Act 2 Summary

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Last Updated February 7, 2023.

Scene 1

In the Forest of Arden, Duke Senior speaks to the lords who make up his court in exile. He compares the freedom and simplicity of their life in the forest favorably with the hypocrisy and pomposity of the ducal court they have left. He says that they will go hunting for deer, though one of the lords, Jaques (a different character from Jaques de Boys), thinks that hunting is cruel and cries when animals are killed.

Scene 2

Back at the ducal court, Duke Frederick asks after Celia and Rosalind and finds that they are missing, along with Touchstone. One of the servants thinks that they may be with Orlando, since she overheard their conversation about him. The Duke sends for Oliver, hoping that he will know where Orlando is.

Scene 3

Orlando’s servant, Adam, greets him at the threshold of his house and warns him that Oliver is inside, and intends to burn the house down. He begs Orlando to leave immediately, but Orlando has no idea where to go. Adam says that Orlando is welcome to his life savings, and he will remain Orlando’s servant wherever he goes. Orlando praises Adam’s loyalty, a quality which he says is rare in modern times and reluctantly agrees to go into exile with him. 

Scene 4

Meanwhile, Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone are making their way into the Forest of Arden. They meet two shepherds, Silvius and Corin, who are arguing about love, since Silvius is besotted with a shepherdess called Phebe, while Corin thinks his extravagant devotion is absurd. Celia is fainting with hunger, and Rosalind asks Corin for some food. He has none to give them, but mentions that the flock of sheep he tends is for sale, along with a cottage and pasture. Rosalind and Celia decide to buy all three.

Scene 5

In the forest, Jaques and Amiens, two of Duke Senior’s lords, are talking and singing. Jaques shows Amiens a poem he has written, and Amiens sings it. Amiens then leaves to search for Duke Senior. 

Scene 6

Orlando and Adam are entering the forest at the same time, and Adam complains that he is dying of hunger. Orlando says that he will go and find something to eat.

Scene 7

Duke Senior summons Jaques, and the two converse. Jaques says that he would like to be the Duke’s Fool, since this would allow him the freedom to criticize the other lords and speak the truth. Orlando enters suddenly with his sword drawn and demands food, whereupon Duke Senior asks if he is desperate or ill-mannered and invites him to eat with them. 

Orlando is ashamed of his rudeness, and explains that he thought one had to act savagely in the wild environment of the forest, which is new to him. Orlando leaves briefly to find Adam and, when he returns, Duke Senior recognizes him as the son of his old friend, Sir Rowland de Boys.

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Act 1 Summary

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Act 3 Summary