At a Glance
Rosalind: the daughter of the duke; she demonstrates gaiety and good sense in her attitudes toward the other characters.
Orlando: the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, and his noble birth is evident in spite of his maltreatment at the hands of his older brother and his lack of formal education. Orlando falls in love with Rosalind and shows loyalty to his servant Adam.
Celia: Rosalind’s cousin who teases Rosalind about her love for Orlando but eventually falls in love herself with Oliver.
Touchstone: a clever fool who accompanies Rosalind and Celia into the Forest of Arden.
Jaques: a misanthrope whose pessimism counters the optimism of Duke Senior and his followers.
Oliver: Orlando’s brother; he undergoes a transformation in the play when his initial greed and hatred toward his brother turn into kindness after Orlando saves him from a lioness.
Duke Frederick: Celia’s self-centered father who sends Rosalind away and banishes Orlando.
Duke Senior: Rosalind’s father; he is banished to the Forest of Arden by his brother Duke Frederick.
List of Characters
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...
(The entire section is 800 words.)