As You Like It as a Pastoral Comedy

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Shakespeare‘s As You Like It is based on a work entitled Rosalynde written by Thomas Lodge (Verity 2000 : xiii) The play is often categorized as a pastoral comedy . The term .pastoral. refers to the life of the shepherds or rural folk and their ways of living, manners and customs. However, pastoral poetry does not reflect the realities of country life and that from its beginning it created an imaginary landscape which was actually a projection of the poct‘s feelings and ideas. Hence the word 'pastoral‘ came to be .identified with an ideal space representing innocence, peace, philosophic contemplation. (Singh in Chandra 2000:111) Theocritus‘ Idylls and Virgil‘s Eclogues are two of the great examples of ancient pastoral poetry, which constructed rural life in this way.

During the Renaissance with its revival of the classical poetry, the pastoral as a literary form was practiced by the English poets as was done by the continental poets. So when the Elizabethan poets came to write their pastorals. They had before them a set of conventions and stock character types that inform the genre of the pastoral. No doubt, Sidney and Spenser employed the pastoral in diverse and complex ways in their narratives. But it is also true that they followed the conventions closely. They saw the pastoral as an alternative mode of life. The shepherds who inhabited their rural landscape were metaphors for lovers, scholar poets and aristocrats in exile. Their primary concern is not the real rustics, even introduced, but the courtiers who led a shepherd-like existence. This article makes an attempt to show the note of criticism of the pastoral life in Shakespeare‘s As You Like It . N.P. The conflict between the court and the country runs throughout the play. The pastoral poet argues in favour of rural life as against the court. At the same time he uses the pastoral space as a device for the restoration of the norm, i.e. life as lived in the courts. As You Like It is structured on this...
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