As You Like It Act II, Scene 1
by William Shakespeare

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Act II, Scene 1

New Characters
Duke Senior: an exiled duke, living in banishment in the Forest of Arden; Rosalind's father and Celia's uncle

Amiens: a courtier and singer who attends Duke Senior

First and Second Lords: courtiers who attend Duke Senior in exile

Scene 1 takes place in the Forest Arden. Duke Senior tells his "co-mates and brothers in exile" that he finds life in the forest "more sweet" and "free from peril" than life at "the envious court," despite the inconvenience of cold and winter winds. Amiens, one. of the Duke's courtiers, agrees, noting that the Duke has turned the misfortune of his banishment into a happy life in the forest. Duke Senior proposes that he and his courtiers embark on a deer hunt, although he regrets having to kill deer "in their own confines." The First Lord replies that Jaques, another courtier, also feels remorse at having to kill animals for food. That day, Jaques had come upon a deer wounded by a hunter. This sight had moved him to tears and philosophical reflection. He had observed cynically that Duke Senior and his courtiers were usurpers and tyrants themselves for frightening and killing the animals in the forest. Duke Senior asks to be taken to the place where Jaques has remained, "weeping and commenting" upon the fallen deer, for he enjoys encountering Jaques when he is in one of his melancholy moods.

In Scene 1, we learn that Duke Senior, although banished from his dukedom and lands, has made the most of his misfortune. Duke Senior's comments on his existence in the Forest of Arden are yet another paean to the pastoral life. Here, we see a far more relaxed atmosphere than we have seen at court. We are in the presence of a new social order. Duke Senior and his court-in-exile have cast aside what is "painted" and "envious." We are also greeted by images of bountiful nature: in the forest, Duke Senior remarks, one can find "tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,/ Sermons in stones, and good in everything." Yet life in the forest, as we learn in Duke Senior's opening speech, also has its hazards, particularly the "icy fang" of the winter wind. Duke Senior is optimistic by nature, however, and he seems undiscouraged by the hardships he and his court have endured. When he mentions that "Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,"...

(The entire section is 598 words.)