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William Shakesper's As You Like It falls in the genre of romantic pastoral comdey setting its major actions in the Forest of Arden. Its is a play which delas with the theme of love, issues of brotherhood and violation of primogeniture. In a comedy,the characters are insignificant and laughable. But there is alo an exposure of flaw in characters and renewal of life and towards the end all obstructions and conflicts are ressolved. The same happens here, the conflicts raised at the begining are resolved at the end of the play. But the characters of Jaques seems to challenge the completeness of the closure achieved at the end of the comedy.
The forest of Arden which was considered to be perfect had a lot of ambiguties which the playwright brings out through the character of Jaques. In the forest, Jaques is presented as a melancholic character who gives cynical philosophical observations about life and characters in the play. this can be seen in Act 2 scene 5 ,where we see Jaques for the first time in the play mocking at the sentimental pastoralism of the courtiers who moralize the discomforts of exile into blessings. On this the Aimens plesantly says a pastoral ditty which is reduced into a parody by him.This shows us how Jaques as an observer and critic of life around him anticipates his role in the play.
Another instance in the play where Jaques is been shown as a pessimist and a cynic is when he delivers a sermon on the unhappiness of man and the passing nature of human life. He looks at the world in an episodic fashion dividing human life into seven stages underlying the hollowness of each stage. Even though he makes a poignant obseravtion on the dynamic transient temporal nature of life, he excludes from its scope from all that is beautiful and good in human life. This makes him a complex character whose behaviour is full of contradictio and inconsistencies.
There is also an instance in the play where Jaques vividly shows the flaw in the Forest of Arden. It is when Jaques laments on the action of killing the deer by the duke Senior in the forest. He says-"We are mer usurpers, tyrants ..to fright the animal and kill them up in their assingned native and dwelling place." This shows us how greed and slefisness are as as an integral part of pastoral society as court life.
Love which is at the centre of this pastoral idyll had also been at odds with Jaques. When he finds Orlando writing love sonnets on the bark of the tree he calls Orlando as "Signior love" and even says to him that-"The worst fault you have is to be in love ". This shows how honestly he tells Orlando that excess of love is a mere foolishness.
Moving towards the end of the play where jacques declines to join the dance "SO as to your pleasure, I am for other than for dancing measures" seems to challenge the completeness of the closure achived at the end of the comedy. He wants to perform the life of religious pfilosophical life of melancholy.
Thus even though the character of Jaques doesnot contribute to the main plot of the act, yet it enriches the play just by giving witty comments which helps us to understand both the perfection and imperfection present in a pastoral comedy.
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