As You Like It
Forest Vs Court
The forest is presented in a more favourable light in that the “goodies”, Duke Senior and his court, reside there. All of the good characters in the court are banished or exiled to the forest at the start of the play. Duke Senior describes the court as “painted pomp…the envious court”. He goes on to say that in the forest the dangers are real but natural and are preferable to those in the court “The …churlish chiding of the winter’s wind… even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say This is no flattery” (Act 2, Scene 1). He suggests the harsh conditions of the forest are preferable to the pomp and false flattery in the court: That at least in the forest, things are honest. This could be compared to the Courtly love between Orlando and Rosalind and the bawdy, primitive but honest love between Touchstone and Audrey. There are also reflections of Robin Hood and his merry men in the lives of Duke Senior and his supporters: “…there they live like the old Robin Hood of England” (Charles; Act 1, Scene 1). This reinforces the positive depiction of the forest as opposed to the negative portrayal of the court. When the evil characters enter the forest they have a sudden change of heart as discussed – suggesting the forest has healing properties. There is therefore a sense of foreboding at the end of the play when the characters are to be restored to the court…we hope that they will bring some of the natural qualities of forest life with them when they return. In this Shakespeare may be suggesting that there needs to be a balance between forest and court; living with nature and using your senses should be balanced with living in an ordered, political world where education and social politeness is necessary. If one is too close to nature they may turn out like Touchstone and Audrey but if they are too political they may become more like Duke Frederick. Duke Senior has struck a happy balance – being educated and gentlemanly having the...
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