Support the claim that love at first sight is the main theme of the play As You Like It.

Expert Answers
shakespeareguru eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare often has very different sorts of lovers in his comedies.  Some fall in love at first sight, some fall in love over time, some fall in love while in disguise, and some seem never to fall in love, only to engage in a battle of the sexes.  In As You Like It, though there are some elements of difference, all of the pairs of lovers could be said to fall in love at first sight, making this a major theme of the play.  Let's look at each pair of lovers.

  • Rosalind and Orlando. Though their love grows and is proven through their interaction in the Forest (when Rosalind is disguised as the boy Ganymede), their first feelings occur in Act One, scene ii, when they meet after Orlando wins the wrestling match.
  • Celia and Oliver do not meet until Act IV, scene iii in the Forest.  Celia is disguised as a shepherdess and Oliver has undergone a change of heart.  They also fall in love upon their meeting.
  • Phoebe (and Ganymede).  Phoebe has been pursued by Silvius throughout the play, but upon seeing Ganymede (Rosalind) she falls head over heels in love.  Being already in love with Orlando (and not actually a boy), Rosalind does not fall in love with Phoebe in return.
  • Touchstone and Audrey.  We do not see their meeting, but can assume that they are "in love" at first sight, since, upon their first entrance together in Act III, scene iii, they are a "couple."

The only lover who does not fit into the "love at first sight" thematic is Silvius, who has loved Phoebe steadfastly from before the story of the play.  His enduring love, in the face of the firm refusals of Phoebe, is the counterpoint to all the lovers who fall head over heels in an instant in the play As You Like It.

aartihelpdesk | Student

Excellent question ....I agree "love at first sight" is the main themes that outlines the entire play.

Love at first sight used and re-used throughout the entire story. Rosalind and Orlando met at the Duke's wrestling match at fell in love with each other. Oliver and Celia met with each other and immediately fell in love which is immensely surprising as it shows how much time can change one's nature(Oliver). The most absurd romance was that of Phoebe and Rosalind(as Ganymede) and their love-prate continues in the most absurd manner.

One may argue that Touchstone and Audrey fell in love at first sight which is a highly debatable issue. However, the certainly didn't fall in love at first which is clearly shown in the manner in which they were talking to each other; with Touchstone mocking Audrey but at the same time so very passionate about his love that he plays the role of a Romeo while stubbornly warning William to leave his girl. Silvius and Phoebe also lack any true evidence of love at first sight.

Hence love at first sight forms a major essence of the entire story and make the characters all the more wonderful and vibrant.

The entire love sequence can be summed up in Rosalind's dialogue regarding the sudden love between Oliver and Celia :-

" There was nothing so sudden but the fight of two rams, and Caesar's thrasonical brag of'I came, saw, and overcame'. "


Read the study guide:
As You Like It

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question