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Authors: William Shakespeare

As You Like It

BOOK: As You Like It
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Edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen
Chief Associate Editors: Héloïse Sénéchal and Jan Sewell
Associate Editors: Trey Jansen, Eleanor Lowe, Lucy Munro,
Dee Anna Phares

As You Like It
Textual editing: Eric Rasmussen
Introduction and Shakespeare’s Career in the Theater: Jonathan Bate
Commentary: Takashi Kozuka and Héloïse Sénéchal
Scene-by-Scene Analysis: Esme Miskimmin
In Performance: Karin Brown (RSC stagings) and Jan Sewell (overview)
The Director’s Cut (interviews by Jonathan Bate and Kevin Wright):
Dominic Cooke and Michael Boyd
Playing Rosalind: Naomi Frederick

Editorial Advisory Board
Gregory Doran, Chief Associate Director,
Royal Shakespeare Company
Jim Davis, Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Warwick, UK
Charles Edelman, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University,
Western Australia
Lukas Erne, Professor of Modern English Literature,
Université de Genève, Switzerland
Akiko Kusunoki, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, Japan
Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education, Royal Shakespeare Company
Ron Rosenbaum, author and journalist, New York, USA
James Shapiro, Professor of English and Comparative Literature,
Columbia University, USA
Tiffany Stern, Professor and Tutor in English, University of Oxford, UK

2010 Modern Library Paperback Edition

Copyright © 2007, 2010 by The Royal Shakespeare Company

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Modern Library, an imprint of
The Random House Publishing Group, a division of
Random House, Inc., New York.

and the T
Design are registered trademarks
of Random House, Inc.

“Royal Shakespeare Company,” “RSC,” and the RSC logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Royal Shakespeare Company.

The version of
As You Like It
and the corresponding footnotes that appear in this volume were originally published in
William Shakespeare: Complete Works
, edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, published in 2007 by Modern Library, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-1-58836-842-3





In the Forest of Arden

The Festive Resolution

Aliena and Ganymede

About the Text

Key Facts

As You Like It

Act 1

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Act 2

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5

Scene 6

Scene 7

Act 3

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5

Act 4

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Act 5

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Textual Notes

Scene-by-Scene Analysis

As You Like It
in Performance: The RSC and Beyond

Four Centuries of
As You Like It:
An Overview

At the RSC

The Director’s Cut: Interviews with Dominic Cooke and Michael Boyd

Playing Rosalind: An Interview with Naomi Frederick

Shakespeare’s Career in the Theater



The Ensemble at Work

The King’s Man

Shakespeare’s Works: A Chronology

Further Reading and Viewing


Acknowledgments and Picture Credits


For centuries, trade and marriage have been the engines of social mobility in Britain. The story of the Lodge family in the age of the first Queen Elizabeth is typical. A boy called Thomas Lodge was born in Shropshire, deep in the countryside. His family sent him to the big city and he was apprenticed to a grocer. He made a good marriage and rose to become Lord Mayor of London. He was bankrupted when there was a business downturn, but he still managed to get his son Thomas educated as a “poor scholar” at the Merchant Taylors’ School. From there Thomas Lodge junior went to Oxford. Education was the route from trade to the professions: after graduating, Lodge enrolled at the Inns of Court to train as a lawyer.

But then he hit a barrier. Young Lodge had converted to Roman Catholicism. This immediately made him an outsider, a member of an oppressed minority. His father angrily excluded him from his will and it proved impossible to pursue a career in the law. So Lodge turned to writing and became a prolific author of plays, poems, pamphlets, and short novels. The most successful of these—one of the bestselling literary works of the Elizabethan age—was
, a story of exile from the court to the forest. Like a modern screenwriter turning a successful novel into a movie, Shakespeare dramatized the story for the London stage.

By rights, the play should have been named after its heroine. It is the Elizabethan equivalent of an “adapted” as opposed to an “original” screenplay. Shakespeare selects and compresses his material, but retains its essential spirit as a series of debates on the nature of love played out against a romantic woodland backdrop. The flavor of Lodge’s story, its language studded with allusions to classical mythology, may be tasted from the climactic moment when Rosalynd reverts to her female identity: “In went
and dressed herself in woman’s attire, having on a gown of green, with kirtle of rich sandal, so quaint that she seemed
triumphing in the forest; upon her head she wore a chaplet of roses, which gave her such a grace that she looked like
perked in the pride of all her flowers.”

There are striking parallels between Shakespeare’s background and Lodge’s. Shakespeare’s father, too, was upwardly mobile thanks to his success in trade. John Shakespeare’s glove-making business secured him a position on the Stratford-upon-Avon town council. He eventually became town bailiff, the equivalent of mayor. But he, too, ran into financial trouble. It is also possible that the Shakespeares faced difficulties because of family associations with Catholicism. Like Thomas Lodge junior, Will Shakespeare sought his fortune in London. Not having a university degree, he could not enter a profession such as the law, so he drifted into the theater.

The plot of
As You Like It
reflects aspects of the experience of both Lodge and Shakespeare. How can a young man improve himself if he is not given educational opportunities? In the first scene, we learn that whereas an older brother has gone off to college, young Orlando is forced to hang around at home. He sets off for the court and proves his mettle in the entertainment arena—not as a dramatist, but as a sportsman, the amateur upstart who bravely goes into the ring and unexpectedly defeats the professional court wrestler, Charles.

But he is then exiled from the center of power. In a neat reversal of Shakespeare’s own journey from the Forest of Arden in Warwickshire to the bustling world of London, with its commerce, its court, and its theaters, Orlando goes into the forest and discovers his destiny there. Because the wicked Duke Frederick has taken power from his elder brother, the other major characters—the good duke and his courtiers, the disguised Rosalind and Celia, the wandering philosopher-gentleman Jaques—are also exiles in the forest.

Lodge’s setting for his story was France, but he anglicized the name of the Ardennes forest to Arden. Perhaps this is what made the story so attractive to Shakespeare, who was born and raised close to the forest from which his mother, Mary Arden, took her family name. The play accordingly removes the action farther from France: though some French names, such as “Le Beau,” are retained, the location of the court is not specified. The deceased gentleman with three sons—the oldest who treats the youngest like a mere servant, the middle away at university and invisible until the closing twist—is Sir John of Bordeaux in Lodge but the more symbolically named Sir Rowland de Bois in Shakespeare. De Bois means “of the woods,” and Sir Rowland is a name suggestive of a lost world of chivalry and romance, as in
The Song of Roland
. Orlando, the Italianized form of Rowland, is chosen by Shakespeare for his hero as a way of indicating that the youngest son has a special bond with his dead father, a duty to preserve his good name. To more educated members of the Elizabethan theater audience, it would also have conjured up the eponymous hero of
Orlando Furioso
, an epic poem by Ariosto that was the sixteenth century’s great exemplar of chivalric romance. It is typical of Shakespeare’s skeptical, ironic temperament that the Orlando who wanders around the forest defacing trees with second-rate love poems, and who needs to take lessons in courtship from a supposed teenage boy, does not quite live up to his heroic name—not, at least, until the play moves into the true mode of romance when he rescues his brother from a lion and a snake.


The first we hear of the exiled duke is that, “like the old Robin Hood of England,” he is in the forest with a group of “merry men.” Ostensibly the qualifier “of England” is an indication that the action is supposed to take place in France, but the deeper effect is to identify Arden with Sherwood. About a year before the play was written, rival acting company the Admiral’s Men had played a two-part drama on the subject of Robin Hood called
Robert Earl of Huntingdon
—the first work in the long history of the legend to turn Robin into a disguised aristocrat as opposed to a genuinely subversive outlaw. The Arden scenes of
As You Like It
begin with the exiled duke contrasting the natural order of the forest to the flattery and envy of the court. As in the Robin Hood story, the wished-for conclusion is the restoration of the right ruler.

Yet the play ironizes as well as idealizes. The most prominent figure in the duke’s forest circle is not a merry man but a melancholy man, the satirical Jaques. Often wrongly described as one of the duke’s courtiers, he is a gentleman who has sold his lands in order to become a “traveler,” a wry, detached observer of manners and morals. The forest order is dependent on hunting, leading Jaques to sympathize with the wounded stag and suggest that the good duke usurps the place of the deer every bit as much as the bad duke has usurped power back at court. Jaques and Touchstone—the two key characters invented by Shakespeare without precedent in Lodge—spar with each other because the satire of the former and the witty foolery of the latter are rival modes of mocking courtly pretensions such as Orlando’s highly romanticized language of love-service.

Arden is also compared to the mythological “golden age,” and the play duly has its complement of classically named shepherds, signaling the influence of the ancient tradition of pastoral verse. The golden age was the imagined infancy of humankind, another Eden, a playground in which Nature offered up her fruits and the winter wind never blew. But Shakespeare complicates the picture. The duke’s very first speech sees Arden as a place less to “fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden world” than to draw moral lessons from the natural world. This is no Arcadia of perpetual summer: the seasons do change; it is just that “the penalty of Adam”—being forced to labor for subsistence—seems less harsh than the vicissitudes of the court. The myth of the golden age made Utopia into the state that society had fallen from rather than that which it aspired to: a place where everybody was happy and there was no such thing as property. The old shepherd Corin is a voice of happiness, but he has no illusions about the need for labor and his dependence on property that he does not own. He is shepherd to another man’s flock and keeps his job only because Celia buys the farm.

BOOK: As You Like It
7.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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