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As You Like It

Written: c. 1599-1600; Text: First Folio 1623 (Comedy), no quarto editions
Sources: Thomas Lodge's Rosalynde. Euphues golden legacy: found after his death in his Cell at Silexedra (1590). Lodge drew on the Tale of Gamelyn (anonymous, fourteenth century) for his source.
Main Characters: Rosalind, Orlando, Celia, Jaques, Duke Senor, Oliver, Touchstone
Settings: Forest of Arden and the French Court. The Forest of Arden may be a reference to the Ardennes region in France, or the Forest of Arden near Shakespeare's mother's home. Some scholars have even suggested it may be an allusion to the Garden of Eden.
Time: Undetermined

This is Shakespeare's only play to end with a female character delivering the epilogue. That is fitting since Rosalind is one of Shakespeare's strongest female characters. Early in the play, she and Celia discuss the roles and perceptions of the sexes and express strong feminist attitudes. It is also the only play to end with a marriage performed onstage, but since Christian sacraments were forbidden onstage during Shakespeare's time, this marriage is performed by Hymen, the Greek god of marriages.

Epilogues and Genders

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Rosalind in As You Like It, the arch-feminist of Shakespeare’s plays, is the only female character to deliver an epilogue. But for the final laugh, she steps out of character and, as the boy actor who played her, says, —If I were a woman, would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me–
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Town and Country

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In Cymbeline, Belarius advises his two adoptive sons to embrace the idyllic life in the country rather than the political life at court:

“O, this life
Is nobler than attending for a check;
Richer than doing nothing for a bable;
Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine,
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Blind Fortune

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In The Merchant of Venice (2.1.23) the Prince of Morocco introduces the theme of blind Fortune, which plays in the fate of Antonio’s merchandise on the seas. It also plays into the question of being born a Christian or a Jew, fair-skinned or dark hued. The theme of fortune is also central to As You Like It (1.2.31),
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Status of Women

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Celia and Rosalind engage in an intellectual discourse on questions that might today be expressed as: “Is it better to be born talented or lucky?”, “Is it our genetic code or our environment that most shapes us?”, “Are women by nature or by misfortune disadvantaged in their status compared with men?” When Celia and Rosalind use the word natural, as in “Nature’s natural”
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Let us sit and mock the good huswife Fortune

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Celia
Let us sit and mock the good housewife Fortune
from her wheel, that her gifts may henceforth be
bestowed equally.Personification

Rosalind
I would we could do so, for her benefits are
mightily misplaced, and the bountiful blind woman
doth most mistake in her gifts to women.
Celia
‘Tis true,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 31

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Status of Women, Blind Fortune

How now, wit, whither wander you?

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Celia
How now, wit, whither wander you?
Touchstone
Mistress, you must come away to your
father.
Celia
How now, wit, whither wander you?
Touchstone
Mistress, you must come away to your
father.
Celia
Were you made the messenger?
Touchstone
No,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 56

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I beseech you, punish me not with your hard thoughts

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I beseech you, punish me not with your hard thoughts, wherein I confess me much guilty to deny so fair and excellent ladies any thing. But let your fair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trial; wherein if I be foil’d, there is but one sham’d that was never gracious; if kill’d, but one dead that is willing to be so. I shall do my friends no wrong,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 75

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Bonjour, Monsieur Le Beau. What’s the news?

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Celia
Bonjour, Monsieur Le Beau. What’s the news?
La Beau
Fair princess, you have lost much good sport.
Celia
Sport? Of what color?
La Beau
What color, madam? How shall I answer you?
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 96

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Young man, have you challenged Charles the wrestler?

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Rosalind
Young man, have you challenged Charles the
wrestler?
Orlando
No, fair princess. He is the general challenger.
I come but in as others do, to try with him the
strength of my youth.
Celia
Young gentleman, your spirits are too bold for
your years. You have seen cruel proof of this man’s
strength.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 161

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Why, cousin! Why, Rosalind! Cupid have mercy

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Celia
Why, cousin! Why, Rosalind! Cupid have mercy,
not a word?
Rosalind
Not one to throw at a dog.
Celia
No, thy words are too precious to be cast away
upon curs. Throw some of them at me. Come, lame
me with reasons.
Rosalind
Then there were two cousins laid up,
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Act 1
Scene 3
Line 11

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You, cousin. Within these ten days

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Duke Frederick
You, cousin.
Within these ten days if that thou beest found
So near our public court as twenty miles,
Thou diest for it.
Rosalind
I do beseech your Grace,
Let me the knowledge of my fault bear with me.
If with myself I hold intelligence
Or have acquaintance with mine own desires,
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Act 1
Scene 3
Line 43

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Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile

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Duke Senior
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of Alliterationpainted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?Quaesitio

Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference,

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Act 2
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Line 1

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Town and Country

What, my young master? O my gentle master

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What, my young master? O my gentle master,
O my sweet master, O you memory
Of old Sir Rowland! Why, what make you here?
Why are you virtuous? Why do people love you?
And wherefore are you gentle, strong, and valiant?
Why would you be so fond to overcome
The bonny priser of the humorous Duke?
Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.
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Act 2
Scene 3
Line 2

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Why, whither, Adam, wouldst thou have me go?

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Orlando
Why, whither, Adam, wouldst thou have me go?
Adam
No matter whither, so you come not here.
Orlando
What, wouldst thou have me go and beg my food?
Or with a base and boist’rous sword enforce
A thievish living on the common road?
This I must do, or know not what to do;
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Act 2
Scene 3
Line 29

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