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A detailed critical appreciation of As You Like It includes discussion of structure, plot development based around the conflict, conflict and resolution, character analysis, literary devices of elements and techniques, and literary tropes and conventions.
One critical comment, and that on structure, is that Shakespeare liberally combines prose and poetry in As You Like It, with the whole first scene of Act I between Orlando and Oliver delivered in prose, which may underscore Orlando's complaint that his education in academics and gentlemanly arts has been utterly neglected: He doesn't know enough to speak in verse. The first poetry is Duke Frederick's speech toward the end of Act I, Scene II, in which Celia and Rosalind earlier also converse in prose so as to perhaps establish a parallel of affinity between hero and heroine: Duke Frederick:
I would thou hadst been son to some man else:
The world esteem'd thy father honourable,
But I did find him still mine enemy:
Thou shouldst have better pleased me with this deed,
Hadst thou descended from another house.
But fare thee well; thou art a gallant youth:
I would thou hadst told me of another father.
Poetry is distinguished from prose in Shakespeare by the capital letter that begins each poetic line, as opposed to prose lines that begin with uncapitalized letters. Compare the Duke's speech above to Orlando's speech is Scene I:
Ay, better than him I am before knows me. I know
you are my eldest brother; and, in the gentle
condition of blood, you should so know me. The
courtesy of nations allows you my better, in that
you are the first-born; but the same tradition
takes not away my blood, were there twenty brothers
betwixt us: I have as much of my father in me as
you; albeit, I confess, your coming before me is
nearer to his reverence.
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