As You Like You

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William Shakespeare’s As You Like It

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This passage, quoted from the play, was already very cliché during the time Shakespeare wrote this line, but it basically sums up As You Like It, a comedic drama in which play-acting and fantasy are the names of the game. As You Like It is a play written by William Shakespeare, the most influential writer in all of English Literature, during the end of the 15th century. In the play, a girl runs away from her wicked uncle and ends up in the Forest of Arden, where she traipses around disguised as a saucy young boy. When she bumps into the love of her life in the middle of the forest, she convinces him to take part in an imaginary courtship that ends in marriage. Shakespeare wrote As You Like It to show the different aspects of our human nature—gender, adaptability of the human experience, and love.

As You Like It features Rosalind, a cross-dressing protagonist, whose disguise allows Shakespeare to explore the flexibility of gender. When Rosalind flees to the forest, she disguises herself as a man named “Ganymede,” challenging traditional ideas regarding the gender difference. As we look at the olden period, male actors play the role of “Rosalind” because women were not allowed to act on Shakespeare’s public stage, therefore making it even more complicated. As You Like It clearly shows that gender roles can be imitated and portrayed—in theatre and even in real life.

As You Like it also shows the adaptability of the human experience, which could be seen in various characters in the story. The most dramatic change was Rosalind, who assumes the character of Ganymede. She demonstrates how vulnerable to change men and woman truly are. Phoebe was another character in the story that changed during the course of the story. Her affections to Ganymede quickly dissipated, and she ended up with the once despised Silvius. Oliver also had an instantaneous change...
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