Student Question

Why does Orlando urge Adam not to die in "As You Like It"?

Expert Answers

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We're in act 2, scene 6 in As You Like It, and Orlando and his servant Adam have just fled Oliver's house into the Forest of Arden. Tired, weary, and practically fainting from hunger, Adam tells his master that he cannot go on. At this moment in time, he wants nothing more than to lie down and die:

Dear master, I can go no further. Oh, I die for food. Here lie
I down and measure out my grave. Farewell, kind master.
But Orlando urges Adam to take heart. He tells him to "live a little, comfort a little, cheer thyself a little." Orlando takes on the role of protector, assuring Adam that if he can find any animal in the forest he will kill it and bring it back for his servant to eat. Either that, or the animal will eat him—Orlando—instead.

Orlando's trying to cheer Adam up, to get him to wait until he returns from his hunting expedition before entertaining thoughts of dying. Otherwise, he'll have made a mockery of Orlando's labors. Orlando's efforts to cheer Adam up seem to have worked, as Orlando remarks that Adam looks happier already.

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