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Explain the pun on the word "meddler" in Act 3 scene 2 of As You Like It, and...

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alisha1106 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:48 PM via web

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Explain the pun on the word "meddler" in Act 3 scene 2 of As You Like It, and why Rosalind uses it on Touchstone.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 22, 2012 at 2:54 PM (Answer #1)

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Rosalind, in this triple play on words, is insulting Touchstone by calling him, not only a “meddler” (someone who meddles in other people’s affairs, a primary trait of Touchstone throughout the play; in fact, meddling is his primary dramatic purpose here), but also “rotten with age” or “rotten before ripe” because a medlar is an apple-like fruit unfit for consumption until almost rotten.   There is also here a pun on graff (graft) and on you (yew).  The “fruit” is the poem Rosalind finds pinned to a tree in the forest and plucks, like fruit, to read.  Touchstone “meddles” in the romance between her and Orlando, turning their romance “rotten” by alluding to rams and ewes and "the copulation of cattle"; in other words, Rosalind is objecting to Touchstone’s inference that their attraction is only sexual.  The scene takes place in the forest, which for Elizabethan audience meant Nature, as opposed to Civilization (see A Midsummer Night's Dream)

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