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AS YOU LIKE IT                   

 By William Shakespeare

Comment briefly on the character of Duke  Fredrick.

Duke Fredrick is the villain of the comedy As You Like It. At the beginning of the play, he appears to be a tyrant : greedy for fame and power. He is moody and suspicious. He wants fame and is envious of the popularity of others. He considers people as obstacles in the way of his wining the affection of his subjects. So, he has banished his elder brother Duke Senior to the Forest of Arden and usurped the throne. 

Duke Fredrick is a tyrant who rules by fear – the principle underlying all despotism. However, the cruelty of his actions is mitigated in a few cases. In the beginning, he dissuades Orlando from fighting with the professional wrestler and minimises the risk to Orlando by permitting him ‘ but one fall’. He treats Oliver with patience by giving him time of one year to find Orlando.

Duke Fredrick’s treatment towards Rosalind is equally tyrannical. Having practically requested Rosalind to stay at the court after her father’s banishment and to give company to Celia – he suddenly orders her to leave the dukedom. His reason for banishing her is that she is the daughter of a trailor. He doesn’t listen to Celia, own daughter, when she pleads for Rosalind. He tries to prejudice Celia against her cousin. He banishes Rosalind even though all the evidence shows that she has given him all possible respect. His own daughter calls him a man of harsh and envious mind.

Towards the close of play, Duke Fredrick who has actually come to the Forest of Arden with a large force to stay his brother, comes across a hermit who transforms him entirely. He decides to renounce the worldly life and to spend the rest of his life in the forest as a hermit. Duke Fredrick’s sudden conversion hints at the existence of some nobility within him which has been hitherto suppressed by his ambition, greed and love for popularity. 

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