Please explain the "thousand similes" of Jaques in Act II, Sc.I of As You Like It.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The First Lord offers specific examples of the "thousand similes" that Jacques used in moralizing on the spectacle of the wounded deer seeming to drop big tears into the stream. For example, Jacques says to the animal:

"Poor deer, . . . thou mak'st a testament

As worldlings do, giving the sum of more

To that which had too much."

The deer is dropping tears in the stream which is already full of water. Humans often leave their estates to heirs who already have more money than they need.

Next, Jacques moralizes on the stag's being left alone now that it is in trouble.

"'Tis right," quoth he, "thus misery doth part

The flux of company."

Then when a small herd of deer runs by without paying attention to their wounded comrade, Jacques says:

"Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens,

'Tis just the fashion; wherefore do you look

Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?"

Jacques likes to make comparisons between natural phenomena and human society, to the detriment of the latter. These are three examples of his "thousand similes." They might be called a thousand comparisons or a thousand specific illustrations of philosophical truths.

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As You Like It

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