Character Directory

Duke Senior

Duke Senior Character in As You Like It, ruler deposed by his brother, Duke Frederick, and exiled to the Forest of Arden. The father of Rosalind, Duke Senior is a symbol of authority and wisdom with little distinctive personality. Before we meet him, we are told that he and his followers in exile 'fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden world' (1.1.118-119), a reference to the rustic life idealized in Pastoral literature. In his first speech the Duke introduces the audience to Arden and firmly establishes the contrast between the woodland world and the realities of politics and power: 'Hath not old custom made this life more sweet / Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods / More free from peril than the envious court?' (2.1.2-4). The Duke makes the best of his exile, finding 'tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything' (2.1.16-17). Such remarks, like the songs of Amiens, express the ideal of an escape from the pressures of the real world.

However, the Duke is aware that Arden is no paradise. He acknowledges that he has 'seen better days' (2.7.120), and he shares some attitudes with the alienated and melancholy courtier Jaques. In 2.1.22-25 he regrets having to kill deer for food shortly before an elaboration on the thought is attributed to Jaques.  In 2.7.137-139 he suggests to Jaques his famous comparison of human life to the action in a drama ('All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players' [2.7.139-140]). Nevertheless, the Duke also opposes this point of view: in 2.7.64-69, he chastises Jaques for wishing to satirize the world when he is himself hardly free from sin, and, in doing so, he sets a limit on the play's tolerance for Jaques' criticisms.  Most important, when Duke Frederick's religious conversion and abdication are reported in 5.4, Duke Senior is immediately ready to resume his dukedom, and, as Jaques remarks, his 'patience and . . . virtue well deserve it' (5.4.186). The Duke's fondness for the pastoral life is less powerful than his sense of social responsibility, mirroring Shakespeare's own view that a ruler's duty to his position is paramount.

Duke Frederick

Duke Frederick is the younger brother and deposer of Duke Senior.  Duke Frederick is the villain of the play. A cardboard character with no real personality, he is a conventional bad man, intended simply to anchor one end of the play's scale of values. He not only exiles his brother to the Forest of Arden, but he also banishes his innocent niece, Rosalind, thus provoking the flight of his daughter, Celia. His hostility towards Rosalind is said to be based 'upon no other argument / But that the people praise her for her virtues, / And pity her for her good father's sake' (1.3.268-271). The Dukes reported reformation, after encountering 'an old religious man' (5.4.159) while launching an army against Arden, is entirely unbelievable in human terms. However, it symbolizes the play's climactic triumph of harmony and reconciliation.


Jaquess, pronounced JAY-quees, is a gloomy follower of Duke Senior who provides a contrast to the play's comic values. Jaques muses on the viciousness of human hypocrisy, affects to dislike music and dancing, and praises only the satire that can expose the sins of the world. When the duke prepares to return to his dukedom at the play's close, accompanied by most of the other characters, Jaques decides to stay in the Forest of Arden and pursue a life of contemplation.

Jaques' pessimism and self-imposed isolation place him at odds with the play's central tenet, that love is the most valued element in human life. However, he never seriously threatens this ideal; his position is consistently undercut, in part because Shakespeare envisioned Jaques to some extent as a parody of a fashionable 16th-century affectation of cynicism and melancholy. People who held this attitude doubtless felt that they appeared intellectually superior and penetrating, but others found them amusingly pretentious.

The ineffectuality of Jaques' ideas is repeatedly pointed up by his repudiation by the other major characters. His elaborately melancholy pose is described even before we meet him, when the duke hears of his lament over a slain deer (2.1.26-66). In 2.5, in his first

appearance, Jaques satirizes Amiens song, which mirrors the duke's sentiments about the virtues of life in Arden. Then, in 2.7, having encountered the jester Touchstone, he raves about the opportunities for a Fool to 'cleanse th'infected world' (2.7.60) through satire. However, Jaques is then sternly chastised by the duke for 'chiding sin' (2.7.64) when he has been a sinner himself. Even Jaques' most spectacular speech, his cynical depiction of the seven ages of man, beginning, 'All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players' (2.7.139-140), is undercut. No character bothers to respond to it, and, immediately after Jaques' harrowing description of old age, the ancient Adamis borne on stage and treated as a respected member of the community.

Jaques is most explicitly contrasted with the lovers Rosalind and Orlando. When he first meets Orlando, Jaques declares he would rather be alone, and he disparages Orlando's poetry, his wit, and his lover's name. Jaques has said that he is seeking a fool, meaning Touchstone, but Orlando invites him to look in the brook, where he will see his own reflection. Insulted, Jaques leaves.

Rosalind is similarly dismissive. In 4.1 Jaques asserts that he is melancholy, saying, 'I do love it better than laughing' (4.1.4). The heroine fiercely insists that those who are excessive in laughter or melancholy are abominable fellows, and betray themselves to every modern censure, worse than drunkards' (4.1.5-8). Further, when he says that his state of mind has been influenced by his travels, she delivers a standard Elizabethan diatribe on the foolishness of travel. Significantly, these rebukes each occur just before one of the two major courtship scenes between Rosalind and Orlando, 3.2.290-423 and 4.1.40-190. Jaques' negativism must be overcome before the lovers' affirmation can occur.

Touchstone seems to resemble Jaques at first glance; they are both given to satire, wit, and cynicism.  However, Touchstone is a professional comic whose statements are usually meant only to be humorous.  His comprehension of the world's ways stirs him to amusement rather than despair. Jaques, by contrast, is a philosopher of sorts, and he has a consistently dour viewpoint that opposes sociability; as he remarks, 'I am for other than for dancing measures' (5.4.192).

Jaques wishes for a pristine past, before human societies came to Arden to kill deer, before humans existed at all, perhaps. This is an extreme form of the Pastoral literary conventions, a target of the play's parody. Such extravagantly anti-social desires place Jaques beyond the reach of the celebration of love that closes the play. This is a recurring device that Shakespeare uses in his Comedies: characters whose actions are not motivated by love and whose presence would mar the harmonious resolution of the play—such as Don John of Much Ado About Nothing and Malvolio Twelfth Night—are left out of such scenes of reconciliation.

However, Jaques is not a villain, as is Don John. Except in his encounter with Orlando in 3.2, he behaves with civility. In 2.5 he and a group of fellow courtiers listen to music. In 4.2 he sings with others in a ribald interlude celebrating the hunt with jokes about cuckold's horns and deer's antlers (quite forgetful of his distress over the slain deer of 2.1). Even his satire of Amiens' song in 2.5 is good-natured, particularly since the 'gross fools' (2.5.53) he criticizes include himself. Also, although he expresses anti-social views, Jaques converses with more different people than any other character. Finally, the blessings that Jaques bestows on the duke and each of the marrying couples in 5.4.185-192 are pleasant and humorous, as well as perceptive.

In fact, Jaques' closing lines reveal that he, too, has been affected by the general awareness of love's power that surrounds him. He knows that he is not destined to be a part of it, but he certainly does not begrudge the lovers their happiness. In fact, his final remarks concern his friends and their prospects; Jaques has become humanized. He remains isolated, but he is no longer a malcontent. He does not disparage the wedding festivities; he simply opts for something else. His reason for remaining in Arden is eminently acceptable: 'There is much matter to be heard and learn'd' (5.4.184).

Jaques' final self-acceptance is in keeping with the play's spirit of conciliation, most vividly represented by the multiple marriage in 5.4. Further, his early cynicism, although inappropriate to the world of Arden and therefore countered by the other characters, sharpens the flavor of a play that might otherwise be overly sentimental. Lastly, Jaques' railing reminds us that outside the magical world of Arden, the ways of the world are all too often wicked indeed. 


Amiens is a follower of Duke Senior.  He functions primarily to affirm the duke's sentiments about his exile in Arden. His songs, which he sings in 2.5.1-8, 2.5.35-42, and 2.7. 174-193, insist on the virtues of life in the woods, compared to life at court: 'Here shall [one] see / No enemy, / But winter and rough weather' (2.5.6-8). Scholars believe that Amiens may have first been played by Robert Armin, a singer/comedian who joined Shakespeare's acting company, the Chamberlains’s Men, just before As You Like It was written.  Armin probably played Touchstone also, but Amiens' songs may have been created with his abilities in mind.

Le Beau Le Beau is a foppish nobleman in the court of the tyrannous Duke Frederick. Rosalind and Celia mock Le Beau in 1.2.86-114. He is fastidious in his diction but less so in his tastes; his description of brutal wrestling as 'good sport' (1.2.92) provokes Touchstone quite sensible reply: 'It is the first time that ever I heard breaking of ribs was sport for ladies.' (1.2.128-129). However, Le Beau's affectations and callousness are offset when he warns Orlando of the Duke's evil intentions in 1.2. 251-275.

Charles is a professional performer who takes on all comers, under the patronage of the aristocratic Oliver. In 1.1 Oliver's younger brother Orlando proposes to challenge Charles at a forthcoming festival, and Oliver falsely informs Charles that Orlando, by nature an evil man, intends to kill him. He promises Charles that he will not be punished if Orlando dies instead, and the wrestler assures Oliver that this will be the outcome. In 1.2, however, Orlando defeats Charles soundly. This scene helps to establish Orlando as an hero. Charles also introduces a major theme in 1.1, informing us—and Oliver—of the fact that Duke Senior, having been deposed and exiled by his brother, Duke Frederick, has set up a court in the Forest of Arden.  Shakespeare derived his wrestler from his source, Thomas Lodge’s Rosalynde, but toned down the character considerably. The original, an inhumanly strong and cruel villain, takes a bribe to kill Orlando's counterpart, but Charles is led to believe he will be in the right to do so; Lodge's wrestler kills his earlier opponents outright, while Charles' survive. Lodge made much of the contrast between his hero and the gigantic, villainous wrestler; Shakespeare's Charles is a more neutral figure who is simply defeated for the good of the plot. 


Oliver is the older brother of Orlando. Oliver is plainly a villain from the outset. In 1.1 he is seen to have deprived Orlando of his birthright, then he plots to have Orlando killed by the wrestler Charles. His malice derives from envy,  as he admits when he observes that Orlando's virtues are so great that he, Oliver, is 'altogether dispraised' (1.1.168-169). In 3.1 Oliver becomes a victim himself, as the tyrannous Duke Frederick seizes his estate and threatens him with banishment if he does not capture Orlando. Oliver protests, asserting that he 'never lov'd my brother in my life' (3.1.14) (to which the Duke replies concisely, 'More villain thou' [3.1.15]).

Yet in 4.3 Oliver is a reformed person, a gentleman of sufficient virtue to attract the love of CELIA, whom he marries in 5.4. This turnabout has no humanly credible motivation, nor is it meant to; Oliver is a cardboard character, intended to play a purely symbolic role. His villainy serves to heighten the malevolence from which the Forest of Arden offers escape, and the change in him testifies to the power of love, as found in this idyllic wood, to defeat evil. However, Oliver's conversion is not simply magical; it is the result of Orlando's humane decision to forswear revenge and save his sleeping brother from the serpent and lioness, as Oliver describes in 4.3.102-131. This unselfish act, undertaken at the risk of Orlando's life, provokes Oliver's utter total repentance. Oliver decides to give his estates to Orlando, and his loving relationship with Celia, incredible though it is in realistic terms, is the ultimate symbolic confirmation of—and reward for—his sincerity.


Orlando is the lover of Rosalind. Orlando is first seen as a victim of his older brother, Oliver, who has seized Orlando's rightful inheritance and plots to have him killed by the wrestler Charles. After defeating Charles (and meeting Rosalind) in 1.2, Orlando is warned by his faithful servant, Adam, that Oliver still intends to harm him, and the two flee in 2.3. As they arrive in the Forest of Arden, Orlando's noble spirit is stressed as he stoops to robbery in order to find food for the feeble Adam.  Fortunately, his efforts lead him to the court-in-exile of Duke Senior, where, in 2.7, he is welcomed as a gentleman. He recalls Rosalind in a juvenile and conventionally romantic way, as he hangs love poems to her from the trees, but he encounters her only in her disguise as Ganymede, who scoffs at his professed love and suggests that he might be cured of it if he pretends to woo 'him' and is rebuffed. Orlando is consistent in his avowals, however, though only later does he come to a mature sense of what love means.  The growing power of love in him is demonstrated when he resists the temptation to let a lioness kill his evil brother and instead risks his own life to save him, as Oliver reports in 4.3.98-132. Orlando has become

aware of his own need for love and reconciliation in all aspects of his life. His full maturation is triggered by the love that arises between Celia and the reformed Oliver. Faced with the real thing, Orlando tells Ganymede, 'I can live no longer by thinking' (5.2.50), and Rosalind realises that she can now discard her disguise, for Orlando is unquestionably committed to her and not simply to the idea of romantic love. Though Rosalind is the spokesperson for most of the play's position on the nature of love, Orlando's development is a powerful secondary demonstration of love's link to self-knowledge.

Orlando is something of a cardboard character. As a handsome leading man without a very well-developed personality, he contributes to the play's parody of Pastoral literary conventions. Shakespeare's original audiences will have recognized Orlando as a romantic hero immediately, for reasons that are less evident to modern readers and viewers. His name is a version of Roland, one of the greatest heroes of medieval legend and literature, and an Orlando was also the hero of the most popular and well-known of 16th-century pastoral romances, Ludovico Aristos’s Orlando Furioso (1516, translated into English by Sir John Harington in 1591). Further, Shakespeare's Orlando is identified with two great heroes of classical legend, Aeneas and Hercules. In 2.7 Orlando carries the weak and starving Adam to the Duke's banquet, a tableau that, to a classically educated reader or theatre-goer, must have brought to mind the well-known image, from Virgil’s Aeneid, of Aeneas carrying his father to safety during the sack of Troy. And, to an Elizabethan audience, Orlando's conquests of Charles and the lioness will have immediately suggested the myths of Hercules wrestling Antaeus—depictions of which were extremely popular throughout Renaissance Europe—and his killing the Nemean lion barehanded. In addition, Shakespeare dropped a broader hint when Rosalind, says to Orlando, 'Now Hercules be thy speed, young man!' (1.2.198).

Jaques De Boys

Jaques is the brother of Oliver and Orlando. Jaques is named in 1.1.5, but he does not appear until 5.4, when he suddenly arrives with the news of Duke Frederick's armed march on Arden and later conversion to a life of religious contemplation. The episode both provides a place for the villain in the play's ultimate reconciliation, and, in its suddenness, intensifies the play's atmosphere of romantic wonder.

The duplication of names with a major character, the pessimistic courtier Jaques, presents a minor difficulty. Jaques de Boys identifies himself only as 'the second son of old Sir Rowland' (5.4.151). In the First Folio edition of the play, stage directions identify him as 'Second Brother', and some modern editions follow this practice, avoiding the issue to some extent, but the mention of his name in 1.1 suggests carelessness on Shakespeare's part. Perhaps the playwright originally intended his melancholy courtier to be Orlando and Oliver's brother, established his existence with the reference at 1.1.5, and then developed Jaques as a member of the exiled Duke Senior's court, neglecting to remove the earlier reference.


Adam is the aged servant of Orlando Adam is a figure of unalloyed goodness, loyalty, and faith. In 2.3 the old man volunteers his life's savings to help Orlando flee the evil intentions of his brother Oliver. Orlando equates Adam's virtue with 'the constant service of the antique world, /When service sweat for duty, not for meed' (2.3.57-58). Their flight to ARDEN (1) nearly kills the old man, and Orlando's attempt to steal food for Adam brings him into contact with the exiled court of Duke Senior. Adam is a sentimental, melodramatic archetype of the loyal servant, but he also has a credible personality. Verbose and nostalgic in the manner of the aged, he boasts a touching combination of moral strength and physical frailty.

A tradition dating from the 18th century asserts that Shakespeare himself performed the role of Adam in the original production by the Chamberlain’s Men.  This theory is supported by evidence that the playwright played old men on other occasions, but it cannot be proven. Shakespeare derived the character from his source, Thomas Lodge’s Rosalynde. Lodge in turn followed a medieval English poem. The Tale of Gamelyn, which features a faithful servant named Adam Spencer (meaning 'steward' or 'butler'), and the figure seems to be an ancient staple of English folklore.

Dennis Servant of Oliver.  Dennis appears only to announce the arrival of the wrestler Charles in 1.1

Touchstone is a professional Fool and follower of Rosalind. Touchstone is initially in the service of Duke Frederick, but he joins Rosalind and Celia when they flee to the Forest of Arden after Act 1. He uses his unbridled humor to satirize all targets. In particular, Touchstone parodies the romances of the other characters, in his own courtship of the goatherd Audrey

A touchstone is a mineral used to test gold and silver alloys; when the alloy is rubbed with a touchstone, a discoloration, whose precise shade indicates the metal's purity, is produced. Similarly, something of the quality of the other characters is revealed through Touchstone's mockery of them. Jesting and mimicking, he tests their approaches to the worlds of Pastoral love and country life, the themes of the play.

Unlike Jaques, who also mocks the other characters, Touchstone presents no alternatives and has no clear-cut vision of the world. Also unlike Jaques, he is consistently funny; his cynicism is amused, not despairing, and his enthusiastic approach to love and rusticity stands in marked opposition to Jaques' isolation. Significantly, while Jaques withdraws from the world at the play's close, Touchstone marries and is part of the climactic festival of love and reconciliation.

The jester is a courtier, both by inclination and profession, a point he explains satirically when he says, To have trod a measure, I have flattered a lady, I have been politic with my friend, smooth with mine enemy, I have undone three tailors, I have had four quarrels, and like to have fought one.' (5.4.43-47). In 1.2.58-74 his first jest of the play is at the expense of knightly 'honour', and he mocks LE BEAU'S callous enthusiasm for brutal sports in 1.2.127-129. In his encounter with the shepherd CORIN in 3.2.11-83 he cannot keep his arguments for the superiority of courtly wit from backfiring upon himself, so extravagant are they. His extraordinary send-up of dueling (5.4.67-102) has lost much of its point for modern readers, but it is a virtuoso satire of the handbooks of gentlemanly combat that flourished in Shakespeare's day.

Touchstone also turns his humor on the supposedly idyllic country life; when he first arrives in Arden, he exclaims, 'Ay, now am I in Arden, the more fool I; when I was at home I was in a better place . . .' (2.4.13-14). His feet hurt, and he will not let his discomfort go unnoticed. He mocks the dimness of Audrey's rustic swain, William, in 5.1, and his pursuit of Audrey satirizes peasant life by caricaturing an unconsidered, merely biological mating. 

However, Touchstone's courtship of Audrey is most strikingly a comical contrast to the relationship of Silvius and PHEBE, who present the literary ideal of pastoral love. Touchstone's forthrightness and Audrey's passivity enable these lovers to achieve a very direct and uncomplicated match, whereas only Rosalind's elaborate machinations can unite the shepherd and shepherdess. Earlier, Touchstone mocks both Silvius and Rosalind, after they remark on the pathos of love, by offering the preposterous example of his own romance with 'Jane Smile' (2.4.43-53).

Touchstone's romance is also contrasted with the genuinely moving love between Rosalind and Orlando. In 3.2.99-110 his bawdy parody of Orlando's love poetry is intended to embarrass his mistress. She responds with an apt comparison of the jester and a soft fruit, insinuating that Touchstone will be rotten with age before his mind is ripe. The fool has the last word, however, when he says, 'You have said; but whether wisely or no, let the forest judge' (3.2.119-120). Like the forest. Touchstone's indiscriminate comedy is a force of nature, and all manner of things are 'judged' by exposure to it.

Significantly, Touchstone's initial encounter with Audrey follows immediately after Orlando's meeting with the disguised Rosalind. Orlando's promise 'by the faith of my love' (3.2.416) to demonstrate his passion for the supposedly absent Rosalind is thus juxtaposed with Touchstone's insistence on animal desire as the motive for his own romance. The jester is detached about and resigned to his role as a husband: 'As the ox hath his bow ... so man hath his desires, and as pigeons bill, so wedlock would be nibbling' (3.3.71-73). His assumption that any wife will assuage his physical desire is the opposite extreme to Orlando's proposition that only Rosalind can possibly serve. The idealism of the latter point of view lacks the acknowledgement of instinct that Touchstone offers. As Rosalind and Orlando's relationship evolves, the play moves beyond Touchstone's simplistic position, but first it must also offer this stance as a specimen of pastoral love.

Touchstone is a professional jester, a performer who was expected to make fun of the members of an aristocratic court for their entertainment and as living proof that they did not fear criticism. His profession required a jester to seem incapable of common sense, and he was accordingly excused from ordinary social life. He developed a purposeful detachment from the real lives of the people around him in favor of a concern with the artificialities of wit. Touchstone is seen only in the light of his calling; though delightful, he is not a fully developed person. His amalgam of fast talk and brash earthiness is dazzling, but he is merely doing his job. As such, he can parody the rest of the characters, but the play is not at all dependent on him, as it is on Rosalind orJaques. If he were absent, we would be poorer for not knowing him, but As You Like It would still make its key points.

Jesters were familiar figures in the drama and literature of the 16th century, obvious vehicles for parody and satire. It is thought that the part of Touchstone was written for Robert Armin an actor who specialized in these parts and who joined the Chamberlain’s Men at about the time when As You Like It was written.  Touchstone was the first of Shakespeare's jesters, and in Jaques' speeches describing an off-stage performance by the 'motley fool' (2.7.12-61), one can almost hear the playwright exulting in the potential of this new sort of role. 

Sir Oliver Martext Sir Oliver is a county Priest. In 3.3 Touchstone and Audrey meet with Martext, 'the vicar of the next village (3.3 _37), be married. Martext speaks only two lines before the ceremony is broken up by Jaques, who belittles the virtues of a marriage performed by a country bumpkin and leads the couple away.  Martext is a parodic figure with particular relevance to Shakespeare's audiences. The English Reformation had occurred about 50 years before the play was written, producing a shortage of trained clergy.  Not only did many Catholic priests refuse their allegiance to the Church of England, but the new church did not develop training programs immediately. The quality of the lesser clergy was accordingly poor, even as late as the 17th century, and the illiteracy and ignorance of country priests were well known and was scenes such as these were quite recognizable.

Corin is an honest, elderly shepherd. In 2.4 and in 3.5 Corin is associated with Silvius, a conventional shepherd who is filled with literary conceits about love; in most Pastoral literature the countryside was an idealized setting for amorous tales of shepherds and shepherdesses, such as Silvius and his beloved, Phebe. Corin, by contrast, is a real shepherd. He describes the economic plight of the shepherd to Rosalind and Celia in 2.4.73-84, while at the same time establishing himself as a representative of traditional rural values, offering such modest hospitality as he can.

In 3.2 Corin expresses his down-to-earth relationship to his world, and he can say, 'I am a true laborer:  I earn that I eat, get that I wear; owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness . . .' (3.2.71-72). Touchstone wittily derides this simple life, but he cannot upset Corin.  The honest shepherd anchors the rustic life of Arden in the real world and thus onsets the high-flown sentiment of pastoral tradition.

Corin's name was commonly applied to shepherds in late medieval and Renaissance romantic literature; it may be a masculine form of Corinna active c. 500-470 B.C.), an ancient Greek lyric poetess. Shakespeare may have been inspired to use the name by an English play of the 1570s, published in 1599, Syre Clyomon and Clamydes, in which a princess disguised as a man serves a shepherd named Corin.

Silvius Silvius is a young shepherd, lover of Phebe. Silvius is a caricature of the ardent lover in the Pastoral tradition that the play satirizes. Silvius' courtship of Phebe is presented as 'a pageant truly played' (3.4.48), and as such it follows well-established traditions. Using a familiar gambit of the Elizabethan sonneteer, Silvius insists that, in rejecting his love, Phebe is harder on him than an executioner.  Rosalind calls him 'a tame snake' (4.3.70); his weakness, an exaggeration of the stock posture of the unrequited lover, is part of the play's mockery of literary conventions

Hymen is the Roman god of marriage. In 5.4.107-145 Hymen is the central figure in the MASQUE that accompanies Rosalind’s appearance, undisguised, to resolve the play's complexities. Hymen, after making a formal statement of divine pleasure when earthly confusions are resolved, announces the return of Rosalind. Rosalind mturn declares her true relationship to her father, Duke Senior, to Orlando, and to Phebe, all hitherto hidden by her disguise as a young man. Hymen then solemnly blesses four couples: Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Phebe and Silvius, and Touchstone and Audrey. He then leads a 'wedlock hymn' (5.4.136), which everyone sings. This formal celebration of marriage represents the happy conclusion of the play's various courtships.

It is unclear whether Shakespeare intended Hymen as a human impersonator of a god taking part in a festive tableau arranged by Rosalind or as an actual deity appearing to mortals, as gods do in other Shakespearean plays.  In either case, Hymen's function is the same: his masque lends a gracefully solemn air to the play's climax.  The part of Hymen is often assigned to Amiens, who is a singer and who is present in the scene, according to the stage directions but who has no spoken lines.  


Rosalind is the lover of Orlando and the daughter of the exiled Duke Senior. Rosalind is the play's most important character. She symbolizes the love and commitment that finally prevail when her manipulations result in the multiple marriages of 5.4. Both a counselor and a learner about love, she presents many of the play's themes.

Although her banishment by Duke Frederick in 1.3 necessitates her masquerade as Ganymede, Rosalind retains the disguise in the Forest of Arden. As a young man she escapes the restrictions that were traditionally placed on women and can control her relationship with Orlando and influence that of Silvius and Phebe, conventional shepherds of Pastoral literature. Playing the parts of both a man and a woman, both an expert on love and its victim, she simultaneously mocks love and feels it, and she can test Orlando's feelings and her own. The result is both moving and comical, as she finds herself arguing against the conventions of love, saying, 'love is merely a madness' (3.3.388), even as she herself feels 'many fathoms deep ... in love!' (4.1.196).

Rosalind is a natural and unpretentious figure who opposes affectation both in Phebe and her own Orlando. She punctures the unworthy Phebe's lofty scorn for Silvius, rebuking her in down-to-earth terms that satirize the conventions of the hard-to-get lover, telling her to '. . . sell when you can, you are not for all markets' (3.5.60). And when Orlando says he will die if Rosalind refuses him, she, speaking as Ganymede, denies it: '. . . men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love' (4.1. 101-103). Similarly, his conventional assertion that he will love Rosalind 'for ever, and a day' (4.1.137) brings her reply, 'Say a day, without the ever . . . men are April when they woo, December when they wed. Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives' (4.1.138-141). This recognition that emotions evolve through time does not deny the virtue of affection or imply a lessening of the intensity of her own love for Orlando. She is herself at a peak of loving good humor as she speaks; she simply wishes to counter the egotistic intensity of love cults, knowing that a more human approach will yield a truer affection. Our final sense of the love between Rosalind and Orlando is enhanced by this evidence of its freedom from illusion.

Rosalind, in seeking Orlando's love, commits herself to an involvement in life that is directly opposed to the isolation of the melancholy Jaques, the play's other major figure. She criticizes Jaques' excessive pessimism when she lumps him with all other extremists, who are, she says,'. . . abominable fellows, . . . worse than drunkards' (4.1.5-8). Her repudiation of his negativism is emphasized by its juxtaposition to a passage of elated love talk with Orlando, which follows immediately. Similarly, Jaques' earlier rejection by Orlando is followed by Rosalind's initial encounter with her lover in Arden. Rosalind's love replaces Jaques' antisocial reserve repeatedly. Rosalind's opposition to Jaques thus comes across indirectly as well as in explicit dialogue.

When we first meet Rosalind, in 1.2, she is sad because of her father's banishment, but her spirits rise throughout the play, as first she meets Orlando at the wrestling match in the same scene and as she later tests and accepts his love. Her attitude towards love grows more mature as well. In 1.2 she treats love as a lark, saying, 'I will . . . devise sports. Let me see, what think you of falling in love?' (1.2.23-24). She is clearly ripe for love, but her attitude is naive.

In Arden, Rosalind acquires a fuller understanding of love. She absorbs the jester Touchstone bawdy parodies of love in his account of Jane Smile (2.4.43-53) and in his comic love poem 'If a hart do lack a hind' (3.2.99-110). As Ganymede, Rosalind acquires a growing sense of what love can be, as her responses to both Orlando and Phebe indicate. Then, when Orlando's own growth makes him impatient with his 'courtship' of Ganymede, in 5.2, Rosalind is ready to reintroduce herself undisguised and claim his love.  Rosalind's association with magic in Act 5—in claiming, as Ganymede, the ability to 'do strange things' (5.2.59) and in invoking the blessing of Hymen

in the Masque in which she appears in 5.4—suits the role she has played among the lovers. Disguised as Ganymede, she has been invisible in a sense and has been able to control the situation entirely, guiding the development of Orlando's love through the playful fantasy of portraying herself, bringing together Silvius and Phebe with her 'magical' change of sex, and over-seeing the union of Oliver and Celia as the latter's supposed brother. She embodies comic pleasure, and her humorous tricks and deceits result in the play's happy ending centered on marriage.

In the Epilogue, Rosalind speaks as a man, saying, 'If I were a woman . . .' (5.4.213), referring to the fact that the part was originally played by a boy. This offers a piquant twist to her final manipulations, for we are reminded of the equally magical theatrical illusion that has given us one of Shakespeare's most charming heroine.

Celia Rosalind's cousin and friend, daughter of Duke Frederick. Celia is a secondary but important figure. In 1.3 she defies her tyrannical father when he banishes Rosalind; her spirited loyalty and sense of morality trigger the central action of the play, the two women's flight to the Forest of Arden Thereafter, Celia listens to the disguised Rosalind's professions of love for ORLANDO, which she cannot otherwise express while disguised as a man. Celia responds skeptically in remarks such as,'.. . the oath of a lover is no stronger than the word of a tapster' (3 4.27-28), which maintain the play's ironic stance towards romance until the climactic resolution.  When Celia herself is betrothed to Oliver in Act 5 the triumph of love is complete. The marriage of the chaste Celia to the once-villainous Oliver has been criticized as unrealistic, unfair to Celia, and unduly generous to Oliver. However, the union is largely symbolic in intent. It serves to confirm the sincerity of Oliver's repentance, and it contributes greatly to the spirit of reconciliation that closes the play.

PHEBE is a shepherdess that is loved by Silvius. Phebe is a caricature of the cruel shepherdess of the Pastoral tradition, who rejects the love of the shepherd. In spurning Silvius, Phebe scorns romantic passion and denies that her coldness can wound her wooer. In presenting such a perfect parody of literary lovers, Shakespeare permits his hero and heroine, Rosalind and Orlando, to seem relatively normal and to conduct their own courtship free from the extravagant posturing of traditional romances.  Rosalind, disguised as a young man, Ganymede, chastises Phebe for her attitude, pointing out that, being homely, she would do better to take Silvius than mock him. She advises Phebe, 'Sell when you can, you are not for all markets' (3.5.60). This extreme candor parodies the exaggerations of conventional sentiment.  Then Phebe falls in love with Ganymede and thus assumes the same role as Silvius—that of the love-struck suitor. When Rosalind eventually discloses her true identity and holds Phebe to her promise to take Silvius if she could not have Ganymede, she points up the lesson of the parody: love is falsified by an excessive insistence on doting or rejection.


Audrey is a goatherd loved by Touchstone. As a Shakespearean Clown , a comic caricature of a peasant. She is uneducated to a ridiculous degree—she is unfamiliar with the words 'feature' and 'poetical'—and she says little, being chiefly a butt for Touchstone's humor. She is, however, charming in her simplicity. She acknowledges her homeliness, saying 'and therefore I pray the gods make me honest' (3.3.29-30), and, as her marriage to Touchstone approaches, she rejoices tentatively: 'I do desire it with all my heart; and I hope it is no dishonest desire, to desire to be a woman of the world' (5.3.3-5).

Though she is a minor and somewhat conventional figure, Audrey is a deftly drawn personality who helps fill out the play's satiric presentation of country life and love. Her passivity contrasts tellingly with Phebe’s conventional resistance to Silvius; the two couples parody the lovers of the Pastoral tradition, each in their own ways. Audrey mocks the pretensions of the literary shepherdesses represented by Phebe by being exaggeratedly down to earth.


Any of several minor characters in As You Like It, noblemen in the court of the exiled Duke ' Senior. In 2.1 two Lords tell the duke of an encounter with Jaques, and in 2.7 they attend the Duke's forest banquet. They also seem likely to be the unspecified 'others' of several stage directions—e.g., at the opening of 2.5.  In addition, two other Lords, from the court of the evil Duke Frederick, tell their master in 2.2 that Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone have fled his court.


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