As You Like It Characters
The main characters in As You Like It are Rosalind, Orlando, Celia, Oliver, and Jaques.
- Rosalind is the quick-witted heroine of the play. She consistently attracts and confounds other characters.
- Orlando is the brave young nobleman whom Rosalind falls for.
- Celia is Rosalind’s cousin who teases Rosalind about her love for Orlando but eventually falls in love herself with Oliver.
Oliver is Orlando’s brother, whose initial hatred toward his brother turns into kindness after Orlando saves him from a lioness.
Jaques is a melancholic nobleman whose pessimism counters the optimism of Duke Senior.
List of Characters
Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 800
Rosalind is the heroine of As You Like It. Her father, Duke Senior, has been exiled to the countryside, and her position in her uncle’s court is uncertain.
When she is exiled to the forest, she disguises herself as a man named Ganymede to protect herself and her cousin, Celia. Rosalind is a canny, strong woman. She falls in love with Orlando when she sees him win an impossible wrestling match. But rather than accept her dim-witted yet sweet lover as he is, she teaches him how to woo her properly. She corrects his bad love poetry and his sappy romantic tendencies.
Rosalind also brings about the play’s happy ending. She tricks Phoebe into accepting Sivius’s hand while securing Orlando’s hand for herself. Shakespeare gives Rosalind the epilogue at the end of the play to solidify her position as a female character who plays with boundaries. She defies the audience’s expectations of what a woman can and should do. In cross-dressing and playing a man, Rosalind assumes the power that men had in Shakespeare’s time.
Celia is the daughter of Duke Frederick and the cousin of Rosalind. She disguises herself as a shepherd girl named Aliena to protect herself when they travel into the Forest of Arden.
Orlando is Rosalind’s good natured and kind-hearted love. He is also the brother of Oliver. He bravely escapes the kingdom with his servant, Adam, when he learns that his life is under threat. He also goes to find food for Adam when he is close to death from starvation. Given his integrity, he is a worthy fit for Rosalind, but his love poetry shows him to be a fool. He uses cliches and banal claims to express his love for her. His willingness to learn from Ganymede how to woo Rosalind makes him endearing and comedic to the audience.
Oliver is the older brother of Orlando. He denies Orlando his inheritance and later plots to kill him. Oliver is one of the reasons Orlando must escape into the woods. Oliver later reconciles with his brother and promises to make Orlando his heir after Orlando saves him from being eaten by a lion.
Duke Frederick is Duke Senior’s younger brother. He is cruel and vicious. He steals his older brother’s throne and exiles him to the Forest of Arden.
Duke Senior is the rightful ruler of the French court. He lives in exile in the Forest of Arden after his younger brother, Duke Frederick, takes his throne. Duke Senior is a kind, accepting man. He welcomes everyone into his court and graciously cares for them.
Jaques is a nobleman in Duke Senior’s court. His melancholic view of the world balances the idyllic, pastoral perspective of the others in the Forest of Arden. He observes the other characters experiencing love, displacement, and confusion, and he provides cynical commentary on the actions of the main characters. While he points out universal truths and plays with boundaries like a typical Shakespearean fool, he does nothing more to involve himself in the plot. He contemplates, he does not act. Jaques’s famous adage that “All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players,” (act II, sceneVII) serves as a counterpoint to the comedy of the rest of the play. It suggests that while human tragedies, joys, and conflicts occur, time marches on endlessly, driving human dramas off the stage and replacing them in a ceaseless cycle.
Touchstone is Duke Frederick’s court jester, who accompanies Celia and Rosalind into the Forest of Arden to protect them. Touchstone plays the part of the witty, comedic clown, making references and delivering commentary to prove his intelligence.
Silvius is a shepherd who is in love with Phoebe.
Phoebe is a country woman who is the object of Silvius’s affections. She disdains Silvius and falls in love with Ganymede, who she does not realize is Rosalind in disguise. Phoebe eventually marries Silvius when she realizes that Ganymede is a woman.
Sir Oliver Martext
Sir Oliver Martext is a parish priest who is perceived as a bumbling fool. Touchstone contracts Martext to marry him to Audrey, the goat-keeper. Touchstone continues to mock Martext throughout the ceremony.
Sir Rowland de Boys
Sir Rowland is the father of Oliver and Orlando. His death causes Oliver and Orlando to fight over his inheritance: Oliver, as the eldest son of Sir Rowland, does not want to give Orlando any inheritance or make him the heir.
The lords attending Duke Senior are Jaques, Amiens, the First Lord, and the Second Lord.
Hymen is the God of Marriage who attends the wedding ceremony at the end of the play.