What is the part played by Forest of Arden in As You Like it ?

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The Forest of Arden is represented as an enchanted place which changes everybody who comes there. It has already made a change in Duke Senior and his loyal followers. They have become relaxed and mellowed by their contact with nature. It would have been difficult for Shakespeare to create the illusion of a forest on his stage. He probably only used hangings of branches and leaves. The forest illusion was created more with the rustic costumes of all the characters. Their clothing would be in sharp contrast to the formal attire seen in royal courts. Even the cruel, selfish Oliver, brother to Orlando, is transformed by coming to the Forest of Arden. He decides to stay there, marry Celia, and live a simple life.

There is a deep truth to this play. Many contemporary people love to get away from urban life and spend time at the beach or in the mountains in order to get rid of the stress that builds up in "civilization." Some will go to Hawaii or Tahiti. Lots of hard-working professionals love to go skiing in the mountains in winter. Nature has a healing power, as William Wordsworth taught in so many of his poems.

The setting included not only a forest but also fields of grazing sheep and rustic cottages occupied by simple peasants. The entire atmosphere of the Forest of Arden and its environs is one of tranquility and love. Shakespeare called his play "As You Like It" because that is how we would all like the whole world to be.

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