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As You Like It Summary | William Shakespeare

As You Like It Summary | William Shakespeare

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“As You Like It” is a romantic comedy (1599) by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), one of the greatest dramatists in the history of English Literature. The theme is love as life’s greatest joy. Romantic, brotherly, and humanitarian love all bring great joy to the major characters in the play after they overcome the obstacles that separate them from others. The action takes place in a palace in northern Europe and in the Arden Forest. An Arden Forest in Warwickshire, England can be found. We have written the summary of As You Like it by William Shakespeare.

 

Characters:

Rosalind – is the daughter of Duke Senior, banished by her cruel uncle and later married to Orlando.

Orlando – He is the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois. He is neglected by his brother Oliver. Later, they get united.

Duke Senior – is the father of Rosalind and the rightful ruler but banished by his cruel brother duke Frederick.

 

Jacques– In the Forest of Arden, Duke Senior is joined by Jacques, a loyal lord.

Celia – Rosalind’s best friend, Celia, is the daughter of Duke Frederick. Oliver is her husband.

Duke Frederick– Duke Frederick is Duke Senior’s brother and an illegitimate pretender to the ducal throne.

Touchstone -A jester from Duke Frederick’s court, Touchstone travels to Arden with Rosalind and Celia. Audrey is his wife.

Oliver- Oliver is Sir Rowland de Bois’s eldest son and the rightful heir to the de Bois fortune.

Silvius– Young, troubled Silvius is madly in love with the condescending Phoebe.

Phoebe– Young shepherdess Phoebe, who has little use for Silvius’s attentions. She has a tragic love affair with Ganymede – Ganymede, who ends up being Silvius’s wife.

Charles – is a trained wrestler who performs in the duke’s palace.

Adam – was once Sir Rowland de Bois’s elderly servant.

Sir Rowland de Bois – is the father of Oliver and Orlando, friend of Duke Senior, and enemy of Duke Frederick. Upon Sir Rowland’s death, the vast majority of his estate was handed over to Oliver according to the custom of primogeniture (the system in which the oldest son in a family receives all the property when his father is deceased.)

Audrey – A unsophisticated goat herder who agrees to marry Touchstone.

Hesperia: Celia’s gentlewoman.

 

As You Like It Summary by William Shakespeare

 

Act I of As You Like it summary

The first act of the novel opens in an orchard. Here Orlando and his servant Adam are talking. Orlando accuses Oliver, his brother, of depriving him of his father’s property. Oliver was supposed to educate Orlando but he did nothing according to his father although his actions show he is one of nature’s gentlemen. 

 

To show Oliver’s unkindness to Adam, Orlando tells Adam to listen to his conversation with Oliver when Oliver is approaching Orlando. Orlando starts to accuse his brother of his deprivation. Hearing that, his brother slaps him and this enrages Orlando. Orlando is about to beat his brother. But he doesn’t do this. Despite beating Orlando, Oliver feels terribly insulted as Orlando is about to beat him. Then he leaves the stage.

 

Now Oliver with the help of a servant calls Charles who is the wrestler in the service of Frederick. He asks Charles about the new news of the palace of Frederick. Charles states that the honest and innocent elder brother Duke Senior has been banished by Frederick for his jealousy. Now the senior is living in the Forest of Arden with his companions. Besides, Charles also tells him that tomorrow he will fight against Orlando in the palace of Frederick. Hearing this, Oliver tells Charles that he has no sympathy for Orlando if Charles kills him.

Act I Next part

The next scene is seen on the lawn before the duke’s palace. Rosalind becomes sad as her father has been banished from the court. Celia, the cousin of her and the daughter of Frederick, sympathizes with her. She assures Rosalind that she will restore Rosalind’s property after Frederick’s death. A messenger comes to them and tells them that they are going to miss wrestling. They make no delay.  Going there, they learn that a match between Orlando and Charles is going to be held. Rosalind falls in love seeing Orlando at the first sight of him. Now she worries that he may get a severe injury. She forbids him to fight but Orlando needs to fight anyway.

 

The fight starts and Orlando defeats Charles by a sudden clever turn. Everyone is happy except Frederick when he learns that Orlando is his niece, he leaves the place without praising the champion. The ladies are still waiting in the place. Rosalind praises Orlando’s heroic deed by giving him the little golden chain she wears around her neck, although she knows it is but a trifling gift. Both of the ladies leave the place after congratulating him. Orlando then leaves too.

Act I Last part

We next behold a room in the palace, where the girls are discussing the wrestling match. Suddenly Duke Frederick appears with his angry mood. He banishes her, despite Celia’s urge to show sympathy for her. But this doesn’t cool down the anger of the duke. Now Celia, being a close friend, cannot but decides to accompany her. When Rosalind sadly inquires whether they shall wander, Celia suggests they join the banished duke in the Forest of Arden, Next the girls select romantic names, and sally forth to take their necessary things, their traveling costumes. Besides, they take Jester, on whose support they can rely.

 

Act II of As You Like it summary

The second act opens in the Forest of Arden, where the banished duke is sitting beneath the trees with his accompanies. He is philosophizing to them. Suddenly, Jacques comes to them crying and says that a stag is injured. The banished duke also goes to the wounded stag. Here, Jacques moralizes that the injured are always deserted by their fellow creatures like the stag.

The scene now changes to a room in the palace of the cruel duke, where he is cross-questioning those around him, in hopes of finding some trace of his missing daughter and niece. He learns from Hesperia that they must be with Touchstone but no clue is found about their whereabouts. News comes that they met Orlando after the wrestling match. He becomes angrier than before. He summons Oliver and accuses him of his brother. After the wrestling match, Orlando comes to Adam. Instead of making merry, Adam warns him to leave the palace because Oliver may burn him down. Orlando understands that the place is not safe for both of them. They are preparing to leave.

 

The next scene is played in the Forest of Arden, where Rosalind, in boy’s attire named Ganymede, Celia, dressed like a peasant girl, and the Touchstone sink down tired by the edge. When they are wandering, a couple of shepherds stroll toward them. They also notice that Silvius is trying to show his passion for the shepherdess Phebe, describing his feelings so graphically that Rosalind realizes for the first time her heart is undergoing similar pangs for Orlando. Later they learn that the old man is going to sell his house in the forest. Rosalind and Celia, full with funds, suddenly plan to purchase it. However, they keep the old man as their servant at higher wages. 

Act II part II

The next scene is about the banquet by the banished duke with his accompanies. They are preparing to have it. On the other hand, both Orlando and Adams are so faint from hunger that poor old Adam sinks down by the wayside. He cannot move an inch. Seeing that, Orlando lays him under a tree and promises that he will come back with food for him.

In the meantime, the duke and his companions have gathered around the venison they have slain. Suddenly, Orlando rushes upon them with a drawn sword, bidding them refrain from touching the food before them, under penalty of death. The duke then learns Orlando’s condition. He promises that not a single man will touch the food until he fetches Adams. He brings him to the place. Seeing the weak and vulnerable condition of Adams, the duke offers them the food. When they finish the food, his men entertain them with a song. This over, the duke, who has been studying Orlando’s expression, recognizes his strong resemblance to an old friend on learning his name, and therefore bids him welcome to Arden. Old Adam, strengthened by food, finally manages to stand, and hobble off in company of the rest. 

 

Act III of As You Like it summary

The third act opens in the palace, where the wicked duke is interviewing Oliver, who swears his brother is not found after the wrestling match, although he has eagerly sought him. Not believing this statement, the duke angrily orders him to produce his brother alive or dead, within the next twelve months, or give up his property. When Oliver protests it saying that he never loved his brother, the duke accuses him. Finally, he turns him out. 

 

In the Forest of Arden, Orlando is hanging verses on a tree. It is because he has been deeply in love with Rosalind even in her disguise as a boy. Besides, he has written many poems in her honour, and has carved her name on every trunk. Rosalind, still disguised as a youth, enters, reading aloud one of the many poems she has discovered in the forest, all of which, to her intense amazement, contain her name. Touchstone and Celia have fun at Rosalind. Each of them gets entangled in a funny conversation. Rosalind now wants to meet Orlando. Her desire is told to her cousin. 

 

Suddenly, they notice that Jaques and Orlando are coming into the forest. They hide themselves behind the trees to overhear the men. Orlando is also talking about Rosalind. Jaques asks him about her stature. Orlando pronounces Rosalind ‘just as high as my heart. He also expresses his deep love for Rosalind. After a little more conversation, Jaques leaves Orlando beneath a tree. On the other Rosalind plans to appear before him. She comes out from the hiding place with Celia. She asks him about the time. He replies that no clock will be found in the forest. She also cuts jokes with the papers on which he writes verses for her.

Act III part II

As he does not recognize Rosalind, he confesses that he loves her very much. His heart craves for her. He tells her that he is suffering from lovesickness. She now offers him that his sickness will be cured if he takes her as his lover even in her disguise as a boy. She also tells him to call her Rosalind. He agrees with the proposal. Both of them leave that place. After their leave, Touchstone strolls on the scene with a shepherdess Audrey, whom he is helping to gather her goats. Actually, he is offering his lover to her. 

 

The next scene is played in the forest between Rosalind and Celia who are talking about Orlando. He promises to Rosalind that he will come every morning to meet and woo her. As he makes delay, Rosalind tells another story to Celia that she met her father the Duke Senior but he could not recognize her because of his disguise. Then she again returns to the theme of Orlando.  

 

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of the old shepherd. He reports that Silvius is trying to make love with his shepherdess. Both the ladies go there and hide themselves from them to overhear them. They notice that Silvius is eagerly offering his love to Phebe but she is paying no heed to him. Then, Rosalind goes to them and rebukes Phebe not to accept the love of the man. She also rebukes the man because he is insulting himself trying to offer a lady who is not accepting his love. Both Rosalind and Celia leave the place.  Now Phebe falls in love with Rosalind as she takes her as a man. She also learns that the farm was bought by the man. This is why she refuses Silvius.

 

Act IV of As You Like it summary

Rosalind finds Orlando in the promised place. Both of them have a fun marriage arranged by Rosalind. Here, she makes some witty expressions about man’s nature. Before marriage, a man loves his lover in many ways but things get changed after marriage. Orlando bids her adieu for 2 hours as he has to join a feast with the duke.  

At the end of two hours, Rosalind and Celia revisit the spot in the forest, where, instead of Orlando, they are met by the youthful shepherd, delivering Phebe’s letter. It contains pure irony and passion for Rosalind. Rosalind replies” ‘If she loves me, I charge her to love thee.

 

He has hardly gone. In the meantime, Oliver is present on the stage. He informs Rosalind about a piece of news from Orlando. He states that a man was lying beneath the tree. A deadly serpent coiled around his neck and a lioness was waiting to devour him. Orlando, going close to him, recognized that the man was his brother Oliver. Forgetting the past revolt, he drove the snake away and fought with the lioness. Getting a bit injured, he saved his brother. After confessing the truth that he is Oliver, he delivered the bloody handkerchief as a voucher of the truth of his tale. Rosalind, who has listened with keenest interest to this story, soon faints away. But her unconsciousness is very brief, and soon she recovers.

 

Act V of As You Like it summary

In the last act, the two brothers reunite. Oliver falls in love with Celia. Now he cannot think without her. He is ready to marry her tomorrow. On the other hand, Rosalind is still in disguise and meets Orlando. She sees that Orlando is lamenting for Rosalind. He says that he will not be able to marry like her brother. But Rosalind proposes to use magic arts to bring the real Rosalind to the forest on the morrow, ready to marry him. This promise seems to be meaningless to Orlando, who is not sure of it. Rosalind meets Phebe and Silvius. Silvius is upset because Phebe does not care for him ; rather, she loves Ganymede, which is exactly Rosalind. Soon he is assured by Rosalind that if he has to marry a lady, it will be Phebe. 

 

The next day, all the dukes and the people are present before the fourfold marriage. Rosalind and Celia come out with their normal attire and look. Everyone recognizes them. The dukes get happy to see their daughters back. The person who gets very shocked is Phebe because she loved Rosalind when she was in disguise as a lad. Now she bids farewell to her illusions and prepares to marry the shepherd. The fourfold marriage ceremony of Rosalind and Orlando, Oliver and Celia, Silvius and Phebe and touchstone and Audrey under Hymen’s ministrations, take place with great joy. Thus, the Forest of Arden reunites all the characters. 

This the end of our content As you like it summary. We hope you have enjoyed it. Anyway, if you want to read more content from Introduction to Drama, you can read the following articles:

Oedipus Rex:
Summary of the Arms and the Man:

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