As You Like It
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare based on the novel Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge, believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600. It features one of Shakespeare's most famous and oft-quoted lines, "All the world's a stage", and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre. (From Wikipedia)
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When reading a play, it is essential to take note of the stage directions, the characters, the Acts, and the Scenes. These are the markers that will guide your way as you try to read something which should really be seen performed. One trick to reading Shakespeare (who does use modern English, by the way) is to read for the broader picture, the gist. Use the stage directions and your knowledge of the characters and plot, to try to understand the language even when it gets challenging.
The play begins in medias res. Watch the video below to learn more about this technique. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Orlando want Adam to do?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Oliver's statement "Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?" shows the reader that Orlando has seized him. The two brothers are tousling or fighting.
Use the define feature to look up the word importunes. Which of the following is an antonym (opposite in meaning) for importunes?
When Shakespeare writes "marry" like this at the beginning of a statement, he does not mean marry in the sense of two people joining in matrimony. Instead, "marry" here is an introductory statement much like "well," "listen," "I agree," or "indeed."
Describe what Oliver plans to do. Use details from the text to support your response.
"Sweet my coz" means "my sweet cousin." Even though Shakespeare wrote in modern English, it was an older version of the language. In fact, Shakespeare himself even helped to develop the English language by inventing about 2,000 words. Watch the video below to learn more about Shakespeare's contributions to the English language. (This annotation contains a video)
For what do Rosalind and Celia criticize Fortune?
A "whetstone" is a tool for sharpening knives. Reread Celia and Rosalind's conversation after Touchstone enters. Notice how Shakespeare plays with language, using alliteration and inverted sentence structure. The two cousins are talking about Nature and Fortune in a fairly sophisticated way when Touchstone enters. The girls then chide themselves saying they are not smart enough to be having this conversation, but at the same time state that Touchstone (their whetstone) has come in order to sharpen them. As you read, think about the comic effect of this section.
Consider Touchstone's use of language in the conversation. Which of the following best describes Touchstone based on his speech?
Celia is speaking to Rosalind and Touchstone here when she says that they are "laying it on thick" with their responses to Le Beau. When Celia asks what "color," she is asking what kind of sport she missed. Le Beau, as Rosalind suggests is either too dim-witted or ill-educated to understand. How is the group treating Le Beau based on this information?
How do Touchstone and Celia seem to feel about wrestling? Include evidence from the play to support your response.
You have now encountered Orlando in two scenes. What are you learning about his character? What kind of man does he seem to be? Watch the video below to learn more about how characters develop. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following is the best replacement for "I would thou hadst..." in the highlighted line?
Rosalind's remarks here reveal that she is "out of luck" or has seen better days regarding fortune. Her father is the one who has been banished while Rosalind lives with her cousin Celia.
Use the define feature to look up the word usurping. Which of the following could be a synonym (similar meaning) for usurping?
Notice Shakespeare's use of metaphor in Rosalind's and Celia's conversation. Rosalind cannot get rid of her "burs" by "hemming" her dress to remove them. Her burs are metaphors for pain that is in her heart, which she can not mend by removing the object of her love, Orlando. How does this playful use of language affect the mood of the scene?
What reason does Duke Frederick give for banishing Rosalind?
Juno was a Roman goddess of love. Swans typically symbolize love (they were thought to mate for life until recently). Venus was another Roman goddess more often associated with swans. She had two swans to pull her chariot as pictured below. Either way, the allusion is meant to show the closeness of Celia and Rosalind. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below to learn more about theme. What themes do you see developing in this play? (This annotation contains a video)
Explain what Celia and Rosalind plan to do. Cite details from the play to support your response.
Act One Quiz
This short scene begins Act II of the play. What important things do you learn about the Duke and Jacques? Using examples from the text, explain why you think Shakespeare included this very brief scene.
As you continue reading, think about the types of characters you encounter along the way. Does Duke Frederick remind you of other characters? Do Rosalind and Orlando fill some recognizable role from other stories you are familiar with? Watch the video below to learn more about archetypes. Do you see any archetypes in this play? (This annotation contains a video)
What does Orlando mean when he says "diverted blood"?
Think about what the four seasons represent to you. What images do Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter conjure up in your mind? What seasons of life could they represent? Notice that Adam characterizes himself as being in a "lusty winter, Frosty, but kindly." What does this say about his age or physical state? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Rosalind have in common with Silvius?
Jove is the Roman king of the gods. Also known as Jupiter, Jove is the equivalent of the Greek god, Zeus. Why does Rosalind call to the Roman king of the gods here? (This annotation contains an image)
What does the simile Jaques uses reveal about his character?
Jaques is trying to say that he does't like to overuse compliments. He likens two men complimenting each other to baboons (dog-apes) and says that it seems like an embarrassing exchange.
Orlando is going to ________________ for Adam.
There are four important types of speech in a play: monologue, dialogue, soliloquy, and asides. A monologue is a lengthy speech that one character addresses to others on stage. Dialogue is conversation between two or more characters. A soliloquy is a long speech that reveals a character’s true thoughts or feelings, unheard by other characters, usually while alone on stage. Asides are speeches, often short, made to the audience or to a character himself, or even to another character, but out of earshot of the other characters on stage. As you read, try to distinguish which type of speech you are reading.
Which of the following best summarizes Jacques argument?
Remember that the Duke, as we have learned from Rosalind, loved Orlando's father. Though Orlando is approaching the party with aggression because of his great need (food for himself and for Adam), how do you predict the party will react to him?
Watch the video below to see a performance of this famous monologue. How does the performance compare to your own reading of the play? (This annotation contains a video)
How does the performance of Jacques's famous monologue enrich your reading of the play? Consider where the performance makes the tone or meaning of the words more clear.
Watch the video below to learn more about ways to look for emerging themes in a text. What themes do you see emerging here? (This annotation contains a video)
Consider the conversation between Touchstone and Corin regarding the life of the country and the life of the courts (or towns). How do the two compare each type of life?
Touchstone is speaking metaphorically. He criticizes Rosalind for being too caught up in her love letter and for believing in love's words so wholeheartedly. When he says that the tree "yields bad fruit," he is speaking of her judgement of Orlando's words and promises made in the heat of love. When Rosalind answers back, she continues the metaphor claiming she'll "graft" or support her love (the tree/fruit) with him since he'll be "rotten" before he is "ripe." Medlar is a fruit that is eaten when it is rotten. How does this playful exchange advance a theme or tone of the play?
What can you infer about the women in the allusions of the highlighted passage?
Explain what the two princesses have discovered in the woods and who you think put them there.
Gargantua is the father of Pantagruel in the 16th century writer Rabelais's novels entitled Gargantua and Pantagruel. Gargantua was a giant with a gluttonous desire for eating and drinking. Celia's reference to Gargantua is meant to be playful because Rosalind asks her to answer quickly and in one word. (This annotation contains an image)
Use the define feature to look up the word mar. Which word could best be used to replace mar in the highlighted sentence?
Atalanta was a Greek mythological huntress who was known to be swift-footed. This comparison shows that Jacques thinks Orlando is bright. (This annotation contains an image)
Why doesn't Orlando recognize Rosalind?
Watch the video below to learn about one of the three type of irony: dramatic irony. How does this scene portray dramatic irony? (This annotation contains a video)
What is Rosalind's plan for curing Orlando of his lovesickness?
Though this may seem to come out of no where, Touchstone appears to be flirting with this Audrey. When he asks, "am I the man yet? doth my simple feature content you," Touchstone is asking if he is the man for Audrey and she thinks him attractive. Notice the playful way in which they carry on this conversation. This adds to the humor of the comedy.
To which custom are the men referring as they make plans to marry Audrey to Touchstone?
Wainscoting is wood paneling that extends up onto a wall. What does Jacques's simile say about his perspective regarding the marriage of Touchstone and Audrey? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Celia compare the oath of a lover to the word of a tapster? Explain what this reveals about her feelings towards love and towards Orlando.
Rosalind speaks this highlighted section so that only Celia can hear her. She is saying that she and Celia ought to go watch the scene that Corin speaks of because the sight of lover's ordeals will comfort Rosalind who is in the midst of her own ordeal with Orlando.
Which of the following is the best summary of Rosalind's message to Phebe?
Remember that Rosalind is dressed up like a man. What is Shakespeare saying here about love by having Phebe claim to be falling in love with Rosalind while dressed up as a man?
Acts II and III Quiz
If Rosalind has characterized Jacques as melancholy, he could also be called ________________.
Blank verse here is actually being used as a joke. Much of this play (and most of Shakespeare's plays) was written in blank verse. While Shakespeare's sonnets were written in rhymed iambic pentameter, his plays were written in unrhymed iambic pentameter (blank verse). Iambic pentameter is simply the name of the meter of a line of verse with five iambs. An iamb is the combination of an unstressed and stressed syllable. Watch the video below to learn more about iambic pentameter. Can you detect where this play is in blank verse and where it is not? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Rosalind push Orlando so much? Identify and explain at least two examples where her questions are designed to lead Orlando to confess the strength of his love.
Troilus was a Trojan prince (a son of King Priam, father of Hector and Paris). Troilus is said to have been killed by Achilles. This reference to him as being one of the "patterns of love" is a reference to fatherly love. Troilus epitomizes a dead child mourned by his parents.
Which sound device does Shakespeare use in the highlighted sentence?
Remember that though Rosalind may seem to Orlando to be joking, this is actually exactly what she fears about letting herself fall in love with him: that his love will too soon fade away. She is saying this to Orlando while dressed as a man, but the message is exactly what she might actually say to him.
What can you infer about the Duke from the beginning of this scene?
Think back to the scene with Phebe. What do you think this letter might contain?
Summarize what Phebe has said to Rosalind in the letter and how Rosalind responds to Silvius. How is this meant to be a humorous comment on the theme of love's folly?
What do you know about Oliver that builds suspense at this moment? Why does Oliver have a blood stained handkerchief? How does he know about Rosalind, dressed as Ganymede, posing as Rosalind? How does Shakespeare include and leave out information here that helps to build a sense of tension? (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the video below to learn more about tone and mood. How does Shakespeare create a specific tone or mood throughout this section of the play? (This annotation contains a video)
What is the difference between the way Rosalind uses the word counterfeit and the way that Oliver is using the word counterfeit?
It is thought that Touchstone's statements about the wise man eating the grapes is meant to make fun of William. Because William is described as a country bumpkin, standing with his mouth agape (open), the reader can infer that Touchstone is mocking his simple wisdom and trying to contrast that to Touchstone's own philosophical wisdom.
Why does Touchstone make a point to translate his statements into "the vulgar"?
Why do you think Rosalind, dressed as a man still, tells Orlando that she has special powers? What might she be planning to do?
This play is overflowing with characters who love each other or are falling in love. Which is the most recent pair to claim their love for each other?
Which of the following best captures Rosalind's tone?
The boy that the Duke is referring to is, of course, Rosalind who is still dressed as Ganymede. Notice the lengths to which she goes for assurance. How does this section create a sense of anticipation? What do you think Shakespeare may have been trying to say about love with a character like Rosalind? Is she the protagonist, or hero, of this play?
Who is the duke referring to here?
Why do you think that Touchstone goes to all this trouble to explain how to both start and resolve conflicts? Is he speaking earnestly or in a riddle-like way? How does this add to the reader's understanding of Touchstone's role in the play (remember, he is called "the clown" but is actually very smart).
Which of the following people is not getting married?
What is the meaning of the second measures in the highlighted line?
Oliver and Orlando are getting married. Jacques De Boys is their brother.
This might, at first, appear to be confusing because Rosalind is supposed to be a girl. However, it is important to note that, during Shakespeare's time, men played all of the characters in a play. So, to make matters more humorous and confusing, Rosalind would have been a man, dressed as a woman who was dressed as a man (when she played Ganymede).
Acts IV and V Quiz