What is the relationship between Adam and Orlando in Act 2, scene 3 of As You Like It?
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Orlando, as the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys in Shakespeare's As You Like It, has known the elderly Adam for as long as he can remember, for Adam has been a loyal servant in Orlando's late father's household for more than 60 years. In this scene, though, Adam acts as more than just a servant, for here, he is truly Orlando's savior.
Adam comes to Orlando with a warning that Orlando's older brother, Oliver, has plans to kill him or have him killed. The reason for this is not because of any evil thing that Orlando has done; rather, it is because he is seen as too virtuous, and for this, Oliver is jealous. Adam warns:
Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.
Know you not, master, to some kind of men
Their graces serve them but as enemies?
No more do yours: your virtues, gentle master,
Are sanctified and holy traitors to you.
O, what a world is this, when what is comely
Envenoms him that bears it!
Orlando does not initially understand Adam's warning, so Adam speaks more directly and urgently:
O unhappy youth!
Come not within these doors; within this roof
The enemy of all your graces lives:
Your brother--no, no brother; yet the son--
Yet not the son, I will not call him son
Of him I was about to call his father--
Hath heard your praises, and this night he means
To burn the lodging where you use to lie
And you within it: if he fail of that,
He will have other means to cut you off.
I overheard him and his practises.
This is no place; this house is but a butchery:
Abhor it, fear it, do not enter it.
Now understanding his dismal situation, Orlando asks desperately where he should go. He also questions how he should survive on his own without shelter or money. At this, Adam goes a step further in his savior role, offering his own savings to Orlando and promising to act as his servant and follow him wherever he goes:
I have five hundred crowns....
Take that, and He that doth the ravens feed,
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,
Be comfort to my age! Here is the gold;
And all this I give you. Let me be your servant....
I'll do the service of a younger man
In all your business and necessities.
Orlando praises Adam's character and graciously accepts his help, advice, and money; however, he promises they will find other means of supporting themselves before running through all of Adam's savings. As shown later in the play, Orlando lives up to his promise and shows loyalty and faithfulness to Adam in making sure he is fed and cared while they are sojourning in the Forest of Arden.
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