What is the relationship between Oliver and Orlando in the beginning and at the end of the play?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will have to expand on any answer you receive from eNotes editors, most of whom are teachers. They help students with writing assignments but will not do the assignments for them. Typical eNotes answers only run to about 100 words.

Because of the law of primogeniture, Oliver is in full control of the estate of the deceased father of these three brothers. Oliver is selfish and arrogant. He deprives his brother Orlando, the youngest brother, of anything but a bare subsistence and withholds money he was obliged to pay him on their father's death. The relationship between them at the beginning of the play was so hostile that Orlando was tempted to attack Oliver physically and Oliver tried to get Charles the professional wrestler to kill or maim Orlando in their forthcoming bout. At the end, because this play is admittedly a fantasy and a romance, the two brothers are reconciled when Orlando saves Oliver's life, and Oliver decides to remain in the Forest of Arden and turn over the family estate to Orlando.

If you want to expand on this information, you might explain primogeniture, comment on its unfairness to younger brothers, explain why Oliver has to travel to the Forest of Arden, how Orlando saves him, how Oliver decides to marry Celia, and comment on the credibility of the change in the relationship between the brothers.



shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The best way to approach your essay is to look at the relationship of the two brothers.  Oliver is the eldest, then there is Jaques, and finally Orlando.

Ask yourself why Oliver treats Orlando as he does.  Is he jealous?  Is he greedy?  Does he enjoy the power he has over his younger brother?  If so, why does he enjoy this power?  How influential is Duke Fredrick in Oliver's attitudes?  Shakespeare does not directly tell us but by looking into what Oliver says and his actions, speculation is possible.

It appears that the Forest of Arden has healing properties since both Oliver and Duke Fredrick have a change of heart once they enter it.

I would recommend that you check out the enotes link on character analysis to help you understand their relationship and why they behave as they do and why there is a change from Act I to Act V. 

fiveonefiveone | Student

In the beginning they have a bad relationship. Oliver does not send orlando to school,does not gives him his money and various other things but in the end when oliver is saved by orlando he becomes guility about his wrong doings and love prevails between them.

rockstarbuddy | Student

Oliver de Boys, Jaques de Boys and Orlando de Boys are the sons of Sir Rowland de Boys. Before Sir Rowland de Boys died he gave all his property to his elder son Oliver as per the traditions. In his fathers will Oliver was to look after his younger brothers. The will also asked Oliver to give them thousand crowns. But Oliver was envious of his brother Orlando because everyone including his servants liked Orlando better and so Oliver ill-treated his brother Orlando. But he send his other brother Jaques to school and treated him well.

This caused tension between the brothers and one day they had a fight and at the end Oliver was forced to give Orlando his thousand crowns. In the process Oliver tried to kill Orlando two times. Once by asking the wrestlers Charles to not only defeat but also kill Orlando in the wrestling match. When that mission failed he himself tries to kill Orlando by setting fire to his room while he is asleep. This mission too fails due to the timely warning of the servant Adam.

The two brothers did not meet each other for quite some time but after the flight of Rosalind and Celia the Duke asks Oliver to go in search of Orlando for the safety of his own life since he believes that the girls have ran away with Orlando.

Oliver in his search for Orlando ends up in the forest of Arden and there Orlando saved him from being killed by a huge poisonous snake and a lioness. This causes the softening of his attitude towards his brother.

This way at the beginning of the play Oliver was cross with his brother but by the end he started liking his brother.

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As You Like It

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