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AS YOU LIKE IT
EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDY BY
SAMUEL M. NORTH
HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH, BALTIMORB
NEW YORK .:: CINCINNATI ::: CHICAGO
“As You Like It" was on the stage as early as the year 1600, but was not in print till it appeared in the first collection of Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623 and known as the “First Folio."
The comedy is founded on a novel by Thomas Lodge, printed in 1590 under the title of “Rosalynde, Euphues' Golden Legacie."
Shakespeare borrows names and incidents from this story, but the characterization is his own; and his creative genius has surrounded "a rather heavy and commonplace tale with an atmosphere of graceful romance, resulting in a play the charming animation and grace of which have made it the delight of all readers, young and old."
The action of “As You Like It” is wholly in the open air, and the drama is redolent of woods and green fields and all the charms of a pastoral and rustic life. After the first act its incidents are for the most part in the Forest of Arden, where a Duke, dispossessed of his title and dukedom by Frederick, a usurping younger brother, is living in banishment in the company of many friends and adherents. Here, in genial comradeship, enlivened
songs of the tuneful Amiens, and entertained with the sententious philosophizing of "the melancholy Jaques," — a traveled courtier, highly appreciated by the Duke, — they "fleet the time carelessly" as in the golden age, and, “exempt from public haunt,” find
"Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
The play opens, however, in a garden near the house of Oliver, the eldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois, where we learn from a conversation between Orlando and Adam- an old servant of the family—that Sir Rowland, at his death, bequeathed his possessions to his three sons, of whom Orlando is the youngest, leaving the management and distribution
ibution of the estate to Oliver. The latter is also charged with the training of Orlando, but entertains a groundless and unnatural hatred for him, treating him with the utmost indignity, withholding his inheritance, and denying him the education fitting his birth.
While Orlando and Adam are talking, Oliver enters, and a violent quarrel ensues between the brothers. Exasperated by the contemptuous taunts of Oliver, Orlando seizes him by the throat, and they are only separated through the intervention of Adam. When he and Orlando go out, Charles, a noted wrestler, one of Duke Frederick's retainers, comes in to advise Oliver to prevent Orlando's intention to enter the lists in a contest arranged for the following day, as it would go hard with the young man should he do so, since he (Charles) contends for his reputation at this meeting. But Oliver discloses to Charles the feeling he has towards his brother, gives him a bad character, and says he would as soon see Orlando's neck broken as his finger,
The next scene is a lawn before Duke Frederick's palace, where Celia, his daughter, and Rosalind, daughter of his exiled brother, are seated. Le Beau, a courtier, appears, and tells them they will see some rare sport if they remain, as it is on this lawn that the wrestlers are to meet for the final struggle of the tournament. They decide to stay. Charles and Orlando approach. The ladies, admiring the youth and comeliness of Orlando, endeavor to dissuade him from an undertaking in which his youth and inexperience would be no match for the strength and skill of his opponent. But Orlando, though flattered by the interest they show for him, will not withdraw his challenge, and to the surprise of all overthrows the champion, who is borne senseless from the scene. Frederick, being informed that Orlando is a son of Sir Rowland de Bois, whom he declares to have ever been his enemy, turns coldly from the victor, offering neither praise nor reward. Not so Rosalind, who, already favorably impressed with the handsome and courageous youth, quite loses her heart to the modest athlete when she learns that he is the son of a steadfast friend of her father. As for Orlando, he had fallen desperately in love with Rosalind at first sight.
Now Duke Frederick, who, out of regard for the sisterly affection and lifelong intimacy existing between Celia and her cousin, had retained Rosalind at his court when he expelled her father, suddenly warns her, on the pretense of her being a traitor, to leave his palace and dominions within ten days, or forfeit her life. Celia, hearing this, assures her cousin that in banishing her the Duke has banished his daughter as well, as she will share Rosalind's exile and follow her fortunes.
And the two-Rosalind masquerading as a young forester, and Celia in the costume of a shepherdess-accompanied by