Act III, Scenes 1 and 2

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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1869

Summary At the palace, Duke Frederick commands Oliver to find Orlando and bring him in, dead or alive, within a year. If Oliver fails to do so, his property and goods will be forfeited. Oliver tells Duke Frederick, "I never loved my brother in my life." "More villain thou," Duke...

(The entire section contains 1869 words.)

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At the palace, Duke Frederick commands Oliver to find Orlando and bring him in, dead or alive, within a year. If Oliver fails to do so, his property and goods will be forfeited. Oliver tells Duke Frederick, "I never loved my brother in my life." "More villain thou," Duke Frederick replies. He orders his men to forcibly remove Oliver from the palace and commands that a writ of seizure be placed on Oliver's house and lands.

In Scene 2, we return to the Forest of Arden. Orlando, obsessed by his love for Rosalind, writes poems to her and hangs them on trees. After he resolves to carve the name of his beloved on every tree in the forest, he exits.

Corin and Touchstone enter, and Corin asks Touchstone how he likes the shepherd's life. Touchstone replies with a witty series of contradictions. Although he finds some elements of country life appealing, he misses the liveliness of the court and its good manners. Corin tells him bluntly that courtly manners would be out of place in the country. The formal kissing of hands, he comments, would be inappropriate when the hands of shepherds are greasy from handling their sheep. Corin praises the virtues of his simple life as a shepherd, and Touchstone responds with a series of bawdy jests that satirize the shepherd's calling.

Their conversation is interrupted when Rosalind enters in her Ganymede disguise, reading aloud a love poem she has found on a tree: "From the east to western Ind/ No jewel is like Rosalind." Touchstone, unimpressed by the "false gallop" of the verses, promptly invents a parody of the poem. He concludes with yet another bawdy jest. Celia happens upon the scene, reading aloud another love poem about Rosalind.

Celia sends Touchstone and Corin away, and she and Rosalind discuss the poems. Rosalind is critical of their style and literary merit, and she is at a loss to identify their author. When Celia finally tells her, after teasing her for her dullness, that the author can only be Orlando, Rosalind is incredulous. She is ecstatic to learn that Orlando has arrived in the forest, but she wonders how her masculine disguise might complicate matters. 'Alas the day! " she remarks. "What shall I do with my doublet and hose?" She queries Celia for any bit of news about Orlando.

Their discussion is interrupted by the entrance of Orlando and Jaques. Rosalind and Celia stand aside and eavesdrop on their conversation. Jaques has taken a cynical view of Orlando's romantic infatuation and urges him to "mar no more trees" with his poems, telling him: "The worst fault you have is to be in love." Orlando proclaims that "'Tis a fault I will not change for your best virtue." Jaques retorts by telling Orlando, "I was looking for a fool when I found you." Orlando chides him by commenting that if it is a fool he is seeking, he can look in the brook, for there he will see his own reflection. They exchange parting shots, and Jaques exits.

Rosalind, in an aside to Celia, resolves to speak to Orlando "like a saucy lackey and under that habit play the knave with him." She steps forward and addresses the young man, who does not recognize her in her Ganymede disguise. They banter lightheartedly about time and love. Rosalind cautions Orlando that love is a disease that is best cured. She tells him that "There is a man haunts the forest that abuses our young plants with carving 'Rosalind' on their barks, hangs odes on hawthorns, and elegies on brambles... If I could meet that fancy-monger, I would give him some good counsel." Orlando confesses that "I am he that is so love-shaked" and asks for her remedy. Rosalind wittily catalogues the physical symptoms of a man in love, and she remarks that Orlando seems to have none of them. Orlando protests that he is indeed in love, but Rosalind tells him that "love is merely a madness" and proposes "curing it." She tells him she has, in the past, cured a lovelorn swain of his "mad humor" by impersonating his fickle mistress, "full of tears" one minute, "full of smiles" the next. She promises that she can heal Orlando's lovesickness as well. Orlando declares that he does not want to be cured, but Ganymede tells him a cure is possible if Orlando will call "him" Rosalind and come to "his" cottage every day to court him. Orlando, pleased by the thought of wooing even a surrogate Rosalind, agrees to the plan.

Scene 1 brings the two villains of the play together. Oliver, accustomed to issuing commands to Orlando, now must answer to a more powerful tyrant. Ironically, Duke Frederick remarks that Oliver is a villain for failing to love his brother. Frederick is guilty of this same offense. This brief scene also sets the stage for Oliver's arrival in the Forest of Arden.

In Scene 2, we see Orlando behaving just as Jaques commented the lover does in his "Seven Ages of Man" speech: "Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad/Made to his mistress's eyebrow." Here, he is the lovestruck poet of Renaissance tradition. His verses leave something to be desired, but their sentiments are evidently sincere.

Later in this scene, Corin, in his exchange with Touchstone, eloquently defends the virtues of the pastoral life: "I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness, glad of other men's good, content with my harm; and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck." Touchstone, playing the role of a dissatisfied exile, argues wittily that the court, with its good manners, is far superior to the countryside. His speech features a host of amusing contradictions, and at the same time it satirizes the pastoral ideal. But Corin, praising the reality of his rural existence rather than the ideal notions of the pastoral life expressed by Duke Senior and others, rebuts him on nearly all of the points he makes. Here, we are greeted once more by the theme of city life versus country life. Note that Corin, unlike Silvius, is not an idealized shepherd, but rather a more realistically drawn figure who is concerned primarily with the practical details of his trade.

Touchstone's parody of Orlando's poem is apt, for the poem Rosalind has read has a syrupy, sentimental quality and a number of awkward rhymes. Touchstone's bawdy jest at the end of his parody echoes his bawdy comments to Corin in their earlier exchange. His references to sexuality and lust, here and elsewhere, satirize the idealized notions of love expressed by many of the other characters.

The Orlando-Jaques dialogue parallels in its contrasts the Corin-Touchstone exchange in this scene. Earlier we had seen a pairing of opposites in the sophisticated wit and the simple shepherd. Here we see the worldly cynic and the romantic innocent engage in a duel of words. Jaques would like nothing better than to sit down with Orlando and "rail against our mistress the world, and all our misery" Yet Orlando, true to his nature, will have none of it. The attitudes toward romance expressed by Orlando and Jaques reflect the timeless conflicts of youth and age. Orlando's refutation of Jaques' skepticism serves as a prologue to the love scene that follows. Later, Rosalind's encounter with Jaques will serve much the same purpose.

When Rosalind and Orlando banter about time, it recalls Jaques' mention of Touchstone's sundial in an earlier scene. Again, reference to time seems ironic, for while court life (which Touchstone can never escape entirely) is strictly regimented, the Forest of Arden is in many ways a timeless place. As Orlando remarks, "there's no clock in the forest." This comment foreshadows his behavior in later scenes. Rosalind, on the other hand, is far more conscious of time's passing, a disparity that will lead to complications in her relationship with the man she loves. She tells Orlando bluntly that if there is no clock in the forest, "Then, there is no true lover in the forest; else sighing every minute, and groaning every hour, would detect the lazy foot of Time as well as a clock." In sum, if Orlando were a true lover, he would be prompt.

This scene features a number of incongruities. It seems unlikely, for example, that Rosalind, intelligent and quick-witted, would not know immediately that the author of the mysterious love poems is Orlando. We are also asked to accept the fact that Orlando does not recognize the woman he claims to love in her Ganymede disguise. Much of the humor here arises from confusion--the inability of a character to perceive what other characters already know. The audience (or the reader) is also in on the "secret." This type of confusion occurs frequently in Shakespeare's comedies.

Indeed, the entire Forest of Arden is filled with incongruities. The play is set in the Ardennes region of France (note the French names of many of the characters), but the forest is home to a palm tree and olive trees; later, we will hear that a lioness roams there as well. Moreover, the countryside is peopled by typically English shepherds, and there is a reference to the English folk hero, Robin Hood. In fact, there is a real-life Forest of Arden in Warwickshire, not far from Stratford-upon-Avon where Shakespeare was born and raised. No attempt is made, however, to depict this location realistically. Arden is a place that is both real and enchanted.

Initially, Rosalind is panic-stricken upon learning that Orlando had arrived in the forest; she wonders what to do with her doublet and hose. For the moment, she feels trapped in the role she has assumed. Earlier, she had asked Celia, "dost thou think, though I am caparison'd like a man, I have a doublet and hose in my disposition?" However, when Orlando appears, she quickly recovers her wits and realizes that her disguise may, in fact, prove an advantage. Later, when Orlando becomes suspicious of her refined accent, she invents a "history" for her character, telling Orlando she was raised by "an old religious uncle" who taught her to speak and warned her about the folly of love. She asks Orlando bluntly, "But are you so much in love as your rhymes speak?" Although he has written poetry, she remarks, Orlando seems to have none of the traditional signs of a man in love: a lean cheek, disarray in his dress, and so on. She then sets in motion a plan to put Orlando's love to the test by attempting to "cure" him of his "malady." She refers to Orlando's declarations of love as a "sickness," and she disparages the ways of women. When she impersonated a woman in the past to cure another lovelorn swain, she remarks, her methods were so effective that her "suitor" withdrew to a monastery.

Orlando is initially reluctant to be cured, yet ultimately he agrees to the plan. By the end of this scene, Rosalind is clearly in control and relishes her situation. Her playful yet serious investigation of Orlando's true feelings for her will continue in scenes to come.

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