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What is the meaning of Touchstone's speech in As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2? "That is...

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riya-varshney | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted February 22, 2011 at 10:55 PM via web

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What is the meaning of Touchstone's speech in As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2? "

That is another simple sin in u,.......I can't see else how thou shouldst escape" to Corin?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 15, 2011 at 11:24 PM (Answer #1)

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First of all, you must remember that Touchstone is a clown.  Many of his speeches are spoken mainly to be funny.  This speech is there largely for this reason (though it is also meant to show the differences between a court person like Touchstone and a country person like Corin).  Basically, what Touchstone is saying is that Corin is immoral because his job involves being a pimp for sheep.

In this conversation, Touchstone has told Corin that Corin is damned because he is not from court and has no manners.  Corin says he will "rest" and Touchstone wants to know how he can rest when he knows he's going to hell. Touchstone tells Corin that even his job is sending him to hell.

This is the point of the lines you ask about.  Touchstone says that Corin's job is a "simple sin" meaning a sin that arises because Corin is "simple," (ignorant).  He says tha Corin's job involves bringing male sheep to mate with female sheep.  This makes him like a pimp bringing men to prostitutes.  Therefore, Touchstone says, Corin's job is evil and he is damned.  He will only escape going to hell if the devil does not want any shepherds in hell.

So, this is a comic speech that also shows differences between the elites of the court (seen as bad in sylvan plays like this) and those of the common people (portrayed as good and sensible).

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