Compare and contrast the characters of Oliver and Orlando as seen in Act 1, Scene 1.
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The exposition of Shakespeare's "As You Like It" deals with the quarrel between the two sons of the late Sir Rowland de Boys. Through the means of this quarrel Shakespeare highlights the differences between the two brothers.
Oliver: is the elder brother and he has inherited his father's title and estate. Sir Rowland had mentioned in his will that he must look after his younger brother and give him a good education and bring him up like a gentleman. But Oliver out of jealousy denies his brother Orlando a gentleman's education and upbringing and treats him like an ordinary peasant worker on his estate. This clearly reveals that he is a jealous person.
Secondly, there is no reason for Oliver to be jealous of his younger brother Orlando and treat him in the unfair manner that he does. This clearly proves that he lacks self-confidence and is an insecure person.
Thirdly, this combination of jealousy and insecurity drives him to plan his younger brother's murder. He tells lies about Orlando to Duke Frederick's wrestler Charles and poisons his mind and tells him, "I had as lief thou didst break his neck as his finger." This clearly reveals to us his wicked and evil nature.
Orlando: the hero of the play, he is the younger brother of Oliver. The play opens with Orlando complaining righteously of the ill treatment meted out to him by his jealous and evil elder brother Oliver:
"for my part,
he keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more
properly, stays me here at home unkept; for call you
that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that
differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses
are bred better; for, besides that they are fair
with their feeding, they are taught their manage,
and to that end riders dearly hired: but I, his
brother, gain nothing under him but growth; for the
which his animals on his dunghills are as much
bound to him as I. Besides this nothing that he so
plentifully gives me, the something that nature gave
me his countenance seems to take from me: he lets
me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a
This clearly proves that he is 'an angry young man.'
Secondly Orlando is physically a very strong person. This can be seen from the fact that he is ready to challenge the strongest wrestler of his time namely, Charles.
Thirdly, perhaps most importantly, he is proud of his birth and lineage. When Oliver insults him by calling him a villain, he replies angrily:
I am no villain; I am the youngest son of Sir
Rowland de Boys; he was my father, and he is thrice
a villain that says such a father begot villains.
Wert thou not my brother, I would not take this hand
from thy throat till this other had pulled out thy
tongue for saying so: thou hast railed on thyself.
This clearly proves that he is "an angry young man."
William Shakespeare's As You Like It is a very witty comedy. Here, the characters of Orlando and Oliver are clearly distinguishable from each other.
Oliver is Orlando's elder brother. Both are the sons of late Sir Rowland de Bois. In the very beginning, we find out, in accordance with the rule of primogeniture in England, which instructs that all the property would be inherited by the eldest of the family, Orlando gets the possession of the belongings that his father leaves. Though, he was instructed to take proper care of Orlando, he, out of jealousy and loath, makes Orlando totally deprived. In fact, when the royal wrestler Charles is supposed to fight Orlando, Oliver leaps with joy thinking of the probable death of his brother. But, in Orlando, we find no such cruel feeling or motive. He is not even confident enough to stand on his own feet. He just flees away in fear of his brother.
Later in the play, when Oliver is attacked by a lioness in the forest of Arden, it is Orlando who rescues him. Orlando could have shown abhorrence or reacted vindictively by not saving Oliver, but he does not do so. Unlike Oliver, he proves to be a sensible brother and a good-natured human. And, at this point, his valour is also expressed.
Another notable point is that, Orlando's character develops gradually with the help of Ganymede, whereas Oliver's character faces a sudden change in the forest of Arden which is very miraculous.
Finally , the difference between the two brothers has clearly been depicted in the play, where Shakespeare's portrayal of Orlando is almost a mirror image of Oliver.
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