As You Like It


"As You Like it presents an image of human life, not as an arena for heroic endeavour, but as a place of encounters." Consider some of the encounters presented in the play, and their significance to its insight into human life.

"Man in his Time plays many parts , his Acts being seven ages." Here we are given two different worlds, with colourful characters ranging from "the Lover sighing like Furnace with a woeful Ballad" to the "Last scene of all" when Man revert to their "second Childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans Eyes, sans Taste, sans everything."
The stage in the Courts and Forest of Arden served not to dish out mere swashbuckling heroes or heroines . In fact, we are presented with the likes of romantic lovers like Orlando and Rosalind. The emphasis on heroism and bravery is left to its minimum and usually these deeds are plot-movers, used to further the play. Amor Vincit Omnia is never more approriate to describe this play .Love is one of the basis of human life and it is usually through love and love-lost that one can gain an insight into the various characteristics of life. "There is sure another Flood toward, and these couples are coming to the Ark" , abundant love is illustrated by the numerous lovers in the play. Yet love is not merely romantic love, it also encompasses "sisterly love" , brothery love, love between companions and even love in the form of loyalty between the master and his servant. The play is opened with a scene depicting love-lost.Brotherly love ceased to exist and in the case of the brothers, Orlando and Oliver ,it breds evil. Oliver felt that he is "altogther misprized" by his "gentle never school?d and yet learned full of noble devices" brother, Orlando .In Oliver?s jealousy fit, he first tried to kill Orlando through manipulating Charles the wrestler and later, attempted to set fire to Orlando?s lodgings.
This encounter parallels an incident when Duke Frederick chids Celia ," she robs thee of thy name." Jealousy is undeniably a character flaw in human beings and by setting it on stage for the audience to watch, a form of subtle moralization.
Nature and Fortune govern the lives of many and we see these two factors being discussed by the pair of Juno swans, Rosalind and Celia. "Nature hath made a fair creature may she not by fortune fall into the fire" Looking at the fortunes of the fair creatures, Rosalind and her lover, Orlando, we see how Fortune ill-favoured them, and it is with their wits do they flout at Fortune. There is a message to the audience, that Fortune has a hand in one?s life but it is not the only determining factor. Like little andecdotes to inspire, various happenings are thrown along our way to show how one is able to change one?s fortune. "Devise with me how we may fly" as Celia urges Rosalind to "seek my Uncle in the Forest of Arden." Characters in this play do not resign to their fate , in fact strives to come out of it. In the end, these characters emerge from the Golden world, a different creature.
The first glimpse of romantic love was the encounter between Rosalind and Orlando in the courts. There is a element of fantasy in their love at frist sight. Yet it is through this pair of lovers are we being shown true love. There are also other desirable characteristics of human life shown. We see the dignity of the ill-favoured Rosalind as she , with "the little strength that she hath" hoped for Orlando to overcome his opponent. She depicts the decency of humanity even under miserable conditions and even Celia, is gentle and loving as she hoped for her strength would "eke out hers". Goodness can penetrate even the "envious court". There is a sort of good triumphing over evil.
"Go in content to Liberty and not to Banishment." At times, human conditions may be tough but how troubles are being approached depend largely on human attitudes. "Sweet are the uses of Adversity". It may be a statement of truth to some and in this play, this is highlighted often. Shakespeare seemed to tell the audience how to relate to troubles in their lives and how adversities may not be that bad afterall. This is