A French Duke has been deprived of his throne by his younger brother Frederick, and is now living like old Robin Hood of England in the Forest of Arden with many merry men about him.
Similarly, another pair of brothers, the sons of Sir Roldand de Boys, are at odds. Oliver, the elder, though charged with his younger brother's education, keeps him "rustically at home," and the younger, Orlando, begins to rebel against this unnatural treatment.
Hearing that Orlando is planning to try his strength against Charles, the Duke's wrestling champion, Oliver incites Charles to foil his brother. Orlando, however, despite the fears of Ceila and Rosalind, wins the match.
When he learns that Orland is the son of an old friend of the banished Dukes, Frederick snubs Orlando instead of rewarding him.
Rosalind, already interested in Orlando, gives him her necklace. Frederick grows more angry and banishes Rosalind, whom he has tolerated as a companion for Celia. Celia and Rosalind plan to seek the old Duke in Arden. Rosalind, for safety, disguises herself as a boy and Touchstone, the jester, goes along as a companion.
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Watt, Homer. "Outlines of Shakespeare's Plays." New York: Harper, 1970
Orlando is in the orchard of his brother's house speaking with Adam, an old servant of the family. Orlando complains about the way his eldest brother Oliver treats him. Since Oliver is the eldest brother, he inherited all of Sir Rowland De Bois' estate as well as the responsibility for taking care of his younger brothers. Orlando is upset that he is kept away from school and forced to work with thOliver arrives and orders Orlando to do some work instead of standing idly around. Orlando spitefully tells Oliver that he has as much of their father's blood in him as Oliver does. Oliver angrily lunges at Orlando, who quickly grabs his older brother by the throat and holds him. Adam comes out of his hiding place and asks them to be patient with one another. Orlando replies that Oliver has denied him an education as befits his rank as a nobleman. He therefore asks Oliver to give him the small portion of money that Sir Rowland left him in the will (a thousand crowns) so that he may leave and seek his fortune elsewhere.
Oliver agrees to give Orlando a part of his inheritance and then turns to Adam and tells him to "Get you with him, you old dog" (1.1.69). Adam is offended to be treated thus after his many years of service to the family and leaves with Orlando.
Oliver meets with Charles, the Duke's wrestler, and asks what is happening at court. Charles tells him it is the same old news, namely the new Duke has banished his brother the old Duke. The old Duke left with several lords and now lives in the forest of Ardenne where "they live like the old Robin Hood of England" (1.1.100-101). Rosalind, the old Duke's daughter, has remained at court with her cousin, the new Duke's daughter.
Charles then informs Oliver that he has learned that Orlando plans to challenge him the next day in the Duke's presence. Since Charles is fighting for his reputation, he indicates that he might end up hurting Orlando and he hopes that Oliver can dissuade his brother from challenging. Oliver cruelly tells Charles that Orlando has been plotting against his life, and that if Charles defeats Orlando but does not seriously injure him then Orlando will likely plot against him as well. Charles promises to hurt Orlando as much as possible, to the point where he cannot walk anymore.scene 1 act 1e animals at home. The see Oliver coming and Adam quickly hides.