As You Like It Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

As You Like It book cover
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Can you explain the social and cultural influences within the play As You Like It?

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gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is social commentary all throughout the play As You Like It. It starts with the interweaving of the athletic competition (the wrestling) with the court politics. Linking those two so directly essentially allows Shakespeare an embodied metaphor: social life, especially court life, is a dishonest struggle.

The contrast between the two settings is both social commentary and evidence of a historical influence on Shakespeare from without; the ideal of a pure setting in the country vs. a corrupt court or city setting was very old even in his time. Add to this the upset of the Duke living in the forest and we get a commentary on social life that is out of balance.

Jaques' famous "All the world's a stage" speech indicates a sophisticated, even cynical, philosophy on life that allows a gap between how things are and how they seem. Rosalind's disguise underscores this, but gives social weight to why someone, especially a woman, might need to be other than she appears.

Finally, since the play involves a renewal of society from a fallen state, it is considered a Christian play.


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revolution | Student

The main character, Jacquer philosophizes a lot on the stages on human life when man changes from a child into manhood and becomes a courageous and an extraordinary type of person. He also talks about the life in the city and the life in the country, contrasting both the environment and the way of life. It also deals with love, telling that love is a plague that would haunt you for your rest of your life, like an infectious disease.