What is the character sketch of Touchstone in As You Like It?

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In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Touchstone is a fool, or jester, in Duke Frederick's household. Duke Frederick is a serious, no-nonsense, villainous character in the play, and this might explain why Touchstone is restrained in his foolishness and is not given to wild antics, practical jokes, or outlandish pranks.

Touchstone is highly educated, intelligent, and witty, not at all naive or buffoonish. He frequently plays on words—using the multiple meanings of words to suit his arguments—but unlike other Shakespearean fools, Touchstone rarely makes puns and is rarely bawdy simply for sake of being bawdy.

Touchstone's witty arguments are based on observation and logical deduction, and he's not mean-spirited, even when he threatens to kill Audrey's suitor, William, "a hundred and fifty ways." (5.2.7)

When Rosalind and Celia steal Touchstone from Duke Frederick to accompany them and protect them in the Forest of Arden, Touchstone accepts the responsibility—if not wholeheartedly, at least with a good heart.

TOUCHSTONE: Ay, now am I in Arden; the more fool I; when I was at
home I was in a better place; but travellers must be content. (2.4.15–17)

He's modest, or he appears to be so . . .

TOUCHSTONE: Nay, I shall ne'er be ware of mine own wit till I break
my shins against it. (2.4.57–58)

Jaques, who is not easily impressed by anyone, says to Duke Senior,

JAQUES: Is not this a rare fellow, good my lord? He is as good at anything, and yet a fool. (5.4.108–109)

One of Touchstone's faults, if it is a fault, is his infatuation with Audrey, which leads to what might well turn out to be a troubled marriage.

Audrey has difficulty comprehending most of what Touchstone says, and it's probably only a matter of time before Touchstone gets tired of the bucolic life with Audrey and yearns to go back to court.

Touchstone sums up his feelings about this in a speech to Corin when they are comparing country living to life at court:

TOUCHSTONE: Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good
life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is nought.
In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in
respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in
respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect
it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a spare life,
look you, it fits my humour well; but as there is no more plenty
in it, it goes much against my stomach. (3.2.13–21)

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