Discuss As You Like It as an example of pastoral literature and say what features of the pastoral mode lend themselves to social criticism.

As You Like It is an example of pastoral literature in being set largely in the idyllic Forest of Arden, which is portrayed as a place of innocence in contrast to the corrupt court of Duke Frederick. Features of the pastoral mode that lend themselves to social criticism include its artificiality, as the pastoral obscures the harsh realities of country or wilderness living.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Pastoral literature pits the corruptions of the city against the innocence of a natural setting. The natural world depicted in pastoral literature is not realistic. It is a dream world, a utopic vision of how beautiful a life freed from conventions and civilization might be.

As You Like It is pastoral in being set largely in the Forest of Arden, when Duke Senior has fled with his faithful courtiers when deposed by his younger brother, Duke Frederick. Rosalind, Duke Senior's daughter, and Celia, Duke Frederick's daughter, also escape to this forest. The refugees have a series of comic, enlightening, and romantic adventures in this pastoral paradise (though Shakespeare, to his credit, brings in ample reminders that winter will come: the idyll will not last forever). Nevertheless, everyone, in their own way and for a time, is liberated from the stifling conventions of the court.

The pastoral genre has been criticized by scholars such as Raymond Williams in The Country and the City for its...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 888 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on