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What elements of the pastoral influenced William Shakespeare`s play, "As You Like...

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What elements of the pastoral influenced William Shakespeare`s play, "As You Like It"?

Define "pastoral conventions" and discuss how they relate to "As You Like It"?


As I understand it, pastoral conventions have to do with the way in which the pastoral life was viewed during Shakespeare's time? Everyone idealized it, and Shakespeare satirizes this viewpoint through Touchstone/Corin etc.?

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The pastoral is a genre dating back to the Greek poet Theocritus, and exemplified in such ancient works as Longus’ Daphne and Chloe and Virgil’s Georgics. The conventions of the pastoral include its subject matter, which consists of shepherds, shepherdesses, and other rural character, its major themes (usually love), and a portrait of rural life as idyllic, carefree, and innocent  (rather than consisting, as it actually did, of brutally hard manual labour, a constant threat of starvation, and often extreme discomfort). The Forest of Arden scenes in Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like it” follow the conventions of the pastoral, with its views on the nature of rural life, and scenes of rustic innocence and pleasure.


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My answer would be as follows:

- "As You Like It" is a true pastoral romance in so far as it corresponds to the main criteria of the pastoral genre. (elation of the forest (the green world), presence of many shepherds and shepherdesses ans so on and so forth)

- Nonetheless, and beyond this perfunctory aspect, "As You Like It" follows the tradition of Dante Alighieri and of course the tradition of what we call "comedia del arte". Furthermore we ought to highlight the fact that the image forest is pivotal in this play i.e. the forest contains a great cathartic power. The forest can be construed as a place of initiation but also of reformation i.e. people get better when they go back to the Court.


Zac Egs

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