“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 b...
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... the hero but a lover who hangs his verses in trees, character his thoughts in tree barks as witnesses to his love.
Orlando’s encounter with Ganimed further undermines his role as the warrior-hero. He laid himself open to the love games of Rosalind and swore that he was “that unfortunate he” who had been wounded by “love’s invisible arrows”. In fact, in the golden world of Arden, Orlando mellowed down .There was only a small incident which was not fully illustrated by Shakespeare, which is the encounter with the lioness and Orlando’s bravery for saving his brother.It was only by word of mouth , by Oliver that the audience came to know of Orlando’s heroic endeavour.
As the play draws to a close after the staging of hymen and the unions of the various couples, it is not difficult to see that Love is the reigning theme in the play. Along with Love, other human conditions are being discussed. “Breaking of ribs” was not meant for ladies and it is being tossed aside along with all the ‘baddies’ in humanity. The play is not an areana for heroic endeavours instead it dishes moral lessons as well as a introspection of human life.
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