What plot does Oliver hatch against Orlando?
Orlando's grievances against his brother are pretty much encapsulated in the following passage of dialogue in Act 1, Scene 1. Orlando becomes so irate while arguing with his selfish and arrogant brother, who has inherited their father's estate under the law of primogeniture, that he grabs hold of him and threatens him with bodily harm. Oliver is weaker than the powerful Orlando and cannot break free. When he indignantly orders Orlando to take his hands off him. Orlando responds:
I will not, till I please: you shall hear me. My father
charged you in his will to give me good education: you have
trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all
gentleman-like qualities: the spirit of my father grows strong in
me, and I will no longer endure it: therefore, allow me such
exercises as may become a gentleman, or give me the poor
allottery my father left me by testament; with that I will go
buy my fortunes.
Oliver is not only angered by being manhandled by his younger brother, but he is reluctant to part with the money their father left to Orlando in his will. The amount, as Orlando tells Adam earlier, was one thousand crowns. Oliver hopes to save the money and get revenge on Orlando by inciting the professional wrestler Charles to kill or maim Orlando in their upcoming match. He tells Charles a pack of lies about Orlando, as follows:
I'll tell thee,
Charles, it is the stubbornest young fellow of France; full of
ambition, an envious emulator of every man's good parts, a secret
and villainous contriver against me his natural brother:
therefore use thy discretion: I had as lief thou didst break his
neck as his finger. And thou wert best look to't; for if thou
dost him any slight disgrace, or if he do not mightily grace
himself on thee, he will practise against thee by poison, entrap thee by some treacherous device, and never leave thee till he hath ta'en thy life by some indirect means or other.
This, in essence, is the plot that Oliver hatches against Orlando, and it is foiled when Orlando beats Charles in their match. Charles assures Oliver that he will not only beat Orlando in the upcoming match but leave him crippled. It looks as though Orlando is in for a severe beating, since Charles is a professional wrestler and Orlando is only an amateur. Charles' prowess and acumen are foreshadowed in Act 1, Scene 2, when Le Beau, a dandified courtier, tells Rosalind and Celia how Charles has just thrashed three other challengers so badly that they may never recover.
The eldest of the three wrestled with Charles, the duke's
wrestler; which Charles in a moment threw him, and broke three of his ribs, that there is little hope of life in him: so he served
the second, and so the third.
It turns out that the next challenger is to wrestle with Charles right where Rosalind and Celia are standing, which is a place described at the beginning of Act 1, Scene 2 as a lawn before the Duke's palace. Though both girls are a bit squeamish about watching such a violent contest, they are also curious enough to stay. This is where Rosalind and Orlando fall in love at first sight; and their fortunes constitute the main plot of the play, with several sub-plots intertwined. But Rosalind and Orlando are prevented from pursuing the acquaintanceship in the first act of the play. The Duke has banished Rosalind from his court and patronage, and she is planning to go to the Forest of Arden to find her father, the former Duke who was usurped by his brother Duke Frederick. In Act 2, Scene 3, Adam, the faithful old family servant warns Orlando that he must flee for his life because his brother Oliver intends to murder him. Quite by accident, Orlando and Rosalind will meet again in the Forest of Arden, but Rosalind will be disguised as a young man called Ganymede.