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Orlando is the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys. In Shakespeare's time, primogeniture was custom, which gave all inheritance to the oldest son and left the younger sons to find their own fortune. However, it was commonplace for a father's will to include something towards the education and sustenance of those younger sons. This is the case with the will of the deceased de Boys. However, Oliver, the oldest son, has withheld from Orlando the money that he should have. Thus, Orlando has not been able to receive the education he should have as a gentleman. Orlando can not go out to make his fortune, therefore, and is totally at the mercy of Oliver.
In Act I, scene ii, Orlando decides to fight Charles the wrestler. His explanation to the ladies is as follows: "I come
but in, as others do, to try with him the strength of my youth." Audiences are left to assume that Orlando, having nothing else to his name, is eager to prove himself in any way that he can - and he does.
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