Discussion Topic

The advantages and disadvantages of court and country life in Touchstone’s and Corin’s debate in As You Like It

Summary:

Touchstone and Corin's debate in As You Like It highlights the contrast between court and country life. Touchstone argues that court life offers sophistication, comfort, and social opportunities, while disparaging the rustic simplicity of the country. Conversely, Corin values the honesty, peace, and fulfillment of country life, criticizing the court's artificiality and moral corruption. Both perspectives underscore the play's exploration of differing lifestyles.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of court and country life in Touchstone’s and Corin’s debate in As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2?

Like most literary pastoral poems, the play sets up an oppostion between the court and the countryside. There are a number of places in the play which underline this oppostion. Find them. Then tell in what way the given quotation comments on this contrast. Such a discussion would make a great paper!

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of court and country life in Touchstone’s and Corin’s debate in As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2?

In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in Act III, Scene 2, the shepherd, Corin, and Touchstone, the court clown have a very mocking and humorous debate about the life of a shepherd and about whether or not court life or country life is better.  When Corin asks Touchstone what he thinks of a shepherd’s life, Touchstone gives an answer that is absolute nonsense, but speaks of the relativity of life.  Touchstone replies of the shepherd’s life “in respect of itself, it is a good life, but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught.”  In other words, the shepherd’s life, relative to life itself is a good life, but Touchstone does not enjoy living life as a shepherd.  Touchstone’s point speaks of one of the play’s larger points that life is as you make it.  The rest of Touchstone’s answers in this speech conflict with each other too.  Touchstone appreciates that life lived in the country as a shepherd is a “solitary” life, but hates the fact that it is “a private” life—which amounts to the same thing.  He further says that he likes the fields but hates the fact that it is not in court—which is very contradictory.  Touchstone also argues that those who have never been to court, like Corin, have worse manners.  In short, the argument between Corin and Touchstone to show whether or not country life of court life is better fails to show true advantages or disadvantages of either life and simply argues that life is what you make of it.

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In Act 3, Scene 2 of As You Like It, what are the pros and cons of country and court life as per Touchstone and Corin's debate?

In As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2, Touchstone touches on some advantages to country life then turns them to disadvantages according to his taste. He describes the advantages of the pastoral rustic country life as being solitude, pleasant fields, a life without fancy foods ("spare").

He then turns these to disadvantages according to his personal taste. He says disadvantages are that the privacy, without social gatherings and multitudes of companions all around, is "vile"; the fields are "tedious" having no entertainments as those at court; the "spare" life without plentiful abundance of food goes "against" his stomach. He also says the manners of the pastoral life are wicked enough for damnation.

Corin, the old shepherd, corrects Touchstone regarding manners explaining quite convincingly that cleanliness is more important in the country pastoral life than fancy attentions. Corin says advantages of country life are that he "owes no man hate," meaning he has no enemies nor knows any villains; "he envies no man's happiness," meaning his success isn't bound up in someone else's failure; "glad of other men's good," meaning he can rejoice when others receive good things because he doesn't covet (wrongly desire) others' benefits; "content with my harm," meaning willing to take his difficulties as they come; and that he is not proud because his greatest pride is not in himself but in the happiness of his sheep.

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