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In this play, one of Shakespeare's most popular, the Forest of Arden is both an actual location and a source of rich metaphorical symbolism. It is here that unrequited love is solidified, and where people who have been unable to express their feelings find themselves emboldened to say what's in their hearts. One strong theme that emphasizes the idealism of the countryside is the concept of the pastoral: a world where daily life is steeped in the simple rhythms of nature: caring for flocks. Silvius, Phebe, and Audrey exemplify the nature of simple country folk, although in the case of Silvius and Phebe they aspire to a greater level of romanticism than the more rustic and less ambitious Audrey.
Despite his devotion to her, Phebe rejects Silvius when she meets and falls in love with Ganymede (Rosalind in disguise), due to the latter's fine speaking and sophisticated manners. In this way, the court does bring a form of cynical "corruption" to the forest, because if not for Ganymede's presence, it is likely Silvius would not have had such trouble wooing Phebe, whose initial rejection of him seems mere moodiness and petulance.
But Ganymede defines for everyone what the noble nature of love is, when her famous speech to Orlando on the symptoms of love emphasizes the presence of "true lovers" in the forest. Ganymede/Rosalind responsible for reuniting all of the suitable lovers with one another, suggesting her persona of Ganymede is enriched by her time in the forest and acquires wisdom in matters of love, which had eluded her when she was still merely Rosalind. By the time she reveals her true identity to Orlando, she has come full circle, having experienced life as both genders and understanding love from the perspective of both the lover and the one who is loved. It was necessary for her to be apart from court and city life to acquire such wisdom and perspective, and to achieve happiness.
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