As You Like It Summary and Analysis
Act Two, Scene One
Duke Senior, the exiled Duke, is in the forest with his men. He compares the woods to paradise and tells them he is perfectly happy where he is. He asks them if they would like to go and shoot some deer. One of the lords remarks that Jaques, a stock figure who is constantly melancholy, had moralized on the virtue of killing the deer. He tells them that Jaques watched a wounded deer and remarked that they (the men) are usurping the forest from the animals. The Duke asks to be brought to where Jaques is located so he may speak with him.
Act Two, Scene Two
Duke Frederick has just learned that his daughter and Rosalind escaped during the night. He is furious about their running away. One of the lords informs him that they women were last overheard commenting on how wonderful Orlando is. Duke Frederick orders them to go to Oliver's house and seize Orlando, and if Orlando is absent then to arrest Oliver.
Act Two, Scene Three
Orlando arrives back at Oliver's house and finds Adam there. Adam warns him that Oliver is plotting to kill him by burning down Orlando's lodgings with Orlando inside during the night. Orlando asks the servant how he is expected to survive if he is thrown out of his house. Adam tells him that he has saved up five hundred crowns during his lifetime that he will give to Orlando provided Orlando takes him along. Orlando agrees to take Adam along with him.
Act Two, Scene Four
Rosalind and Celia, using the names Ganymede and Aliena, respectively, arrive at the Forest of Ardenne accompanied by Touchstone. Rosalind is dressed as a man and Celia as a shepherdess. They are all tired and complain that they cannot walk any further.
Two shepherds, Corin and Silvius, arrive and discuss the fact that Silvius is in love with Phoebe. Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone remain unseen in the background. Corin, an old man, is trying to give Silvius advice but the younger man is claiming that Corin is too old to understand the way he feels. Silvius leaves and Rosalind remarks that she can identify with the way Silvius feels. Touchstone then tells them of some of the foolish things he did when he was previously in love.
Rosalind orders Touchstone to approach Corin and ask if he will give them food for some gold. Touchstone calls him a clown, making Rosalind say, "Peace, fool, he's not thy kinsman" (2.4.60). She then goes up to Corin and asks if there is any place where they can get food. Corin informs her that he works for another man and therefore is not allowed to provide hospitality. However, he mentions that the place is for sale and that Silvius was there to consider purchasing the land and flocks. Rosalind immediately offers to buy the land and hire Corin to take care of it with a raise in pay. Corin happily agrees to help them purchase the land.
Act Two, Scene Five
Amiens is sitting with Jaques and the other lords in the woods and entertaining them with a song. He finishes his song and Jaques asks to hear more. Amiens tells him it will make him melancholy but Jaques persists until he agrees. All of the men join in singing another song. Jaques then performs a verse that he wrote himself. After he finishes his singing, Amiens leaves to find the Duke.
Act Two, Scene Six
Adam has gotten tired and tells Orlando that he cannot walk any farther into the forest. Orlando promises to find him some food. In the meantime, Orlando carries Adam offstage to find him some shelter.
Act Two, Scene Seven
Duke Senior, accompanied by other lords, has been looking for Jaques. He is about to send them away to find Jaques when Jaques appears. The Duke comments that Jaques looks positively merry. Jaques tells him, "A fool, a fool, I met a fool i'th' forest, / A motley fool - a miserable world! - As I do live by food, I met a fool" (2.7.12-14). Jaques describes meeting a man who lay on the ground and pulled out his watch. The fool commented that it was ten o'clock, that an hour before it had been nine, and in one hour it would be eleven. Jaques found the man to be so funny that he spent an hour laughing. He finally tells the Duke, "O that I were a fool" (2.7.42).
The Duke tells Jaques that he would only insult people if he had the license of a fool (fools were allowed to discuss any matter, even if it offended a noble, without fear of being punished). Jaques claims that he would be witty and that men would only be insulted if they had done something for which they deserved to be insulted. He is interrupted by Orlando who enters with a drawn sword.
Orlando rushes in and cries out, "Forbear, and eat no more!" (2.7.88). He orders the men to give him food. The Duke politely bids Orlando to sit down and join them. He is taken aback by the Dukes reply and comments, "Pardon me, I pray you. / I thought that all things had been savage here" (2.7.105-106). Orlando then asks them to wait for him to get Adam so the old man may eat first. The Duke tells him they will not touch any of the food until he returns.
Duke Senior remarks that the whole universe "presents more woeful pageants than the scene / Wherein we play in" (137-138). Jaques replies with his famous speech starting:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His act being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange, eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
After Jaques' speech, Orlando arrives bearing Adam on his shoulders and sets the older man down. Both of them thank the Duke for his hospitality. Amiens then sings a long song for them after which the Duke indicates that he knew Orlando's father quite well. He bids Orlando come to his cave and describe what has happened to him. Adam is helped away by the other lords.
The character of old Adam is one of the most unique. In many ways Adam represents the old world, a world that is no longer in power but that cannot be forgotten. Adam agrees to follow Orlando into the forest, essentially indicating his dissatisfaction with the new world he is living in. When Orlando carries him, it marks a moment similar to Aeneas carrying Anchyses on his back, fleeing from burning Troy. It is thus with reverence that Adam gets treated by all the characters on account of his age and wisdom.
The forest of Arden needs to be viewed a projection of the self, an intensifier of oneself. Duke Senior describes his men as being able to: "Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, / Sermons in stones, and good in everything" (2.1.16-17). This is an image of the goodness of the Duke himself. However, Oliver comes across quite a different version of the forest later on in the play. He encounters snakes and lions, and he himself becomes long-haired and wild looking. Thus Arden appears differently to everyone in it depending on their personalities.
In fact, this is quite apparent in 2.6 when we see Adam and Orlando walking around in a savage paradise, hungry for food. This contrasts with the banquet that Duke Senior is laying out for his men. Indeed, Orlando is the savage: "Forbear, and eat no more!" (2.7.88), he cries when he sees the food that Duke Senior has spread out on the ground. Surprised by the civility with which he is greeted, Orlando says, "Pardon me, I pray you. / I thought that all things had been savage here" (2.7.105-106). Orlando thinks he is in a savage place, yet the wilderness is more civilized than he is. The irony is that in this play the bestial man is found in the court, not the country.
Jaques is perhaps the premier character for showing how Arden is a projection of the self. Jaques tells Duke Senior, "A fool, a fool, I met a fool i'th' forest, / A motley fool - a miserable world! - As I do live by food, I met a fool" (2.7.12-14). In reality he has met himself in the forest. Arden again is projecting his own attributes. This is further strengthened by the fact that Touchstone is a mirror for other people. Jaques "foolishly" then wishes to become a fool because licensed fools were allowed to say anything without fear of punishment.
Shakespeare sets As You Like It in a pastoral setting, but he still mocks the pastoral mode of writing in the process. One of the fundamental aspects of pastoral is that the country people are simple and kindhearted. However, this is not the case when Rosalind and Celia meet Corin for the first time: "But I am a shepherd to another man, / And do not shear the fleeces that I graze. / My master is of churlish disposition, / And little recks to find the way to heaven / By doing deeds of hospitality...there is nothing / That you will feed on" (2.4.73-77,80-81). By denying the women hospitality, Shakespeare mocks the stereotype that rustic people give everything to strangers.
A great deal of this play is constructed on paradoxes. Ganymede is really a woman who is in fact is really a male actor (a young boy actually) playing a woman. Even more dramatically, we can state that the Forest of Ardenne has noble savages savaging nobles. Orlando is far more savage than the nobles he finds eating there, in spite of his noble upbringing. These paradoxes not only play with the notion of pastoral but also challenge gender identities. While no one would deny there is a paradox in being both a woman and a man, in Shakespeare's time the issue of gender was much looser than it is in modern society. Woman were considered anatomically identical to men except that the uterus was thought to be inverted male genitals. This view of sex allowed Shakespeare to have Rosalind, as Ganymede, pretend to again be Rosalind.
Jaques gives his famous speech in this act, starting with, "All the world's a stage..." (2.7.138). This speech is important because all the characters and stages of life are described in terms of speaking: the lover sighs, the soldier is full of strange oaths, the old man loses his manly voice, and by the final stage the man cannot speak at all having lost everything. Speaking is therefore conceived of in terms of time passing. This vision of time progressing is part of what makes Jaques so melancholy. He views the end as being, "Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything" (2.7.165), a sense of loss. However, regardless of what Jaques claims about old age, we have Adam to dismiss what Jaques says. Adam is clearly not without his teeth, eyes, taste or anything else except stamina. This is again Shakespeare at his best, showing the folly of Jaques by presenting Adam as living proof that Jaques is incorrect.
As You Like It Essays and Related Content
- As You Like It: Essays
- As You Like It: E-Text
- As You Like It: Questions
- As You Like It: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- William Shakespeare: Biography
- As You Like It Summary
- About As You Like It
- Character List
- Summary and Analysis of Act 1
- Summary and Analysis of Act 2
- Summary and Analysis of Act 3
- Summary and Analysis of Act 4
- Summary and Analysis of Act 5
- About Shakespearean Theater
- Related Links on As You Like It
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources