As You Like It

As You Like It is a play by William Shakespeare, which belongs to once popular genre of a pastoral comedy and was based upon a prose romance Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge. The plot describes the adventures of main heroine Rosalind, who, being oppressed by her uncle, tries to find safety in the Forest of Arden, but eventually finds love.

Scholars have never agreed unanimously on the artistic value of the play, some considering it to be less important than other works by Shakespeare and some claiming it to be of great merit. In any case, the comedy is one of the most famous and often quoted works of Shakespeare, as it contains his most famous monologue: “All the world’s a stage// And all the men and women merely players; // They have their exits and their entrances, // And one man in his time plays many parts.”

The key theme of any pastoral comedy is love in a rural setting. But William Shakespeare does not only exploit the genre, but develops it to contrast and contrapose the genuine love of Rosalind and the sentimentalized superficial feelings of Orlando, as well as to focus on social issues, such as the problems of injustice and anti-social behavior, the foolishness of certain etiquette norms and the power of optimism and real deep feelings. The heroes of the play earn the real value of friendship and trust and together find a way out of the difficult situation.

In this way the play with typical characters in conventional situations (the improbable events that made the urban courtiers wander to find peace and freedom in a woodland setting) is actually an attempt to focus upon serious issues using a light and entertaining genre.