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In As You Like It by Shakespeare, what are situations that define and accentuate the...

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meghalibanerjee | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted November 10, 2012 at 3:23 PM via web

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In As You Like It by Shakespeare, what are situations that define and accentuate the theme of Usurpation and Injustice?

Usurpation (noun):

1. The act of usurping, especially the wrongful seizure of royal sovereignty.

2. A wrongful seizure or exercise of authority or privilege belonging to another; an encroachment: (American Heritage Dictionary)

Injustice (noun):

1. Violation of another's rights or of what is right; lack of justice.
2. A specific unjust act; a wrong. (American Heritage Dictionary)

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted November 10, 2012 at 4:42 PM (Answer #1)

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It appears you want the dual theme, Usurpation and Injustice. The prime example of this, which accords with the definition "wrongful seizure of royal sovereignty," is Duke Frederick's seizure of Duke Senior's kingdom. Celia describes the usurpation in a backwards hypothetical situation to try to inspire Rosalind to brighter spirits. I'll quote this in an annotated fashion:

Celia [to Rosalind]. If my uncle, thy banished father [Duke Senior], had banished thy uncle, the duke my father [Duke Frederick], so [long as] thou hadst been still with me, I could have taught my love to take thy father for mine [Rosalind take reigning Duke Frederick to replace her usurped father Duke Senior] (I.ii)

This situation is a classic power usurpation of a younger royal brother overthrowing a reigning older brother. We can only suppose it was done for power and from a desire to dominate because Frederick rules with viciousness:

Duke Frederick. Find out thy brother, wheresoe'er he is; Seek him with candle; bring him dead or living (III.i)

Frederick's viciousness is, in this quote, directed against Orlando (whose crime was winning a wrestling match) whom Frederick unjustly wants punished in the severest way possible: "bring him dead or living." Thus Frederick provides the encapsulation of Usurpation and Injustice. If you want the theme of Injustice separately, you have but to look to Rosalind's exile from Frederick's court--an exile Celia volunteers to join in--and to Orlando's forced flight from his murderous brother, Oliver (II.iii):

Oliver. O that your highness knew my heart in this! I never loved my brother in my life. (III.1)

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