Scene by Scene Synopsis
Scene: Oliver's house; Duke Frederick's court; and the Forest of Arden.
Act I, Scene 1: Orlando reports that his older brother Oliver has ignored their late father's will, withholding Orlando's inheritance, denying him an education, and treating him like a peasant. Oliver appears and harasses Orlando, finally striking him, at which Orland seizes his brother and refuses to release him until he vows to reform. Oliver promises and is released, an Orlando leaves. Oliver plots to get rid of Orlando, an the royal wrestler Charles appears with news fro the court: Duke Frederick has usurped his position from Duke Senior, his older brother, and now Duke Senior lives in exile in the Forest of Arden, although his daughter Rosalind, remains at court. Charles goes on to say that he worries about injuring Orland in the wrestling competition soon to be held at court. Oliver asserts that Orlando, being proud an evil, intends to kill Charles if he can and suggests that Charles should do the same to him.
Act I, Scene 2: Duke Frederick's daughter, Celia, attempts to cheer her cousin, Rosalind, who is depressed over her father's banishment, by promising her own friendship and loyalty. Touchstone, the court jester, arrives and jokes on knightly honor. A foppish courtier, Le Beau, appears and reports that the wrestler Charles has brutally killed several opponents. He says that the matches are to be resumed on the site where they are speaking. The Duke's court arrives, accompanying by Charles and Orlando. Rosalind and Celia, taken by Orlando's youth and beauty, attempt to dissuade him from wrestling, but he insists on challenging Charles. They wrestle, and Orlando wins. When Orlando identifies himself, the Duke refuses to give him the promised prize because Orlando's father had opposed his usurpation. The Duke and his followers leave, but Celia and Rosalind remain and congratulate Orlando. Rosalind is clearly lovestruck, giving Orlando her necklace and attempting to converse further, but the tongue-tied Orlando cannot respond, as he laments once they are gone. Le Beau returns to warn Orlando that the temperamental Duke intends evil towards him. Orlando asks him about Rosalind's identity before fleeing.
Act I, Scene 3: Rosalind tells Celia of her lover for Orlando. The Duke announces that Rosalind is banished because her father was his enemy. Celia volunteers to share her cousin's exile, and they decide to join Rosalind's father in the Forest of Arden. Rosalind will disguise herself as a young man, take the name Ganymede, and pose as Celia's brother; they will ask Touchstone to join them.
Act II, Scene 1: Duke Senior and his noblemen discuss the pleasures of their life in the forest. One Lord describes the amusing sight of the melancholy Jaques lamenting the death of a shot dear.
Act II, Scene 2: Duke Frederick discovers Celia's absence and mistakenly that she and Rosalind are with Orlando. He sends men to arrest Orlando, or if he has fled, Oliver.
Act II, Scene 3: An old family servant, Adam, meets Orland to warn him that Oliver intends to kill him. Adam volunteers to flee with Orlando, offering his savings as a means of support.
Act II, Scene 4: Weary with travel, the disguised Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone arrive in Arden, where they overhear Corin, an old shepherd, in conversation with Silvius, a young man who bewails his unrequited loved for a girl named Phebe. Talking with Corin, they learn that they can buy a house, land, and Coin's sheep, hiring him to tend them
Act II, Scene 5: Amiens sings a song of the Spartan virtues of woodland life. Jaques parodies it, mocking the affectation of courtiers who take up rural life.
Act II, Scene 6: Orlando and Adam arrive in Arden, and Adam, exhausted, collapses. Orlando promises to find him something to eat.
Act II, Scene 7: Duke Senior and his men are eating dinner as Jaques reports his encounter in the forest with a fool, whose comical dissertation on Time has inspired him. He wishes to be a fool himself, licensed to satirize without fear of punishment. Orlando appears, demanding food at swordpoint. The Duke offers him a place at the table, and Orlando apologizes for his thievish conduct, explaining his desperation. He goes to fetch Adam. Jaques moralizes on the stages of human life. Orlando returns with Adam, and the dinner is resumed. Amiens sings of the evils of man and the jolly woodland life, and the Duke welcomes Orlando to his court in exile.
Act III, Scene 1: Duke Frederick, disbelieves Oliver's protestations that he does not know where Orlando is, dispossesses Oliver of his estate, and threatens him with death or banishment if he does not find Orlando within a year.
Act III, Scene 2: Orlando hangs a lover poem to Rosalind on a tree an wanders off, intending to decorate the forest with declarations. Touchstone baits Corin on his lack of sophistication, but the old Shepherd is confident of the virtues of his simple life. Rosalind appears in her disguise as Ganymede, reading a poem she has found that celebrates herself. Touchstone parodies it. Celia arrives with another poem to Rosalind and informs her that she has seen Orlando sleeping nearby. Orlando and Jaques appear, and Rosalind, as Ganymede, approaches Orlando and interrogates him about his love. She proposes to cure of his lovesickness by posing as Rosalind and spurring his courtship, he agrees to call on Ganymede each day and pretend to woo him as if he were Rosalind.
Act III, Scene 3: Jaques observes Touchstone wooing Audrey, a goat-shepherd' the fool's comical remarks satirize love, women and marriage. Nevertheless, he and Audrey have decided to marry, and Sir Oliver Martext, a country parson, arrives to conduct the ceremony. Jaques objects to the irregularity of the rite and escorts the couple away.
Act III, Scene 4: Rosalind is distressed that Orlando is late for his date with Ganymede, and Celia accuses all men of being dishonest breakers of appointments. Corin arrives and offers to show them the courtship of Silvius and Phebe.
Act III, Scene 5: Rosalind, Celia, an Corin overhear Phebe rejecting Silvius. Rosalind steps forward and castigates the thankless young woman for rejecting a good lover, being ugly and unlikely to find better. Phebe instantly falls in love with Ganymede. Left alone with Silvius, she is kinder to him, understanding and pitying his passion, an she agrees to permit him to share her company if he will carry her letters to her new beloved.
Act IV, Scene 1: Rosalind berates Jaques for his melancholy and dismisses him. Orlando appears, addressing Ganymede as Rosalind, in accordance with their agreement. She asks Celia to perform a mock marriage ceremony between them, after which Orlando announce that he must meet the Duke but will return at two o'clock. Rosalind confides to Celia that her passion for Orlando grows more intense.
Act IV, Scene 2: Jaques and some of Senior's lords sing a hunting song.
Act IV, Scene 3: Orlando is late again, to Rosalind's dismay. Silvius arrives with a letter from Phebe to Ganymede, which Rosalind mocks. She sends Silvius back to Phebe with the message that Ganymede rejects her. Oliver appears, seeking Ganymede and his sister. He carries a bloody bandage. He explains that Orlando, walking through the forest, had seen a sleeping man being stalked by a lion. He had recognized the man as his evil elder brother and had contemplated letting the lion hill him. Instead, however, he had mercy, drove the lion away, and was wounded in the process. Oliver confesses that he is the brother, though he has reformed his evil ways, an he goes on to tell that Orlando, recovering from his wound, has aked him to bear a message to Ganymede offering the bloody cloth as excuse for his lateness. He offers the bandage to Rosalind, and she faints. Reviving, she insists that her faint was counterfeit and that Oliver must tell Orlando so.
Act V, Scene 1: Touchstone and Audrey encounter William, who is also a suitor of Audrey; Touchstone poses as a sophisticate and threateningly drives William away.
Act V, Scene 2: Orlando and Oliver, now reconciled, discuss Oliver's lover for Celia, whih she has returned; the two are to be married the next day. Oliver asserts that he will surrender all of their father's estate to Orlando and remain with Celia, who he believes to be a shepherdess. He leaves as Rosalind arrives, still disguised as Ganymede. Orland declares that his lovesickness for the absent Rosalind is such that he can no longer accept the masquerade of Ganymede as his lover. Ganymede then declares that he knows magic and can summon Rosalind, he promises that Orlando can marry at Oliver an Celia's wedding the next day. Silvius and Phebe arrive , and Ganymede will not marry any woman, she must accept Silvius. She agrees.
Act V, Scene 3: Touchstone and Audrey alson plan to marry the next day. Two pages appar and sing a love song.
Act V, Scene 4: Orlando tells Duke Senior that he is unsure of Ganymede's promised magic. Rosalind, as Ganymede, appears with Silvius and Phebe; she elicits the Duke's assurance tht he will permit his daughter, Rosalind to marry Orlando if he can produce her, and he has Phebe reaffirm her promise to marry Silvius if she must refuse Ganymede. Then Ganymede leaves and Touchstone and Audrey arrive. Touchstone satirizes dueling and courtly honor. Hymen, the Roman god of marriage, leads a festive masque. Rosalind appearing as herself, enters and identifies herself as the Duke's daughter and Orlando's bride. Phebe sees that she must marry Silvius and agrees with good will, as Hymen sings a wedding hymn. Another Jaques, a brother of Oliver and Orlando, arrives with news that Duke Frederick, having come to Arden with the intention of killing Duke Senior, has instead been reformed by a holy man. He has accordingly restored the duchy to his banished brother and intends to retire to a monastery. The melancholy Jaques decides to join him. preferring a solitary life of contemplation to the festive court. He leaves as the wedding celebration begins with a dance. Rosalind then speaks an epilogue, soliciting applause for the play.
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