Explain how Shakespeare has struck a balance of romance and comedy in As You Like It.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In As You Like It Shakespeare balances romance and comedy by wrapping the romance in the comedy through comedic antics that flow naturally from the character's temperament and personality traits and through situational irony. For instance, Orlando, distractedly in love with Rosalind, goes (or as he says, runs) around Arden forest attaching badly written poetry to trees and carving "Rosalind" in the bark of trees. This is pretty funny, and it flows naturally from the traits we learn about him earlier: he is exuberant; daring; full of energy; and poorly educated (which explains the bad poetry).

Another instance is that Rosalind, who is at first all distraught to think that Orlando might catch her in her man's clothing, takes advantage of the confessions of love Orlando makes while she and Celia are eavesdropping and plays a protracted and very silly joke on Orlando. This flows from what we already know of her traits: she is romantic and can be silly; she is courageous and assertive; she is playful and enjoys word play.

The situational irony in which she, of course, knows her identity while Orlando doesn't, adds to the amusement of Rosalind/Ganymede's teasing joke played on Orlando while also moving the romance forward. In the joke as she contrived it, Orlando pretends to be courting Rosalind while he is talking to Ganymede, so the audience learns his romantic sentiments.

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