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All You Need To Know About Shakespeare
As You Like It

As You Like It
Romeo and Juliet
Much Ado About Nothing
Twelfth Night
The Tempest
A Midsummer Night's Dream


Characters:
Rosalind- daughter of the Duke Senior;  she is exiled and takes on the identity of Ganymede
Orlando- the youngest son to Sir Rowland de Bois and younger  brother to Olive
Celia- daughter of Duke Frederick;  she is Rosalind's best friend who accompanies Rosalind to the Forest of Ardenne as
Aliena
Duke Senior- father of Rosalind;  he has been usurped by his brother Duke Frederick and exiled to the Forest of Ardenne with a group of loyal followers
Duke Frederick- brother to Duke Senior and father to Celia;  he usurped his brother
Jaques- a man who followed Duke Senior to the Forest of Ardenne;  he believes himself the perfect fool
Touchstone- a fool who accompanies Rosalind and Celia to the Forest of Ardenne
Oliver- oldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and older brother to Orlando
Silvius- a young shepherd in love with Phoebe
Phoebe- a young shepherdess who rejects the affections of Silvius and falls in love with Rosalind as Ganymede
Lord Amiens- singing lord faithful to Duke Senior
Charles- wrestler who has to go up against Orlando
Adam- elderly lord formerly loyal to Rowland de Bois;  he accompanies and funds Orlando to the Forest
Rowland de Bois- father of Oliver and Orlando;  when he dies most of his estate goes to Oliver
Corin- shepherd friend of Silvius
Audrey- goat herd that agrees to marry Touchstone
William- young country boy in love with Audrey

Plot:  Sir Rowland de Bois has recently died, and according to custom Oliver receives the late lord's land and possessions.  As a last wish, Sir Rowland asked Oliver to take care of his brother, Orlando, and make sure he gets a good education.  Oliver happens to be a spiteful person, so he neglects his father's wishes and Orlando.  Orlando is deprived of an education that would befit his rank.  Orlando is also denied any of Sir Rowland's land.  A wrestler from Duke Fredrick's court named Charles comes to Oliver's court and finds out Orlando will challenge him.  Charles goes to Oliver to beg him to remove such a task from his shoulders, as beating a noble man would break the rules of society.  Oliver reassures Charles that Orlando is a wicked man who will stop at nothing to beat him, and that to defeat Orlando would be a service.  Oliver's words work on Charles, and the wrestler goes away not at all reluctant to beat Orlando.  
    Since being usurped by his brother Duke Frederick, Duke Senior has been living a Robin Hood-esque life in the Forest of Ardenne.  Rosalind stayed behind as allowed by Duke Frederick because she is Frederick's daughter Celia's best friend.  The day of the wrestling match comes, and Rosalind and Celia watch Orlando defeat Charles.  Orlando and Rosalind fall in love at once, but Rosalind keeps the fact a secret from all but Celia.  When Orlando returns home, Adam warns him that Oliver is planning to kill him.  Afraid for his life, Orlando decides to flee to the Forest of Ardenne, where he hopes to join Duke Senior's group of men.  Adam insists on going with him.  Duke Frederick in the meantime has changed his mind about Rosalind.  He banishes her. She plans on finding her father in the Forest of Ardenne, and Celia refuses to stay behind.  Rosalind disguises herself as a boy named Ganymede, and Celia disguises herself as a shepherdess named
Aliena, and they take along the fool Touchstone as himself.
    Duke Frederick is absolutely livid about his daughter's disappearance.  He finds out that Celia and Rosalind's exit somehow has taken place when Orlando's does, and he orders Oliver to lead the search for the missing people.  Should Oliver fail, Duke Frederick will take away all his land and possessions. The Duke also figures it's time to destroy his brother once and for all, so he begins to create an army.
    For Duke Senior is all about singing and being merry (typical Robin Hood stuff).  A hungry Orlando stumbles into Duke Senior's camp with the ailing Adam and demands that nobody eats until they get some food.  Duke Senior calms Orlando, and is able to gather that Orlando is the son of Sir Rowland, who was a dear friend of his.  Orlando and Adam are welcomed and given food.  Rosalind and Celia (as Ganymede and Aliena)  enter the forest and meet two shepherd/esses, Silvius and Phoebe.  Silvius is deeply in love with Phoebe, but she only scorns him.  Rosalind and Celia buy a small cottage, and move in. Rosalind is soon shocked to come across Orlando, who is pining for her.  Rosalind, as Ganymede, informs Orlando that she/he can cure Orlando of his love if he will go everyday to her/his cottage and woo her as if she was Rosalind.  Orlando consents and they begin.  
    Phoebe is becoming increasingly callous in her rejections of Silvius's love, so Rosalind tries to intervene.  When she does, Phoebe falls in love with her, as Ganymede.  Orlando doesn't show up for a lesson with Rosalind one day, and Rosalind becomes hysterical.  Then Oliver appears, and tells Rosalind and Celia of how Orlando saved him (Oliver) from a lion.   Celia and Oliver fall in love at once (Celia is still Aliena).  They agree to be wed.  Days go by, and Phoebe becomes more and more persistent in her love for Ganymede.  Orlando gets tired of pretending that Ganymede is Rosalind.  Rosalind herself sees that time is running out, so she agrees to marry Phoebe, and have everyone show up at the wedding the next day.  Then the charade will end.
    The next morning everyone is there as promised, and Rosalind has made sure the couples are there: Oliver and Celia, Touchstone and Audrey (a goat herd), Silvius and Phoebe, and Orlando as the obvious goose berry.  The group of lovers gathers around Duke Senior and his "merry men".  Rosalind has Phoebe promise to marry Silvius if she for any reason refuses Ganymede.  Rosalind also has Duke Senior promise that if she was available, he'd let his daughter marry Orlando.  Rosalind and Celia (both still in their respective disguises) leave briefly, and return with Hymen, the god of marriage.  Hymen marries all the couples, and there is much singing and dancing.  Their festivities are interrupted for a moment, when it is learned that on the way to kill Duke Senior, Duke Frederick came across a holy man who convinced Frederick to become a monk.  Duke Senior is a duke again.  The merriment continues.  

Quotes:
Jaques:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
act ii;  scene vii

Rosalind:

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.
act iv;  scene i

Rosalind:

For I must tell you friendly in your ear,
Sell when you can: you are not for all markets
act iii;  scene v

Page:
It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green corn-field did pass
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding:
Sweet lovers love the spring.
Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino
These pretty country folks would lie,
In spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding:
Sweet lovers love the spring.
This carol they began that hour,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that a life was but a flower
In spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding:
Sweet lovers love the spring.
And therefore take the present time,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino;
For love is crowned with the prime
In spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding:
Sweet lovers love the spring.
act v;  scene iii

Touchstone: 
Upon a lie seven times removed:--bear your body more
seeming, Audrey:--as thus, sir. I did dislike the
cut of a certain courtier's beard: he sent me word,
if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the
mind it was: this is called the Retort Courteous.
If I sent him word again 'it was not well cut,' he
would send me word, he cut it to please himself:
this is called the Quip Modest. If again 'it was
not well cut,' he disabled my judgment: this is
called the Reply Churlish. If again 'it was not
well cut,' he would answer, I spake not true: this
is called the Reproof Valiant. If again 'it was not
well cut,' he would say I lied: this is called the
Counter-cheque Quarrelsome: and so to the Lie
Circumstantial and the Lie Direct.
act v;  scene iv

Review:  In As You Like It, there are two poles to be compared: the jolliness of Duke Senior and indeed most of the characters, and the melancholy of Jaques.   Jaques actually enjoys being sad.  He asks Duke Senior to be the court fool, because he thinks it is suited towards him.  However, Jaques's speechs seem almost excessive and ridiculous.  In a play that so exults happiness, it seems odd to have such a character.  Even so, in the end Jaques gets exactly what he wants: he follows Duke Frederick to the monastery.  Jaques indeed gets his melancholy contemplative life.  On the other hand, the rest of the cast is enjoying happiness and love.  Here too you can see people going on and on to the point of absurdity.  Orlando and Silvius take the common image of love as a sickness and suffering and run with it.  Their suffering seems rather superfluous, for you see Rosalind in love and doing something about it.  As You Like It takes common images and ideas and points out the folly in them, all the while celebrating joy.  

Sources:
As You Like It
by William Shakespeare
thesaurus.reference.com
www.sparknotes.com
www.shakespeare-online.com
www-tech.mit.edu