Under the Greenwood Tree

by Thomas Hardy

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Where is the Forest of Arden in As You Like It?

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According to "The Political Conscious of Shakespeare's As You Like It" by Andrew Barnaby, the Forest of Arden alludes to two different forests. Since the play is set in France, the forest evokes the French forest of Ardennes, a location far enough away from most Elizabethan theater-goers to seem exotic. It also, however, refers to the more nearby Forest of Arden in Warwickshire, England.

The main point, however, is that this forest is not meant to represent a literal place but rather a mythic, pastoral space that is supposed to evoke—and, at the same time, critique—an idyllic forest of the Golden Age.

In the Forest of Arden, the characters are freed from social constraints and are able to be who they truly are. Who people are—how they behave when they can do as they "like"—determines the nature of this space. If people behave well, it can be a paradise, but if not, the setting itself can not make the place heavenly.

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