As You Like It Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

As You Like It book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Contrast between rural life/court life and Orlando/Oliver in As You Like It.

Expert Answers info

William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,416 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Orlando is the youngest of three brothers, but he is much bigger and stronger than the oldest brother Oliver. Perhaps this is one reason Oliver dislikes Orlando so intensely and why he tries to belittle him and to maintain such a superior attitude towards him.

At the beginning of As You Like It Oliver and Orlando hate each other. Orlando is resentful because Oliver refuses to help him improve his education but treats him like a peasant. He says:

My father charged you in his will to give me good education: you have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentlemanlike qualities.

Oliver actually encourages the wrestler Charles to kill Orlando in their upcoming bout, but Orlando wins and then is forced to flee because he learns that Oliver has further plans to kill him.

Duke Frederick orders Oliver to pursue Orlando because he believes Rosalind and Celia have run off with him and he blames this on Oliver. The Duke's reason for blaming Oliver is that he suspects him of plotting to...

(The entire section contains 6 answers and 1,732 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Madelyn Truitt eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write926 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Keri Sadler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write867 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Science, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

malibrarian eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write722 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

nerdysexyme | Student

To get a detailed study of the difference, visit the below links

jesline | Student

Oliver de Boys, Jaques de Boys and Orlando de Boys are the sons of Sir Rowland de Boys. Before Sir Rowland de Boys died he gave all his property to his elder son Oliver as per the traditions. In his fathers will Oliver was to look after his younger brothers. The will also asked Oliver to give them thousand crowns. But Oliver was envious of his brother Orlando because everyone including his servants liked Orlando better and so Oliver ill-treated his brother Orlando. But he send his other brother Jaques to school and treated him well.

This caused tension between the brothers and one day they had a fight and at the end Oliver was forced to give Orlando his thousand crowns. In the process Oliver tried to kill Orlando two times. Once by asking the wrestlers Charles to not only defeat but also kill Orlando in the wrestling match. When that mission failed he himself tries to kill Orlando by setting fire to his room while he is asleep. This mission too fails due to the timely warning of the servant Adam.

The two brothers did not meet each other for quite some time but after the flight of Rosalind and Celia the Duke asks Oliver to go in search of Orlando for the safety of his own life since he believes that the girls have ran away with Orlando.

Oliver in his search for Orlando ends up in the forest of Arden and there Orlando saved him from being killed by a huge poisonous snake and a lioness. This causes the softening of his attitude towards his brother.

This way at the beginning of the play Oliver was cross with his brother but by the end he started liking his brother.

trz10011996 | Student

are u frm a skul based on icse board.. even i am .. nd ia m also facing problems wid as u like it ..

fayean | Student

Firstly, those banished from court life seek and find refuge in rural life (in the Forest of Arden). The characters escape their court life woes and are free from the restraints of this lifestyle - both sets of brothers (Oliver and Orlando, Duke Senior and Frederick) part ways - the evil brothers maintain their court lives, and "the benevolent, wronged brothers create an alternative "green" world in the Forest of Arden" (Dolan, F. in Introduction of AYLI Pelican edition). In the opening of the play, court life appears full of coruption, with Oliver having control over Orlando and denying him an education.

The forest of Arden, in contrast, is full of possibilities. Characters constantly speak in conditionals - as Touchstone remarks "Your If is the only peacemaker. Much virtue in If." (V, iv, 101). Rosalind and Celia play with the endless possibilities that the forest presents with their disguises (dressing up as Ganyemede and Aliena) and it is through her disguise that Rosalind can ask Orlando to imagine that 'he' (Ganyemede) is "your very very Rosalind" (IV, i, 65-66).

The forest is also a romantic setting with many characters falling in love (act 2 scene 4 is good to discuss here - they talk about love and that the forest brings it out in them). Orlando proclaims his love for Rosalind by carving her name on trees in the forest.

In AYLI there is also a lot of music ("AYLI contains more songs than any other Shakespeare play." -Dolan), but this is only in the forest. The characters sing and dance when in the forest (act 2 scene 5, act 2 scene 7, act 4 scene 2, act 5 scene 3, act 5 scene 4), but never in the palace or any other 'court-life' setting in the play.

The characters also verbalise the pros of rural life vs court life (act 2 scene 1 is a great scene for this: "Hath not old custom made this life more sweet/ Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods/ More free from peril than the envious court?" etc).

However, I think it's a little more complicated than it originally seems. While all of these things contribute to the forest/rural life = good, court life = bad idea, the forest still has many dangers. During the Elizabethan period the word 'wilderness' conjured up images of over-grown and uncoltivated forest. "To many, [largescale deforestation] symbolized the triumph of civilisation. Forests had originally been synonymous with wildness and danger, as the word ‘savage’ (from silva, a wood) reminds us." (Thomas, K., Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984)) Those who have escaped to Arden must also hunt for themselves in order to survive (act 2 scene 1 reminds us that in order for one species to survive, another must perish - Jaques is made fun of, as he, like the dying deer is sad and pathetic, however this scene shows that forest life is not all fun and games for everyone).

Dolan says something very note-worthy I think: "This pastoral place is not an alternative to civilisation, "nature" as opposed to "culture". Instead, it is a place where the denizens of the court go to renew themselves, and where they literally leave their mark."

I'm just about to write an essay on a similar subject for uni, and haven't quite finished planning yet, so my thoughts are a bit all over the place at the moment. Sorry!