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What are some of the themes in Shakespeare's As You Like It?

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anktrvd | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 18, 2010 at 12:11 PM via web

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What are some of the themes in Shakespeare's As You Like It?

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chicagorilke23 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted February 21, 2010 at 6:59 AM (Answer #1)

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In As You Like It, one theme is love, while another theme is nature. In Shakespeare’s play, nature serves as a sanatorium of sorts for those that enter the Forest of Arden. Just as people many years ago sought the comfort, fresh air and health of the country or nature, so do the characters of As You Like It, seek similar refuge in the forest. The Old Court is filled with jealousy and conspiracy. It is not a healthy place for any of the characters to be due to envious family members and their selfish actions toward others in court.

Since Duke Senior is banished by his brother Duke Frederick, he retreats to the Forest of Arden. Though his daughter Rosalind remains behind, she upsets Duke Frederick and is also banished from the kingdom. Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter, decides to flee with Rosalind to the Forest of Arden; however, Rosalind does so disguised as a man- Ganymede, while Celia sports the new name of Aliena. The forest is where they and Orlando- son of Sir Rowland and brother to Oliver, Adam- an old servant, flee to as well.

Orlando flees the jealousy and conspiring Oliver who means to kill him. Interestingly enough, the Forest of Arden is also where Orland leaves his message of love to Rosalind, now disguised as Ganymede. After purchasing pastures and herds from the shepherds- Corin and Silvius, Celia and Rosalind begin a new life for themselves. Touchstone also starts anew, and falls for Audrey- a country wench. Nature provides an adequate and open space for wooing and the mind to wander. The minds of the characters within the forest begin to think in a more free fashion than it would in the Old Court.

Ganymede convinces Orlando to woo him as he would his beloved Rosalind. The hope is that it would give confidence and practice to the young Orlando while also showing him that love begins in friendship. If he is able to woo a friend like Ganymede, he would see that it would be just as easy to woo Rosalind and win her friendship along with her affections. Lucky for Orlando, he’s killing two birds with one stone seeing as Rosalind and Ganymede is the same person.

In the end, we see how love spawned by the visit to the Forest of Auden, leads to resolutions by the end of the play. In the end, Orlando saves Oliver from a lion which leads to the brothers resolving any differences. Oliver also takes a liking to Celia after telling both her and Rosalind the tale of the lion. Rosalind then reveals that she is really Ganymede, thus ensuring the love of Orlando and Rosalind. Finally, marriages take place uniting both family and kingdom. The renewal of family bonds and love forge a New Court with the offspring leading the way with new love and fresh minds.

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jayanthy | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted June 30, 2010 at 12:57 AM (Answer #2)

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Theme of Love,Theme of Female Bonding,Them of cross-dressing, theme of Reconciliation,The main theme is love where a beautiful and charismatic heroine falls in love, ending in marriage overcoming all difficulties- Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Silivius and Phebe, Touchstone and Audrey. In the beginning we see a bit of Petrarchan love between Orlando and Rosalind. The theme of Female Bonding is brought out clearly in the unconditional love between Rosalind and Celia which is very noteworthy.The bonding between the cousins is set against the jealousy between the brothers-m Oliver and Orlando.Rosandlind deciding to dress like a man while leaving Duke Frederick's court is a structural neccesity without which the comic spirit of the play could not have been maitained.The theme of reconciliation is brought in to create good atmosphere. The lovers find their mates, Duke Frederick gives back dukedom to Duke senior in an act of Repentence and Oliver reconcilise with Orlando.

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