As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Page #: 263
Published in: 2011
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play’s first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works and some finding the play a work of great merit. The play features one of Shakespeare’s most famous and oft-quoted speeches, “All the world’s a stage”, and is the origin of the phrase “too much of a good thing”. The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre.
If I had one word to describe this play, I would say boring. I know that sounds really unfair, but I honestly did not really care for this play. Seeing it performed is actually much better than reading; I would recommend watching the most recent Globe Theater staging online.
In this play, Orlando flees to the forest of Arden after his brother takes all of his late father’s estate. Also fleeing to Arden are Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone. Rosalind and Orlando are in love, but Rosalind diguises herself as a man in Arden for safety reasons. While she is disguised as a man, she befriends Orlando and tries to help him with his pining over Rosalind. Like any good Renaissance play, there’s a triple wedding at the end.
I like Rosalind as a character because she challenges a lot of stereotypical gender roles and facilitates a lot of homoerotic tension in the play. However, I literally hated Touchstone. I despised everything that came out of his mouth. Because of this, I was incredibly bored and frustrated by all the subplots.
While there are some good qualities to this play, I would recommend Shakespeare’s other comedies if that’s what you’re looking for.