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In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in Act III, Scene 2, the shepherd, Corin, and Touchstone, the court clown have a very mocking and humorous debate about the life of a shepherd and about whether or not court life or country life is better. When Corin asks Touchstone what he thinks of a shepherd’s life, Touchstone gives an answer that is absolute nonsense, but speaks of the relativity of life. Touchstone replies of the shepherd’s life “in respect of itself, it is a good life, but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught.” In other words, the shepherd’s life, relative to life itself is a good life, but Touchstone does not enjoy living life as a shepherd. Touchstone’s point speaks of one of the play’s larger points that life is as you make it. The rest of Touchstone’s answers in this speech conflict with each other too. Touchstone appreciates that life lived in the country as a shepherd is a “solitary” life, but hates the fact that it is “a private” life—which amounts to the same thing. He further says that he likes the fields but hates the fact that it is not in court—which is very contradictory. Touchstone also argues that those who have never been to court, like Corin, have worse manners. In short, the argument between Corin and Touchstone to show whether or not country life of court life is better fails to show true advantages or disadvantages of either life and simply argues that life is what you make of it.
Like most literary pastoral poems, the play sets up an oppostion between the court and the countryside. There are a number of places in the play which underline this oppostion. Find them. Then tell in what way the given quotation comments on this contrast. Such a discussion would make a great paper!
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