What is the contrast between Oliver and Orlando in Shakespeare's As You Like It?

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Oliver is the elder son of Sir Rowland de Boys and elder brother of Orlando. They have another brother, Jacques. Orlando is the youngest son and brother; Jacques is second born. Birth order is possibly the reason Oliver hates Orlando, for hate him he does. While Oliver sends Jacques to school to be educated as a gentleman, he ignores Orlando. Orlando, on the other hand, has borne with Oliver's neglect and done his best to make something of himself in his restricted circumstances; he has become a wrestler of great accomplishment.

Oliver has always acted in such a way as to provoke Orlando to wrath and, finally, on a day the play opens with, Orlando lets his wrath fly--this action is not without potentially disastrous consequences for Orlando.

ORLANDO: I would not take this hand
from thy throat till this other had pulled out thy
tongue for saying so: thou hast railed on thyself.
OLIVER: I will
physic your rankness, and yet give no thousand
crowns neither.

Oliver stoops to unscrupulous and criminal means to get his will accomplished. Orlando seeks to "go buy [his] fortunes" through honest means, which is why he challenges the wrestling champion Charles in the competition. Oliver wishes to win in life through hatred and cheating. Orlando wishes to win through honesty and love.

ROSALIND: But, in good sooth, are you he
that hangs the verses on the trees, wherein Rosalind
is so admired?

Oliver is the villain with qualities antithetical to Orlando’s. Orlando is the hero whom Rosalind teases into maturity and eminence. Oliver is reformed when he falls in love with Celia. Orlando is improved through his love for Rosalind who leads him in the right path.

ROSALIND: I have promised to make all this matter even.
Keep you your word, O duke, to give your daughter;
You yours, Orlando, to receive his daughter:

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What is the relationship between Oliver and Orlando in the beginning and end of Shakespeare's As You Like It?

At the beginning of the play Oliver and Orlando hate each other. Oliver has inherited their deceased father's entire estate under the law of primogeniture (first-born son inherits everything). He supports Orlando grudgingly and prevents him from educating himself as a gentleman. He even tries to have Orlando killed in a match with the professional wrestler Charles. Because of Oliver's tyranical behavior, Orlando is forced to flee to the Forest of Arden, where he meets Rosalind disguised as Ganymede. Duke Ferdinand believes that his daughter is with Rosalind and Orlando for a rather complicated reason. He had banished Rosalind, his niece, unjustly, and his own daughter Celia left with her without his knowledge or consent. He knows that Rosalind was infatuated with Orlando, and he assumes that Orlando is with Rosalind and that his daughter is with them both. So he orders Oliver to pursue them and bring back Celia. Eventually Orlando saves Oliver's life when his brother is attacked by a lion. This event makes Oliver regret his former hostility toward Orlando, and in fact he becomes a miraculously changed man. He decides to remain in the Forest of Arden, marry Celia, and give the entire estate to Orlando, who is going to marry Rosalind in a joint wedding ceremony. So the brothers begin by hating each other and end by loving each other in true brotherly fashion. The plot of As You Like It is complicated and fanciful, but being a comedy is not intended to be taken too seriously.

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What is the relationship between Oliver and Orlando in the beginning and end of Shakespeare's As You Like It?

In the beginning of the play, Orlando and Oliver's relationship can only be characterized as hostile. Orlando explains in his opening speech that when their father passed away, their father left a thousand crowns to Orlando in his will plus commanded Oliver to see to Orlando's education as a gentleman. In his opening speech, Orlando is explaining to the faithful servant Adam how distressed he is by the fact that he has not received his proper education. In contrast, Orlando states that Oliver has seen to Jaques' education, their youngest brother, but not his own. Orlando proclaims he feels he is being treated by Oliver even more poorly than the estate animals, as we see in his lines:

His horses are bred better; for, besides that they are fair with their feeding, they are taught their manage, and to that end riders dearly hired: but I, his brother, gain nothing under him but growth. (I.i.10-14)

Literary critics have speculated that Oliver feels jealous of Orlando for his "talent, generosity, and aristocratic impulses" but does not feel the same sort of jealousy towards Jaques, resulting in Oliver allowing Jaques to be educated but not Orlando (eNotes, "Oliver (Character Analysis)"). As a result of this animosity between the two brothers, the play opens up with a fight in which Oliver tries to strike Orlando, but "Orlando gets the upper hand" (52-53). As a result of the fight and his jealousy, Oliver also plans to have Orlando killed by wrestling the duke's court wrestler, Charles, but Orlando actually wins against Charles. Next, Oliver plans to burn down Orlando's lodging, but Orlando and the servant Adam escape into the Forest of Arden.

However, by the time we reach Act 4, Scene 3, the two brothers' relationship changes significantly. Oliver was sent into the Forest of Arden by Duke Frederick in pursuit of Orlando. We learn in Act 4, Scene 3 that Orlando discovers his brother Oliver asleep under a tree in the forest and about to be attacked by a lioness. Orlando almost decides to leave Oliver to his fate but then decides to fight the lioness, saving his brother's life and becoming wounded in the process. Oliver was so moved by Orlando's act of bravery and sacrifice that he becomes a changed man who now loves his brother.

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What is the relationship between Oliver and Orlando in the beginning and end of Shakespeare's As You Like It?

At the beginning of the play, Orlando discusses his unfortunate relationship with his brother Oliver with the elderly servant Adam. Then Oliver shows up and the two brothers quarrel over how Oliver has treated Orlando since their father died. Oliver even gets a little physical with Oliver:

OLIVER.
Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?
ORLANDO.
I am no villain: I am the youngest son of Sir Rowland de
Bois: he was my father; and he is thrice a villain that says such
a father begot villains. Wert thou not my brother, I would not
take this hand from thy throat till this other had pulled out
thy tongue for saying so: thou has railed on thyself"(I.i.43-48).

Throughout the course of the play, the evil Duke asks Oliver to go find Orlando for him. Oliver goes, but Orlando saves his older brother from a snakes grasp and bite, then he saves him from a lion who would have eaten him. Finally, Orlando suffers a wound from the lion and shows Oliver the way to Duke Senior where Oliver is welcomed with love. Oliver's mind is changed as he is shown mercy from one who could have let him die in the forest; their brotherly relationship is thus mended (IV.iii). Consequently, due to the fact that Orlando shows his brother mercy, Oliver changes his hatred to love and does not turn Orlando over to the Duke Frederick.

 

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