What is the relationship between Oliver and Orlando at the beginning and end of As You Like It?
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Orlando is the youngest of three brothers, but he is much bigger and stronger than the oldest brother Oliver. Perhaps this is one reason Oliver dislikes Orlando so intensely and why he tries to belittle him and to maintain such a superior attitude towards him.
At the beginning of As You Like It Oliver and Orlando hate each other. Orlando is resentful because Oliver refuses to help him improve his education but treats him like a peasant. He says:
My father charged you in his will to give me good education: you have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentlemanlike qualities.
Oliver actually encourages the wrestler Charles to kill Orlando in their upcoming bout, but Orlando wins and then is forced to flee because he learns that Oliver has further plans to kill him.
Duke Frederick orders Oliver to pursue Orlando because he believes Rosalind and Celia have run off with him and he blames this on Oliver. The Duke's reason for blaming Oliver is that he suspects him of plotting to kill his youngest brother and forcing him to flee, thereby providing Rosalind and Celia with the protection to flee with him. In other words, the Duke believes that his daughter Celia is to be found with Rosalind and that Rosalind is to be found with Orlando because they are in love with each other.
At the end of the play the brothers are reunited and reconciled in the Forest of Arden, where Orlando saves Oliver from being killed by a lioness. Oliver has become a changed man. He promises Orlando that he will give him his estate and all its revenues (V.2) because he wants to marry Celia and live the life of a shepherd in the forest.
The amazing change that comes over the mean-spirited Oliver is comparable to that which comes over Duke Frederick when he meets a holy man who converts him and completely changes his aggressive, violent character. There is something mysterious about the Forest of Arden that works its spell on everyone who comes there.
William Shakespeare's As You Like It is a very witty comedy. Here, the characters of Orlando and Oliver are clearly distinguishable from each other.
Oliver is Orlando's elder brother. Both are the sons of late Sir Rowland de Bois. In the very beginning, we find out, in accordance with the rule of primogeniture in England, which instructs that all the property would be inherited by the eldest of the family, Orlando gets the possession of the belongings that his father leaves. Though, he was instructed to take proper care of Orlando, he, out of jealousy and loath, makes Orlando totally deprived. In fact, when the royal wrestler Charles is supposed to fight Orlando, Oliver leaps with joy thinking of the probable death of his brother. But, in Orlando, we find no such cruel feeling or motive. He is not even confident enough to stand on his own feet. He just flees away in fear of his brother.
Later in the play, when Oliver is attacked by a lioness in the forest of Arden, it is Orlando who rescues him. Orlando could have shown abhorrence or reacted vindictively by not saving Oliver, but he does not do so. Unlike Oliver, he proves to be a sensible brother and a good-natured human. And, at this point, his valour is also expressed.
Another notable point is that, Orlando's character develops gradually with the help of Ganymede, whereas Oliver's character faces a sudden change in the forest of Arden which is very miraculous.
Finally , the difference between the two brothers has clearly been depicted in the play, where Shakespeare's portrayal of Orlando is almost a mirror image of Oliver.
Oliver de Boys, Jaques de Boys and Orlando de Boys are the sons of Sir Rowland de Boys. Before Sir Rowland de Boys died he gave all his property to his elder son Oliver as per the traditions. In his fathers will Oliver was to look after his younger brothers. The will also asked Oliver to give them thousand crowns. But Oliver was envious of his brother Orlando because everyone including his servants liked Orlando better and so Oliver ill-treated his brother Orlando. But he send his other brother Jaques to school and treated him well.
This caused tension between the brothers and one day they had a fight and at the end Oliver was forced to give Orlando his thousand crowns. In the process Oliver tried to kill Orlando two times. Once by asking the wrestlers Charles to not only defeat but also kill Orlando in the wrestling match. When that mission failed he himself tries to kill Orlando by setting fire to his room while he is asleep. This mission too fails due to the timely warning of the servant Adam.
The two brothers did not meet each other for quite some time but after the flight of Rosalind and Celia the Duke asks Oliver to go in search of Orlando for the safety of his own life since he believes that the girls have ran away with Orlando.
Oliver in his search for Orlando ends up in the forest of Arden and there Orlando saved him from being killed by a huge poisonous snake and a lioness. This causes the softening of his attitude towards his brother.
This way at the beginning of the play Oliver was cross with his brother but by the end he started liking his brother.
It is clear that at the beginning of this excellent comedy Oliver and Orlando are not the best of friends, in spite of their sibling relationship. Note the way that in Act I scene 1 they fight, and Orlando, having his brother trapped in some kind of wrestling hold, tells us that his brother has committed the following crimes against him:
My father charged you in his will to give me good education. You have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentleman-like qualities. The spirit of my father grows strong in me, and I will no longer endure it!
Clearly the hatred that they feel for one another is expressed through their behaviour and the words they use for each other, such as when Oliver insultingly calls his brother a "boy" and he tells the Duke that he hates Orlando just as much as he does, knowing that this will be bad for his brother.
However, the power of the Forest of Arden to transform characters is shown strongly in Olvier's change of heart and his softening of his attitude towards Orlando. Through what he sees and learns in the forest, and through meeting Celia, he comes to love his brother and regret his past actions towards him, even wanting to give the estate and wealth of their father, that previously he had kept to himself, to Orlando alone:
It shall be to your good, for my father's house and all the revenue that was old Sir Rowland's will I estate upon you, and here live and die a shepherd.
Thus by the end of the play, one of the central conflicts, that between Orlando and Oliver, is resolved as they are restored to loving siblings, which is in direct contrast to how they began the play.
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