Suggested Essay Topics

Act I
1. Discuss the concepts of fortune and nature as they apply to Orlando and Oliver.

2. Compare and contrast the relationship of Oliver and Orlando with that of Rosalind and Celia.

3. Explore the ways that Shakespeare uses witty wordplay based on "sport" and "wrestling" analogies to reveal his characters' views on the subject of love.

4. Compare the impressions we get of court life and country life in the first act.

Act II
1. Discuss the ways in which Shakespeare reveals that life in the Forest of Arden, while in many ways an idealized existence, also has its hardships.

2. Explore the many images of the natural world in the second act.

3. Compare and contrast the many sides of Jaques' character revealed in the scenes in which he is referred to or appears.

4. Discuss the concept of loyalty as it applies to Orlando and Adam in the second act, and the ways in which it defines their characters.

1. Compare and contrast the attitudes toward love expressed by Orlando, Touchstone, Jaques, and Silvius in the third act.

2. Compare and contrast the attitudes of Corin and Touchstone toward country life and city life in Act III, Scene 2.

3. Explore the ways that Rosalind's Ganymede disguise affects her behavior in this act.

4. Discuss the ways in which the developments in the third act foreshadow further comic complications.

Act IV
1. Examine the ways that Rosalind tests Orlando's love for her in Act IV Scene 1.

2. Explore the ways in which what we have already learned about Orlando foreshadows his courageous actions in saving his brother's life.

3. Discuss the ways that Rosalind's Ganymede disguise proves an advantage and a disadvantage in Act IV, Scenes 1 and 3.

4. Contrast the changing roles of Celia and Oliver in the fourth act with their characterizations earlier in the play.

Act V
1. Compare and contrast the realistically drawn rural characters Corin, William, and Audrey to Silvius and Phebe, who are many ways the conventional "poetic shepherds" of pastoral romance.

2. Explore the ways that Touchstone's behavior differs when he is in the company of "city" and "country" characters.

3. Discuss the role of Jaques in the play and the reasons that may underlie his decision to remain in the forest.

4. Explain the reasons why Duke Senior, after praising the pastoral life, might want to return to the court.