What are universal truths found in Shakespeare's As You Like It?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two universal truths portrayed in As You Like It concern the injustice of usurpation and even injustice in general. We especially see the injustice of usurpation portrayed through Frederick's treatment of Duke Senior. Not only has Duke Senior and his courtiers been exiled to live in the woods through all kinds of weather, even the harshness of winter, but even his daughter Rosalind is soon exiled as well. Though the characters make the best of it as it is a comedy, the fact still remains that they do have to undergo tribulations due to cruelty and injustice. We especially see the hardships endured being described in Duke Senior's first speech:

Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body ...

In these lines, though he remains cheerful and optimistic, Duke Senior is describing the harshness of the winter weather that he and his exiled courtiers must endure, showing us that not only is the treatment of usurpation and injustice being portrayed as universal truths, but so is the harshness of life being portrayed as a universal truth.

Another character who suffers from usurpation and injustice is Orlando. Orlando's eldest brother Oliver has refused to give Orlando the thousand crowns their father left for Orlando in his will and has also refused to see to Orlando's education as a gentleman, thereby usurping Orlando of his legal rights. What's more, out of jealousy, Oliver tries to kill Orlando twice after Orlando confronts Oliver concerning his poor treatment. Oliver's treatment of Orlando is of course another reminder that both usurpation and injustice are common treatments in the world, making these types of treatments universal truths.

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As You Like It

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