As You Like It | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

As You Like It

William Shakespeare’s As You Like It is set in France in the sixteenth century. The plot of the play revolves around the usurpation of Duke Senior by his younger brother Frederick. Duke Senior and a few Lords who are loyal to him flee to the forest of Arden where they live like Robin Hood of England. Duke Senior’s daughter Rosalind is initially permitted to remain at court but later Ferdinand banishes her.

Ferdinand’s daughter Celia and Rosalind who are friends run away with the court jester Touchstone to the forest of Arden. Rosalind disguises herself as a young man named Ganymede and Celia as a shepherdess named Aliena.

The parallel plot focuses on the lives of two brothers Oliver and Orlando. After the death of their father Sir Rowland de Boys, the elder brother Oliver is given control of his estate and told to look after his younger brother Orlando.

But Oliver is jealous of Orlando and deprives him of an education fit for a gentleman and ill treats him which causes Orlando to flee to the forest of Arden.

The play explores the themes of love, usurpation, exile and city versus country life. Shakespeare’s depiction of usurpation and abuse among brothers which he also explores in Hamlet and The Tempest, resonates with the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible. Cain murdered Abel as he was jealous of him because God preferred Abel. Shakespeare also portrays city life as corrupt and compares it with country life that is pure and simple, and where ‘nature’ resolves problems.

Reviewed by Hannah George