The Importance of Family Relationships in As You Like It by William Shakespeare


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The Importance of Family Relationships in As You Like It by William Shakespeare


‘As You Like It’ depends largely on the portrayal of relationships for
an array of purposes; the relationships provide comedy for the
audience, and induce empathy and various other emotions. There are
many family relationships in ‘As You Like It’, varying from parent and
child bonds to husband and wife commitments – there are many new such
commitments at the end of the play.

Firstly, I shall discuss the importance of the father-daughter
relationships between Duke Senior and Rosalind, and Duke Frederick and
Celia. The second scene of the play details Rosalind mourning her
banished father, which makes the audience realise the caring qualities
in her nature:

“Unless you could teach me to forget a banished father, you must not
learn me how to remember any extraordinary pleasure.”

However, her loss is soon forgotten when she meets Orlando. This
represents that young adults are attached to their parents to a
certain extent, but are often forgotten when other interests come into
play, for example love interests. Critics could argue that this
suggests that this family relationship is not particularly important
in ‘As You Like It’. However, this relationship allows the play to
progress, when Rosalind and Celia set out into the Forest of Arden to
search for Duke Senior. In addition, Rosalind only finds true
happiness with Orlando once she has found her father again, so it
seems that her happiness in love is dependent on her contentment with
her family relationships. Therefore, I personally think that this
conveys the importance of their relationship in ‘As You Like It’.

The relationship between Duke Frederick and Celia appears to be less
valued than that between Rosalind and her father, because when Duke
Frederick decides to banish Rosalind, Celia unhesitatingly joins her,
showing her strength of character to be able to leave her father:

“Duke Frederick: … Firm and irrevocable is my doom

Which I have pass’d upon her; she is banish’d.

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Celia: Pronounce that sentence then on me, my liege.

I cannot live out of her company.”

Family relations are even to blame for Rosalind’s banishment, and Duke
Frederick’s dislike for Orlando, because he discovers that Orlando’s
father was Sir Rowland who was very close to Rosalind’s usurped
father. This complicated set of family connections depicts the nature
of the play, and how it conveys the conflict between generations due
to relations.

Rosalind’s relationship with Celia has all the traits of a family
relationship, and they are closer to each other than they appear to be
to their own families. Their relationship is a portrayal of the
harmony within generations, and how friendships can exceed the
importance of a family bond in life as well as in ‘As You Like It’.
Shakespeare conveys their close relationship in the ease in which they
adopt a brother-sister relationship when they enter the forest.

The relationship between Rosalind and Orlando eventually becomes a
family relationship in the final scenes of ‘As You Like It’. Their
relationship blossoms under the pretence that Rosalind is a man named
Ganymede. This may suggest that strong relationships can be forged
without the people involved realising it. The harmony between the
pair is conveyed by Shakespeare to represent the importance of healthy
friendships and relationships in ‘As You Like It’, as the play is
essentially about love in many different forms. Celia and Oliver wed
at the same time as Rosalind and Orlando, Phebe and Silvius, and
Audrey and Touchstone. Shakespeare suggests that the style of each
pair’s relationships will vary because of the character’s
personalities – for example the audience does not doubt that the
purpose of Audrey and Touchstone’s marriage is more sexual than that
of Rosalind and Orlando, who seem to be marrying for true love.
Therefore, the purpose of family relationships in ‘As You Like It’ is
also to indicate the personalities of the characters. Consequently,
relationships are vital in the play because they allow the audience to
appreciate more fully the disposition of each individual in ‘As You
Like It’.

I personally believe that ‘As You Like It’ reveals how family
relationships are often a lot more difficult to maintain than
friendships, yet friendships seem to be more valuable to the
characters; nevertheless each character still strives to create their
own, chosen families by marrying.


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