"As You Like It" by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility.

Synopsis

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 may be intended for the Ardennes in France, but is sometimes identified with Arden, Warwickshire, near Shakespeare's home town.

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 and cousin of Frederick's only child, Celia. Orlando, a young gentleman of the kingdom who has fallen in love at first sight with 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 and Celia disguised as a poor lady.

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, where the exiled Duke now lives with some supporters, including "the melancholy Jaques," a malcontent figure, 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 is said to be apocryphal), 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.

The shepherdess Phebe, with whom Silvius is in love, has fallen in love with Ganymede (actually Rosalind), though "Ganymede" continually shows that "he" is not interested in Phebe. Touchstone, meanwhile, has fallen in love with the dull-witted shepherdess Audrey, and tries to woo her, but eventually is forced to be married first. William, another shepherd, attempts to marry Audrey as well, but is stopped by Touchstone, who threatens to kill him "a hundred and fifty ways".

Finally, Silvius, Phebe, 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 Phebe promise to marry Silvius if she cannot marry Ganymede.

Orlando sees Oliver in the forest and rescues him from a lioness, causing Oliver to repent for mistreating Orlando. Oliver meets Aliena (Celia's false identity) and falls in love with her, and they agree to marry. Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Silvius and Phebe, 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. Jaques, ever melancholy, declines their invitation to return to the court preferring to stay in the forest and to adopt a religious life as well. Rosalind speaks an epilogue to the audience, commending the play to both men and women in the audience.

Characters

  • Duke Frederick
  • Rosalind
  • Celia
  • Touchstone
  • Le Beau
  • Charles
  • Duke (Senior)
  • Jacques
  • Amiens
  • Oliver de Bois
  • Jacques de Bois
  • Orlando de Bois
  • Adam
  • Dennis
  • Phebe
  • Silvius
  • Audrey
  • Corin
  • William
  • Sir Oliver Martext

Production History

Date Venue Company
2005, Feb 7 Ahmanson Theatre
2005 Stratford Festival
1986, Nov 12 Belasco Theatre
1974, Dec 3 Mark Hellinger Theatre
1968, Jan 2 Ahmanson Theatre
1961 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre
1950, Jan 26 Cort Theatre
1947, Feb 20 New Century Theatre
1945, Jul 3 President Theatre
1941, Oct 20 Mansfield Theatre
1937, Oct 30 Ritz Theatre
1936 The Old Vic
1930, Dec 25 Ambassador Theatre
1930, Mar 24 Shubert Theatre
1930, Mar 13 Pasadena Playhouse Pasadena Playhouse
1923, Apr 23 48th Street Theatre
1919, Jan 21 Plymouth Theatre
1918, Feb 8 Cort Theatre
1914, Mar 16 Hudson Theatre
1913, Sep 22 Manhattan Opera House
1912, Sep 30 Manhattan Opera House
1911, Nov 20 Manhattan Opera House
1911, Apr 17 Daly's Theatre
1910, Dec 5 Broadway Theatre
1910, Feb 7 Academy of Music
1907, Mar 4 Garden Theatre
1902, Feb 27 Theatre Republic
1869, Oct 18 Daly's Fifth Avenue Theatre
1786, Jul 14 John Street Theatre
1603, Dec 2 Wilton House The King's Men
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