As You Like It
As You Like It is a wacky romantic comedy with its own spin on two classic storylines, the evils of city life vs. the free simplicity of country life and the "fish out of water" characters. Set in contemporary but fantastical France, the play follows the journey of Rosalind, the daughter of the deposed Duke Senior, and her attempt to find her father in the Forest of Arden. Accompanied by her loyal cousin Celia and their jester Touchstone, Rosalind finds love at first site with the equally banished Orlando and a host of wacky country folk looking for love in all the wrong places. Using a typical Shakespeare convention of female cross dressing, Rosalind dresses like a boy to better maneuver in the outside world and to get closer to Orlando. The play follows several couples, as they examine love and life in this idyllic setting.
Below, as the play first appeared in print, in the 1623 First Folio.
Written sometime from 1598-1599 and based on the story Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge, the play was first performed during the first season of the newly built Globe Theatre. The show proved so popular that Shakespeare's company registered the play with London's Stationers Company, usually a move to attempt pirate publications or to claim rights on a new work. The move seems to have worked since it was first published in the First Folio of 1623. Considered one of Shakespeare's mature comedies, As You Like It, has remained extremely popular with modern audiences and is one of the most frequently produced works.
The play has been suggested as one of the candidates for the lost Shakespeare play Loves Labour's Wonne, a known work of Shakespeare's prior to 1598 that may have been renamed. The show also contains an enigmatic reference to the murky death of Christopher Marlowe with its references to 'Dead Shepherd' and 'it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room'. Shepherd was a title usually attributed to poets and Marlowe was murdered in a small room in a tavern, Marlowe dabbled in spying and was possibly taken out by the government because he had become too much of a liability. The reference suggests that the play was written much earlier since Marlow died in 1593, however the play's style is consistent with other plays dating to the latter half of the decade and Shakespeare may have inserted the reference since the Marlowe's unfinished poem Hero and Leander had been published in 1598.
Click below or on the side links to view the Play Text either as a full page or scene by scene format; a Directory of Characters with extensive descriptions and backgrounds; a Scene by Scene Synopsis of the play; and extensive Commentary on the show.
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