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May I have a summary of Act III, scene iii of As You Like It by William Shakepeare?

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gksriharsha | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted March 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM via web

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May I have a summary of Act III, scene iii of As You Like It by William Shakepeare?

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

Posted May 4, 2012 at 6:40 PM (Answer #1)

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Scene iii of Act III of As You Like It is one of the comedic scenes that both advance the plot and add funny bawdry filler, though this one is more wordplay than rough humor filled with suggestive bawdry comments. Touchstone and Audrey enter the woods together and Jaques follows behind without their knowledge. I say it is without their knowledge because later, when Jaques speaks to them for the first time, after addressing private asides to the audience, Touchstone responds to him, saying in prose, "Good even, good Master What-ye-call't: how do you, sir? You are very well met: ...." Touchstone also says "you are well met" to Sir Oliver Martext, thus, it is a greeting given upon first seeing someone.

So, the scene is set: Touchstone and Audrey have what they think is a private conversation. Jaques is following and listening, probably only by accident as the previous scene has him leaving Orlando with no mention of Touchstone or Audrey. Then Sir Oliver Martext enters to perform the service of marriage for them.  

Following the wordplay directed by Touchstone to Audrey, in which he wishes to encourage her to say she is feigning love in order to have a clearer conscious in marrying her,

I were better to be married of him than of another: for he is not like to marry me well; and not being well married, it will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife.

Jaques volunteers to give the bride away at the ceremony and, here is an interesting turn of events, Jaques, the cynic and skeptic, advises, then insists that Touchstone be married to Audrey by a better clergyman than Martext, because he is only "the vicar of the next village." Jaques forces Touchstone to call off the marriage by asserting that Martext will marry them poorly (a strange concept to a modern reader/audience):

this fellow will but join you together as they join [wall] wainscot; then one of you will prove a shrunk panel and, like green timber, warp, warp.

Touchstone is in an awkward situation: He either has to confess that he doesn't care how well or how poorly he is wed to Audrey, which could go badly for his plans, or he has to agree with Jaques and go with him to be tutored in marriage: "Go thou with me, and let me counsel thee." The scene ends with Touchstone giving in, leaving Audrey for a time, and going off with Jaques, while Martext asserts his dignity saying no one was going to disparage him and drive him out of his religious calling:

Tis no matter: ne'er a fantastical knave of them all shall flout me out of my calling.

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