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Essay on Love in Shakespeare's As You Like It

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Love in As You Like It  

 
    Throughout the centuries, men have pondered many great questions. Among these is the question: "What is love?" There is no doubt that the greatest name in English literature, Shakespeare, sought to answer this question for himself. Indeed, Shakespeare recorded his answer in many of the sonnets and plays he wrote, including As You Like It. As Shakespeare learned in seeking to answer this question, love is many things, which in this play he observes through the characters of the play, but most directly through Silvius:

It is to be all made of fantasy,
All made of passion and all made of wishes,
All adoration, duty, and observance,
All humbleness, all patience and impatience,
All purity, all trial, all observance ... (V.ii).

In this play, Shakespeare associates love with many characteristics. Love is often associated with selflessness in this play. Part of the answer to the question of love is also selflessness. And an important part of love is truth. Love embodies all of the greatest characteristics of a person: truthfulness, selflessness, and faithfulness.

Part of love is selflessness. Throughout the play, many of the characters demonstrate selflessness which in turn reflects their love for one another. Orlando is one such character. He and the ever-faithful Adam are wandering through the forest of Arden, for Adam had warned Orlando of certain death. Orlando's elder brother, Oliver, had harbored a deep hatred towards Orlando, a hatred which had grown to immense proportions. If Orlando had his home, he would have been killed. Adam was able to persuade Orlando to flee, and now they are in the forest. Once here, though, Adam can go no further, for his is but an old man. "I die fo...


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..."'Strange Events': Improbability in As You Like It." Shakespeare Studies. 4 (1968): 119-124.

Brown, John Russell. "Love's Order and the Judgement of As You Like It." Twentieth Century Interpretations of As You Like It. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Lifson, Martha Ronk. "Learning by Talking: Conversation in As You Like It." Shakespeare Survey. 40.2 (1987): 93-98.

Salinger, Leo. Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy. London: Cambridge University Press, 1974.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Hypertext (HTML) Document, http://www.gh.cs.usyd.edu.au/~matty/Shakespeare/texts/comedies/asyoulikeit.html. [date not supplied].

Vaughn, Jack A. Shakespeare's Comedies. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, 1980.

Wilson, John Dover. Shakespeare's Happy Comedies. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1962.

 

 


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