2nd semester previous year question from As You Like It

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As You Like It as a pastoral comedy

pastoral refers to a literary work dealing with shepherds and rustic life. It presents an idealized rather than realistic view of rustic life. As the university of Victoria explains it, the features of pastorals are country life, a comparison to city life, shepherds, living close to nature, simple happiness, contentment, plentiful fruits of nature. As You Like It contains these features on several levels.

First, the majority of the play takes place in Arden Forest with shepherds as some of the minor characters – who none the less guide plot development and character development in several major characters and with exiles living in abundance off the goodness of the fruit of the land, all of whom have a simple happiness that brings good and contentment. Second, pastoral features apply to Rosalind and Celia who settle in a pastoral setting and find their opportunities expanded in a way that was never possible, despite their privileges, at court. This expansion of opportunity is true for all the court characters who come to Arden’s pastoral life from Duke Fredrick to Oliver to Touchstone to Orlando. Third, Duke Senior discovers the joys of a simple life in the wood after his brother banished him there. Oliver has as epiphany and chooses to leave the court and live with Celia in Arden, herding sheep. These examples demonstrate the theme of nature as a healing and nurturing force.

In As You Like It, the pastoral is juxtaposed with insincerity and dubious dealings of country life. The FOREST OF ARDEN represents a refuge from the city. Altogether Arden is a hard place to live in, at least it is an honest place. There are also a lot of shepherds on this play and if anything says pastoral, it is Shepherds. Shepherds represent honest work in nature, free of conniving and greed. The Forest of Arden provides a place where societal norms can be tested. Everything from gender bending love to traditional loyalty is at play here.

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