Which "side" did Shakespeare favor in the play's division between town and country?

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As You Like It is a genial satire of the pastoral romance genre, and plainly Shakespeare recognized that his London audiences would enjoy humor at the expense of bucolic pretensions and country bumpkins. Even before we enter the forest we are told that Duke Senior and his exiled court live off the land "like Robin Hood" in a "golden age." The Duke and his men are a merry crew, but the forest has its hardships, and the play clearly punctures romantic myths surrounding idealized living in a primitive realm. This is evident in the rather foolish passion of the shepherd youth Silvius for his beloved Phebe. Shakespeare does furnish us with a positive picture of country life in the person of Corin, a "real" shepherd who apprises Rosalind of the deprivations and drudgery of his bucolic vocation (see Act II, scene iv., ll.73-84). But in Corin himself, Shakespeare provides praise for the rural: Corin is a down-to-earth type, hospitable to strangers according to his limited means, and is completely unmoved by Touchstone's jabs at the simple joys of living outside the pale of court and refined civilization.

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As You Like It

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