How does court life contrast with rural life in Shakespeare's As You Like It?

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stefaniecpeters eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As You Like It is heavily concerned with the contrasts between court and rural life. In it, characters from the court retire into the country and meet there characters who have always lived in the Forest of Arden.

A good place to look to see the contrast between the court and the country is 1.3 and 2.1. 1.3 is both the last scene in the first act and the last scene that takes place in the court of Duke Frederick. In it, Rosalind is banished by her uncle, the Duke, because he believes her to be a traitor. The court is shown to be a cold, jealous place, and the warmth of Rosalind and Celia's relationship contrasts with the behavior of the other characters.

Shakespeare no doubt meant the next scene, 2.1, to contrast with the previous. It is the first scene where we meet Duke Senior, Rosalind's father and Duke Frederick's brother. No doubt the difference between the brothers is meant to be contrasted as well as the difference between court and country. The Duke paints the Forest as an idyllic place, where his men are like brothers and they are free from peril.

One other good place to look to see a comedic take on the difference between court and country is in 3.2, where Touchstone the court clown and Corin the country clown talk about whether the country or the court life is better.

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As You Like It

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