As You Like It by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
(1564 - 1616)

Type of Work:

Romantic comedy


France; Duke Frederick\'s court and Forest
of Arden; 1500s

Principal Characters

Duke Senior, exiled rightful ruler

Duke Frederick, usurper of his brother\'s

Oliver and Orlando, sons of Sir Rowland
de Boys

Adam, long-time servant to Sir Rowland

Rosalind, Duke Senior\'s daughter

Celia, Duke Frederick\'s daughter

Phebe, a shepherdess

Silvius, a shepherd with unrequited love
for Phebe

Touchstone, a "motley fool" jester who
provides good-humor throughout the play

Story Overveiw

Orlando was angry with his older brother

Oliver for giving him nothing from their father\'s estate. He complained
loudly to Adam, an old family servant. just then, in walked Oliver, the
object of Orlando\'s ire. They quarreled, and though Adam pled with them"for your father\'s remembrance" not to fight, Orlando continued to demand
his share of the inheritance - which Oliver at last reluctantly granted
in order to avoid violence. Then, as Orlando left, Oliver drove Adam out
as well: "Get you with him, you old dog." Left alone, Oliver summoned mighty

Charles, the court wrestler. The next day Orlando was to wrestle Charles,
and Oliver charged him, "I had as lief thou did\'st break his neck as his
finger." Meanwhile, at the court of Duke Frederick, his daughter Celia
consoled melancholy Rosalind, her cousin - and the daughter of the recently
deposed duke Senior. But Celia\'s consolations were futile; Rosalind could
not "forget a banished father." Only when Celia promised that she would
turn over her whole future inheritance - the dukedom itself - to Rosalind,
did Rosalind grow "merry" again. The cousins then decided to go watch the
wrestling match. Meeting Orlando on the way, they tried to persuade him
to "give over this attempt" at besting Charles, who had already crushed
the ribs of three challengers. But Orlando would not be dissuaded.

The match ended quickly; to the astonishment
of all, Charles was thrown and Orlando declared the victor. Duke Frederick
called the champion forward to receive his reward, but upon learning that

Orlando was the son of his enemy, Sir Rowland, he angrily sent the young
man on his way. Rosalind, on the other hand, offered her hero a chain:

"Wear this for me," she told him. Then she blushingly added, "Sir, you
have wrestled well, and overthrown more than your enemies."

Just days later, Duke Frederick gruffly
took Rosalind aside. "Within these ten days" he warned, "if that thou be\'st
found so near our public court as twenty miles, thou diest for it." When

Rosalind protested that she was not a traitor, her uncle was unmoved. As
the daughter of Duke Senior, Frederick\'s deposed brother, Rosalind was
unwelcome in his realm. But unbeknownst to Frederick, his own daughter

Celia offered to join her cousin in exile. That night the girls would depart
for the forest of Arden, where Duke Senior now lived. Since the forest
was a dangerous place for two women alone, the taller Rosalind dressed
as a pageboy, calling herself "Ganymede," while Celia put on the rags of
a shepherdess, and called herself "Aliena." They also invited the "clownish
fool of [the] court," Touchstone, to accompany them. That evening, the
three fugitives escaped, undetected.

Now that same night, Adam warned Orlando
of Oliver\'s plan to burn Orlando\'s house, leaving him no safe refuge. Adam
offered Orlando his life\'s savings and asked, "Let me be your servant."

Orlando gladly accepted and together they, too, left for the forest of


As Celia, Touchstone, and Rosalind - she
in boy\'s clothing - made their way through the woods, they overheard a
shepherd, Silvius, pouring out his heart to his friend Corin: "O Corin,
that thou knew\'st how I do love her [Phebel!" With this, the distraught
shepherd ran away. Rosalind and company, "with travel much oppressed,"
then approached Corin, and he extended an invitation for them to eat and
rest in his own humble cottage.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest,

Adam, faint after their long journey, complained to Orlando: "Dear master
... I die for food." Orlando promised he would bring victuals to the faithful
old servant, or die trying. As he searched for food, he came upon the exiled

Duke Senior and his men, who were about to eat. Orlando strutted towards
them and menacingly decreed, "Forebear, and eat no more! ... He dies that
touches any of this fruit till I and my affairs are answered." Duke Senior,
unoffended, invited Orlando to sit down and join them. Then, embarrassed
by his own behavior, Orlando begged their forgiveness and hurried to retrieve

Adam. As everyone ate, Orlando revealed to Duke Senior that he was the
son of Sir Rowland, where upon the Duke