In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Act II, scene i, why is it reported that Duke Senior is as guilty as Duke Frederick?DUKE SENIOR     Come, shall we go and kill us venison?    And yet it irks...

In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Act II, scene i, why is it reported that Duke Senior is as guilty as Duke Frederick?

DUKE SENIOR

    Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
    And yet it irks me the poor dappled fools,
    Being native burghers of this desert city,
    Should in their own confines with forked heads
    Have their round haunches gored.

First Lord

    Indeed, my lord,
    The melancholy Jaques grieves at that,
    And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
    Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.
    To-day my Lord of Amiens and myself
    Did steal behind him as he lay along
    Under an oak whose antique root peeps out
    Upon the brook that brawls along this wood:
    To the which place a poor sequester'd stag,
    That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
    Did come to languish, and indeed, my lord,
    The wretched animal heaved forth such groans
    That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
    Almost to bursting, and the big round tears
    Coursed one another down his innocent nose
    In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool
    Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
    Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
    Augmenting it with tears. (II.i)

Asked on by avalonaud

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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[eNotes allows only one question per post.]

As you can see from the excerpt in the Question Box, Duke Senior has suggested to one of his exiled Lords that they go hunt a deer for their supper: "Come, shall we go and kill us venison?" Duke Senior then immediately laments the need to kill the forest deer. He sadly suggests that deer, being the native inhabitants of the men's forest exile home, which he calls a "desert city" (desert: uninhabited region (Collins Dictionary)), are unkindly treated by being hunted by him and his men while their in their own forest hide-a-way:

yet it irks me the poor dappled fools [deer],
Being native burghers of this desert city [native to the forest],
...
Have their round haunches gored [are hunted].

When you ask about Duke Senior being "as guilty as Duke Frederick," you are asking about what First Lord replies to Duke Senior in response to his lament about deer. What does First Lord say?

First Lord says that he and Jaques agree with the Duke's sentiment about the deer and Jaques "grieves" over hunting deer: "Indeed, ... / Jaques grieves at that." First Lord goes on to say that, in fact, Jaques asserts that Duke Senior kills more deer than Duke Frederick does: "in that kind, swears you do more usurp / Than doth your brother."

To make this plainer, let's define a couple of words. "Kind" in this context is a noun, not an adjective, meaning a group or class of things that have characteristics in common (Collins Dictionary). You can see now that "in that kind" means "regarding the hunting of deer." A paraphrase of the lines would be: "Yes, Duke, Jacques grieves about hunting deer, and, in regards to hunting deer,..."

"Usurp" is a verb meaning to forcibly take or hold without proper authority to do so (Random House Dictionary). You can see that "you do more usurp" means that Duke Senior very often seizes or takes hold of forest deer. A paraphrase of this phrase would be: "you more often take deer."

The rest of the relevant quotation forms an analogy. An analogy compares two things to each other. This analogy is a quantitative one assigning "more" and implying "less" to the two persons compared: "you do more usurp / Than doth your brother." First Lord is saying that Jaques asserts that Duke Senior takes more deer than Duke Frederick takes: thus Duke Frederick takes less. Therefore Duke Senior is more guilty. If the comment about Duke Senior were "you do as much usurp," then the analogy would assert Duke Senior was "as guilty as" Duke Frederick. But it does not assert this: it asserts Duke Senior is more guilty.

To recap and provide a paraphrase of all the lines, what is Duke Senior more guilty of? He is more guilty of hunting deer in their native forest lair.

QUOTE
Indeed, my lord,
The melancholy Jaques grieves at that,
And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.

  • PARAPHRASE
  • I agree Duke, in fact, Jaques grieves over the number of deer we hunt for venison, and, in regards to hunting deer, he swears you take more deer from their quiet forest lairs than your brother Frederick does, and he is the one who banished you!
Sources:

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