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As you like it

  1. List the “town” characters in the play, enumerate their attributes, and discuss how they reflect town life. Use the same format for the “country” characters.

2. There are four pairs of lovers in the play. Characterize each couple and discuss the concept of love that they represent.

3. Give several examples showing how Shakespeare uses language to indicate class differences among the characters.

4. There are many words in the play that have changed in their meanings since Shakespeare’s time. Make a list of those significant words that are germane to a thorough understanding the play. Discuss how only a present-day meaning of the words can bring about a misunderstanding of the play.

5. What purpose does Rosalind’s disguise serve in the play?

6. Discuss the advantages of “town life” over that of “country life.” Reverse the situation. How does Shakespeare resolve this debate?

7. Of different types of love shown in the play, which does Shakespeare seem to favor? In which characters does this evince itself and to what extent?

8. Discuss the various types of humor in the play. Compare or contrast the wit of Touchstone with that of Jaques; with Corin; and with Rosalind.

9. The Forest of Arden has been said to be, in actuality, the Forest of the Ardennes on the Meuse River in Europe. Yet, there is a Forest of Arden in England. Where do you think it is located? Why?

10. How do the characters reflect the time in which Shakespeare wrote?


Here’s some other topics:

1. As You Like It is full of characters pretending to be someone other than themselves. To what degree are the characters aware that they are role-playing? Does their acting have serious consequences, or is it merely a game?

2. Like Rosalind, both Touchstone and Jaques possess an ability to see things that the other characters do not. They are critics, but their criticism differs greatly from Rosalind’s. How is this so? To what effect do these different criticisms lead?

3. In a play that ends with the formation and celebration of a community, we may be struck by Jaques’s decision not to return to court. What does his refusal suggest about his character? What effect does it have on the play’s ending? Does it cast a shadow over an otherwise happy ending, or is it inconsequential?

4. As You Like It explores the possibility of both homosexual and heterosexual attraction. Does the play present one as the antithesis of the other, or does it suggest a more complex relationship between the two? What, in the end, does the play have to say about these different forms of love?

5. What does Phoebe represent? Why does Rosalind react so negatively toward her?

6. What is the significance of Duke Frederick’s unexpected and very sudden change in Act V? Discuss this episode in relation to other transformations in the play. What does As You Like It suggest about the malleability of the human experience?


Act I
1. Discuss the concepts of fortune and nature as they apply to Orlando and Oliver.

2. Compare and contrast the relationship of Oliver and Orlando with that of Rosalind and Celia.

3. Explore the ways that Shakespeare uses witty wordplay based on “sport” and “wrestling” analogies to reveal his characters’ views on the subject of love.

4. Compare the impressions we get of court life and country life in the first act.

Act II
1. Discuss the ways in which Shakespeare reveals that life in the Forest of Arden, while in many ways an idealized existence, also has its hardships.

2. Explore the many images of the natural world in the second act.

3. Compare and contrast the many sides of Jaques’ character revealed in the scenes in which he is referred to or appears.

4. Discuss the concept of loyalty as it applies to Orlando and Adam in the second act, and the ways in which it defines their characters.

1. Compare and contrast the attitudes toward love expressed by Orlando, Touchstone, Jaques, and Silvius in the third act.

2. Compare and contrast the attitudes of Corin and Touchstone toward country life and city life in Act III, Scene 2.

3. Explore the ways that Rosalind’s Ganymede disguise affects her behavior in this act.

4. Discuss the ways in which the developments in the third act foreshadow further comic complications.

Act IV
1. Examine the ways that Rosalind tests Orlando’s love for her in Act IV Scene 1.

2. Explore the ways in which what we have already learned about Orlando foreshadows his courageous actions in saving his brother’s life.

3. Discuss the ways that Rosalind’s Ganymede disguise proves an advantage and a disadvantage in Act IV, Scenes 1 and 3.

4. Contrast the changing roles of Celia and Oliver in the fourth act with their characterizations earlier in the play.

Act V
1. Compare and contrast the realistically drawn rural characters Corin, William, and Audrey to Silvius and Phebe, who are many ways the conventional “poetic shepherds” of pastoral romance.

2. Explore the ways that Touchstone’s behavior differs when he is in the company of “city” and “country” characters.

3. Discuss the role of Jaques in the play and the reasons that may underlie his decision to remain in the forest.

4. Explain the reasons why Duke Senior, after praising the pastoral life, might want to return to the court.


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