Shakespeare, As You Like It

Shakespeare, As You Like ItOrder Description
Required Reading:

Shakespeare, As You Like It

On completion of this unit on As You Like It, you should be able to:

1.Evaluate Shakespeare’s portrayal of the “upper” and “lower” classes.
2.Discuss Shakespeare’s view of “romantic love.”
3.Demonstrate knowledge of the “gender issues.”

!!!Respond to all four of the following items with a minimum of 1½ pages of supported (by quotes and incidents) discussion for each item.

1.Critics have categorized certain characters from the play according to their differing views of the utopian Forest of Arden: 1) a negative and cynical (stemming from his idealism) Byronic Romantic (“Wail, for the world’s wrong!”); 2) a Wordsworthian (“positive” and idealistic but rather naive) Romantic who refuses to see the “red in tooth and claw” aspect of Nature, only its purity and beauty; and 3) a Pragmatist/Utilitarian who assesses the situation realistically in terms of “what’s in it for him” and “makes the best of a bad deal” for himself. Identify, by name, the characters in the play who fit the three descriptions, and, using events/specific actions and direct quotations from the play, explain why you believe the character you select fits the description.

2.Citing specific actions or events and direct quotations from the play to support your discussion, explore the Elizabethan belief (favored by the royalty and nobility who helped support Shakespeare’s plays) that “breeding will out,” that people of the nobility or royalty will “stand out” as being superior to those “beneath them” in any environment. Hint: You will find that contrasts and comparisons of Rosalind’s (Ganymede’s) techniques and style in pursuit of the man she desires versus those of Phebe (a country maid) are central to this idea. You might also make some detailed comparisons between the speech and actions of the nobles in the play versus those of the country folk.

Quote to Note
“The fool doth think he is wise; but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” (Touchstone, V, i)

3.In the previous units you have witnessed proof that Shakespeare believed women to be capable of assertive, strong, and wise leadership (even though they had to disguise themselves as males in order to do it). Discuss this idea using specific examples of characters’ actions and direct quotations from the play.

4.Explore evidence of Shakespeare’s sense of humor or “playfulness,” citing particular incidents and examples of action and direct quotations from the play.

Quote to Note
“Men have died … and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” (Rosalind, IV, i)

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