(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

In its combination of the romantic and the rustic, THE BEGGARS’ BUSH is very much like AS YOU LIKE IT, although greatly inferior to it in other respects. Many of the staples of Elizabethan romance are present: nobility in disguise, a villainous usurper, and a contrast between the falsehood and sterility of the court on the one hand and the truth and beauty of the country on the other. The pastoral element is particularly noticeable, for it is in the forest that lovers are united, villains confounded, and men of true heart vindicated. Although the romantic episodes are highly entertaining, the play draws its real strength from the characters of the beggars, whose broad humor counterbalances the more delicate and artificial atmosphere of romance.