Explore Shakespeare’s presentation of love in “As You Like It” By Daniel Pears Love has always been a foremost feature of the plays written by William Shakespeare and “As You Like It” is no exception with love regularly being represented throughout the play in a variety of ways. Just like in Shakespeares other works “As You Like It” is also broken down in to a main plot, which is then accompanied by smaller sub-plots that are scattered thorughout the play.
Shakerspeare along with the play “As You Like It” skillfully uses these plots well to demonstrate various types of love. One variety of love that Shakespeare anylyses deeply is that of courtly love, whose ideas featured heavily around the fact that love brings suffering and agony to the lover and the theory that the male lover is controlled by his mistress to whom he must adhere to. Courtly Love had become a popular subject to write about during Shakespeare’s Elizabethan period and was also strongly evident in english literature for centuries previously.
The concept of pastoral romance is also expressed in “As You Like It” , in which characters in rural countryside areas appear to act freely and joyfully , and this causes relationships to revel successfully and contently. In other words Pastoral romance seems to betray the countryside in stories as some sort of catalyst speeding up the progress and success of overall relationships. On the other hand life in the court seems to lack this optimism and instead living in developed areas (towns, villages, cities etc) seems to damage love between characters due to the stress and demand of court life.
This type of romance is also strongly associated with disguise and the thought of characters falling in love with the opposite sex even when in disguise. The love in Shakespeare’s plays was recognised by the public of the Elizabethan period who had a good understanding about how genuine and pure love was between characters along with a good perception of the characters personalities (such as social status) just through the language they spoke during the play.
The relationships in “As You Like It” are tested in one way or another, as most have to overcome obstacles and problems in order to succeed The particular relationships we see in the play symbolize and highlight the variant types of love that William Shakespeare wishes to explore. For example the familial love between the brothers of Orlando and Oliver, Duke Frederick and Duke Senior are emphasized due to the fact that both relationships are struggling and are under much tension when in normal circumstances you would presume this type of Familial relationship to prosper solidily, but alternatively have crumbled consistently.
The relationship amid Orlando and his eldest borther, Oliver has reached an even more dire state, due to the recent event of their father Sir Rowland de Boys tragically dying for reasons unknown to us. Since this death of Sir Rowland de Boys Oliver and Orlando have been at conflict over the acts of Oliver who is restricting Orlando from receiving a gentleman’s education even though their father had wished him to have one. Both characters deal with this issue by becoming heated and ill-tempered towards each other.
This is shown in Act 1 Scene 1 where Oliver says: “Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain? ” Oliver and Orlando’s relationship changes significantly during the course of the play and it is seen that the countryside and its links to pastoral romance are responsible for the reformation of their relationship. This is true because the turning point of their complex relationship takes place in the countryside to where Orlando’s act of decency, (when he saves Oliver’s life from a viscous Lioness) provokes Oliver to want to become a more amiable person.
Also the romantic relationships of the brothers between Rosalind and Celia respectfully seems to show that the concept of pastoral romance is functioning between them and therefore causing them to be more loving people. Understandably this friendly environment causes their own familial relationship to blossom. This transformation in their relationship is represented well when Oliver is delivering Orlando’s bloody handkerchief to Ganymede in Act 4 Scene 2. In this scene he confesses about his shameful past by saying: “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.
I do not shame To tell you what I was, since my conversion So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am. ” This indicates that he is aware that he was in the wrong before, but now values and loves his younger brother, even more so that he obeyed Orlando’s order to deliver his handkerchief. Another familial relationship present in the play is that of Duke Senior and his younger brother Duke Frederick. This particular relationship is struggling due to the fact that Duke Senior has been exiled from the court by his usurping brother Duke Frederick.
This unjustified act by Duke Frederick has left the two distant and bitter towards each other. This is shown in Act 2 Scene 3 when Duke Frederick is in the process of exiling Rosalind, the daughter of the banished Duke Senior. Duke Frederick’s tells Rosalind the reason for her being exiled is because: “Thou art thy father’s daughter. There’s enough. ” This shows that there is obviously some hatred between the two brothers, especially on Duke Frederick’s part.
Duke Senior and Duke Frederick react to this conflict in contrasting ways. Duke Senior seems to make the most out of the situation he has found himself in to positive effect. He does this to an extent that he’s actually enjoying life away from the court. On the other hand Duke Frederick deals with their dispute by becoming heated and showing irrational behavior (This is shown when out of blue he aggressively orders Rosalind to leave the court and even goes as far as saying he will kill her if she was not to obey) in play.
The hatred of Duke Frederick towards Duke Senior is incredibly similar to that of Oliver towards to Orlando, in that there seems to be no obvious reason for why they should detest their brothers so much. But just like Oliver and Orlando, Duke Frederick and Duke Senior’s relationships turns around positively in the latter stages of the play. This turn of events is due to the remarkable change of mind from Duke Frederick who persuaded by an old religious man on the outskirts of the forest to not invade the Forest of Ardenne decides to conclude his search for his brother.
Instead, as we’re told by Jacques de Boys in Act 5 Scene 4 that he: “After some question with him, was converted Both from his enterprise and from the world, His crown bequeathing to his banished brother, And all their lands restored to them again That were with him exiled” This act of love shown by Duke Frederick towards Duke Senior and his company could also be due to the powers the countryside possesses through pastoral romance.
This could be explained by the way that Duke Frederick has a dramatic change of heart when entering the forest and he also wants to be “freed” from court life by deciding to join a monastery. A prominent relationship on display in “As You Like” is between the inseparable cousins that are Rosalind and Celia. This relationship is under strain mainly just because of the complications surrounding their father’s relationship. They have been brought in to the thick of their father’s own personal conflict due to Duke Frederick’s antics, referring to him wanting to exile Rosalind and consequently separate Rosalind and Celia.