As You Like It
By: William Shakespeare
This wisely funny comedy, which contains some of Shakespeare’s loveliest poetry, contrasts a court’s world of envy and rivalry with a forest’s world of compassion and harmony. In the Forest of Arden, the banished young heroine, Rosalind, disguised as a gentleman farmer, encounters an extraordinary assemblage of characters, including a fool, a malcontent traveler, her own banished father, and the banished young man she loves.
I already told a few people in passing but I seem to not be as into Shakespeare’s comedies compared to his tragedies and histories. I guess it’s partly because of some of the problematic elements of the story that emerges, and because a lot of the jokes go over my head. I noticed that watching some productions have helped me understand the humour in the presentation of some of them, but as I also have a number of comedies left to read, I’m slowly beginning to get a hang of them 😛
So up next in my Shakespeare reading list was As You Like It 🙂 I admit, I was sort of prompted to pick this play up next as I do want to watch the Globe production at some point:
So, I quite liked the play (hah, see what I did there?). It was easy to slip into the story and understand the situation that Rosalind, Celia, and Orlando were in early in the play and what was going on. Kind of hilarious how everyone ends up in the Forest of Arden, really, but I guess that’s part of the humour. I read quite a bit of commentary going into this play about how Shakespeare was grieving over the sudden death of Christopher Marlowe (tag) and a lot of references to his death and his work shows up in this play, such as plot changes that emerge out of the blue (which happens quite a bit. Why does so-and-so change his mind? He just does!). It should be weird, but I just went with it and just really enjoyed reading the play from start to finish.
Loved the characters, not one of them drew my ire. Celia and Rosalind are awesome, I love their dialogue and how they have each other’s back. Orlando is absolutely adorable, quite the dork with his love for Rosalind (writing poetry about his love Rosalind and pinning them to every tree in the forest? Adorable, but also perhaps a wee bit cringe-worthy. Still adorable though). Jacques was interesting with his melancholy, but not quite to the level of Much Ado About Nothing (review)’s Don John and his whole “I’m sad because I am, and therefore I’m a villain” level (for the record, Jacques is not the villain, his talk of melancholy just reminded me of Don John). Oliver was a bit of a douchebag at the start with the way he treated Orlando, but he redeemed himself at the end.
Oh, and Touchstone’s speech about the seven lies cracked me up immensely. So detailed!
Overall, I really enjoyed reading As You Like It! It’s not as insane as some of the other plays (though there were some hilarious love squares (?) happening) or rife with miscommunication and accusations, it does feel idyllic in its pastural setting, but nonetheless is was really pleasant and happy and comedic as can be. I’m looking forward to picking up the 2009 Globe production at some point because it looks fantastic.