introduction" in Shakespeare, As You Like It. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
As You Like It
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
As You Like It
  • As You Like It - searchable e-text
  • As You Like it - HTML version of this title.
  • As You Like it - plain vanilla text from Project Gutenberg
  • Ian Johnston, "Variations on a Theme of Love: An Introduction to As You Like It" an introduction to the play and to pastoral comedy as a genre
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