In Act IV, Scene II of As You Like It, how does the reconciliation between Orlando and Oliver reveal character strength and weakness?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Orlando's and Oliver's reconciliation in Act IV, Scene III of As You Like It may be revelatory of some of their character strengths and weaknesses. At the time of the reconciliation, we learn that Orlando has great character strength in that, while he is sorely tempted to leave his brother to be the helpless prey of the crouching lioness, he overrides yearnings for revenge and acts out of humanity to save his brother despite who he is and what he has done. We also learn that Orlando has legendary physical strength and can kill a lioness barehanded by wrestling it.

When Oliver physically awakens suddenly and finds that Orlando has just saved him at great peril to Orlando's own life, he also has a spiritual awakening--an epiphany--and embraces Orlando in the love due him but always withheld from him. Due to his epiphany, Oliver instantly trades hatred, anger, enmity, and deadly violence for love, peaceful quietude, and devotion.

It is a point of debate as to whether an epiphany experience reveals anything about strengths or weaknesses of character or whether an epiphany is a character transcendent experience. However, for those who do tie it to character, it would reveal a hidden--deeply hidden--openness and honesty in Oliver's character. For those who see epiphany as transcendent, Oliver's spiritual awakening proves the transcendent nature of epiphany because, for these, nothing revealed about Oliver's nature can explain his deep change of heart.

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