Write a brief character sketch of Touchstone and comment on his role in As You Like It.

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Touchstone, from Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It, is the court fool who accompanies Celia and Rosalind into the forest after they are banished. Like many of Shakespeare's "fool" characters, Touchstone is deceptively wise. His wit provides comic relief throughout the play, while his wisdom provides balance. He...

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Touchstone, from Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It, is the court fool who accompanies Celia and Rosalind into the forest after they are banished. Like many of Shakespeare's "fool" characters, Touchstone is deceptively wise. His wit provides comic relief throughout the play, while his wisdom provides balance. He points out the absurdities, first of courtly life and then of pastoral life in the woods. Celia and Rosalind decide to bring him along on their journey into the forest of Arden as a "comfort to [their] travels," knowing his jests will keep their spirits light as they go, and he agrees out of loyalty to Celia.

From this we know that Touchstone is loyal, witty, and clever. We can add to this list that he is prone to complaining. We also get a bit of a character sketch of Touchstone from the mouth of the character Jaques, who is delighted to have met a fool in the forest. In his act 2, scene 7 speech, Jaques describes Touchstone as

A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool
Who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun,
And rail'd on Lady Fortune in good terms,
In good set terms and yet a motley fool.

Jaques came upon Touchstone in a moment of melancholy, "moral[ing] on the time," and even in his own state of sadness, Touchstone managed to make Jaques laugh and lift his spirits.

Also of note: Unlike Shakespeare's other fools, Touchstone also gets a bit of a romantic subplot all to himself. He meets, courts, and eventually marries a country girl named Audrey.

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Touchstone is the fool in As You Like It. The Shakespearean fool has the role of revealing information about important characters and acting as a vehicle for important characters to reveal what they think and feel. This is precisely what Touchstone does, although his role is a little expanded since he talks to almost everyone from Corin the old shepherd to Jaques the melancholy.

Touchstone likes to complain but he does it in word play that turns praise upside down so it ends up as a complaint, as when he tells Corin that the "lean" country life of scant food agrees with him then winds up by saying that it is hard on his stomach, which is apparently always hungry. He is also very clever and witty, engaging is word play and puns at all opportunities.

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