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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 marriages performed onstage, but since Christian sacraments were forbidden onstage during Shakespeare's time, these wedding ceremonies are performed by Hymen, the Greek god of marriages. Finally, the plot structure is worthy of note. Plot is relatively dense in acts one and five, but it is very spare in acts two through four while the story moves in the Forest of Arden.

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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As I remember, Adam

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As I remember, Adam, it was upon this
fashion bequeathed me by will but poor a thousand
crowns, and, as thou sayst, charged my brother on
his blessing to breed me well. And there begins my
sadness. My brother Jaques he keeps at school, and
report speaks goldenly of his profit.

Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives
me,
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 1

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Now, sir, what make you here?

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Oliver
Now, sir, what make you here?
Orlando
Nothing. I am not taught to make anything.
Oliver
What mar you then, sir?

Shall I keep your hogs and eat husks with
them? What prodigal portion have I spent that I
should come to such penury?

Orlando
Marry,
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 29

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Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?

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Oliver
Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?
Orlando
I am no villain. I am the youngest son of Sir
Rowland de Boys. He was my father, and he is
thrice a villain that says such a father begot villains.
Wert thou not my brother, I would not take this
hand from thy throat till this other had pulled out
thy tongue for saying so.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 55

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Good Monsieur Charles, what’s the new news at the new court?

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Oliver
Good Monsieur Charles, what’s the new news
at the new court?
Charles
There’s no news at the court, sir, but the old
news. That is, the old duke is banished by his
younger brother the new duke, and three or four
loving lords have put themselves into voluntary
exile with him, whose lands and revenues enrich
the new duke.
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Act 1
Scene 1
Line 95

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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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Connected Notes:
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.

The more pity that fools may not speak
wisely what wise men do foolishly

Celia
Were you made the messenger?
Touchstone
No, by mine honor, but I was bid to come
for you.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 56

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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

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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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I am more proud to be Sir Rowland’s son

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Orlando 
I am more proud to be Sir Rowland’s son,
His youngest son, and would not change that calling
To be adopted heir to Frederick.
Rosalind, to Celia
My father loved Sir Rowland as his soul,
And all the world was of my father’s mind.
Had I before known this young man his son,
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 228

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Good sir, I do in friendship counsel you

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Le Beau
Good sir, I do in friendship counsel you
To leave this place. Albeit you have deserved
High commendation, true applause, and love,
Yet such is now the Duke’s condition
That he misconsters all that you have done.
The Duke is humorous. What he is indeed
More suits you to conceive than I to speak of.
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Act 1
Scene 2
Line 262

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