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Variety of Love Relationships in Shakespeare’s As You Like It

The Variety of Love Relationships in Shakespeare’s As You Like It

One of the main concerns of man throughout the centuries has probably been to define the concept of love and to understand the complexities that govern love relationships among people. William Shakespeare seems to have been fully aware of the need and interest in love, since his work transcends time and place. Love is the central concern in As You Like It. This comedy presents different attitudes towards love, which may be derived from the conversations among its characters and from the romantic attachments portrayed in it. By comparing the different love relations in the play, one may further appreciate important facts about the concept of love. Moreover, love is also depicted as the force that rules over all kinds of human ties other than the romantic ones, namely familial bonds and friendship. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the concept of love portrayed in As You Like It, and to explore the different varieties of love relationships among its characters.

A reading of As You Like It may lead us to an understanding of the concept of love as embodying different ideas, which might be observed through the characters of the play. These ideas, love’s wealth, love’s truth, and love’s order, are expressed in the characters’ perceptions of love and in the way they relate to one another.

One of the interpretations attributed to the concept of love in this comedy, and often portrayed in Shakespeare’s plays, is that of love as a kind of richness, as a commercial enterprise in which men and women trade. Under this light, the bond beaten lovers gains a mercantilistic value and may thus be regarded as a kind of contract…

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…portrayed in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and to examine the love relationships in it. Through a careful observation of the characters’ perceptions about love, and of the way they engage in love relationships, we may conclude that the concept of love may be attributed different meanings, depending on individual and personal beliefs. Our conclusion may be derived from the various types of comic relations: familial, sexual, romantic, and friendship.

Works Cited and Consulted

Howard, Jean E., “Intoduction to As You Like It.” The Norton Shakespeare Ed. Stephen Greenblatt, New York: W. W. Norton

Shakespeare’s As You Like It – Importance of the Secondary Characters

As You Like It: The Importance of the Secondary Characters

As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, is a radiant blend of fantasy, romance, wit and humor. In this delightful romp, Rosalind stands out as the most robust, multidimensional and lovable character, so much so that she tends to overshadow the other characters in an audience’s memory, making them seem, by comparison, just “stock dramatic types”. Yet, As You Like It is not a stock romance that just happens to have Shakespeare’s greatest female role. The other members of the cast provide a well-balanced supporting role, and are not just stereotypes. Characters whom Shakespeare uses to illustrate his main theme of the variations of love are all more than one-use cardboards, as they must be fully drawn to relate to life. Those characters most easily accused of having a stock one-dimensionality are those inessential to the theme but important to the plot and useful as convenient foils, such as Duke Frederick and Oliver de Boys. The assertion of the question deserves this quote: “You have said; but whether wisely or no, let the forest judge.”

There is no doubt, either in the critical or play-going mind, that Rosalind is the “grandest of female roles” (Hazlitt). She encompasses a multitude of character brushstrokes, from the love struck maiden to the witty arch tongue to the steel-backboned princess to the fiery Wise One (Hazlitt). To add to the demands of the character Shakespeare adds in an exterior sex change and further makes Ganymede pretend to be Rosalind to Orlando. Though this kind of “boy acting a girl acting a boy acting a girl” kind of transmogrifications were not uncommon upon the Elizabethan stage, the kind of mind and acting portrayed …

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…bits of character that are definitely not stock, as in Charles’ original concern for Orlando and Sir Martext’s refusal to be made a fool of by Touchstone. These make them more than stock, but they are still as cardboard when compared to Rosalind.

As You Like It contains as many characters as there are in life, but Rosalind is used as the vehicle for the Ideal. Her main supporting characters are full of life, and though not as much as Rosalind, it is still life for all of it. The less important characters have to be more one-sided to keep the plot uncluttered, but sometimes the one-dimensionality jars, as with Oliver. Rosalind’s vibrancy would overshadow any other character, for to produce an Othello opposite her would create a conflict that this greatest of comedies does not need.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Bevington

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