Plot in As You Like It

Plot Examples in As You Like It:

Act I - Act I, Scene 1 1

"My brother Jaques he keeps at school..."   (Act I - Act I, Scene 1)

For those that know this play, Orlando referring to “Jaques” as his brother may at first be confusing. However, Orlando is speaking of his brother Jaques de Boys rather than Jaques the fool who has a more substantive role in the play.

"No; when Nature hath made a fair creature, may she not by Fortune fall into the fire?..."   (Act I - Act I, Scene 2)

Rosalind and Celia take opposite sides in a debate about the relationship between Nature and Fortune. Rosalind sees the two forces as acting independently: Nature makes humans fair or “ill-favouredly,” and Fortune treats them all with random abandon. Celia claims, however, that Fortune can be an equalizing force, bringing ill events to those blessed by Nature. The ups and downs of fate are an important thematic thread in the play. Different characters begin in low or high states. As the play progresses, those states shift.

"Would he not be a comfort to our travel? ..."   (Act I - Act I, Scene 3)

After Rosalind decides to disguise herself as a man in order to protect herself and her cousin in the woods, the two women decide to take Touchstone with them. This decision raises the question as to whether Rosalind still needs to dress up like a man.

"O, what a world is this, when what is comely Envenoms him that bears it! ..."   (Act II - Act II, Scene 3)

On the level of plot, Adam laments that Orlando’s successes are turned against him. His virtuousness and his wrestling victory are sources of envy for Oliver, who in turn seeks to murder Orlando. On a deeper level, it is Orlando’s pride that may prevent him from stepping forth into the places of greatest potential character growth.

"Alas, poor shepherd! searching of thy wound, I have by hard adventure found mine own...."   (Act II - Act II, Scene 4)

Notice that Rosalind forgets her all-consuming love for Orlando until she watches the shepherd rhapsodize about his love object. This paints Rosalind’s love as more of a pose of desire than real desire. Contemporary philosopher Rene Girard argues that this phenomenon is a type of mimetic desire, the process by which a person influences the desires of another so that the person in love is only imitating the desire of another person in love.

"you were better speak first..."   (Act IV - Act IV, Scene 1)

In this scene, Rosalind teaches Orlando how to woo her. While his impulse is to kiss her first, she instructs him to first woo her with “speech.” Remember the Orlando was denied a courtly education by his older brother Oliver. In this way, Rosalind makes him a worthy lover by training him how to act like one.

"Good day, and happiness, dear Rosalind! ..."   (Act IV - Act IV, Scene 1)

Remember that Rosalind told Orlando within her disguise as Ganymede that she would pose as his love object. When Orlando greets Rosalind he addresses her by her name but he does not yet know that she is the actual Rosalind.

"Well then, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a man. ..."   (Act IV - Act IV, Scene 3)

While Oliver takes to calling “Ganymede” Rosalind, it is unclear whether or not he actually realizes that this is Rosalind and not a man. However, his insistence that “Ganymede’s” fainting was real and not “counterfeiting” suggests that he does know who she is. If nothing else, Oliver expresses more suspicion than his brother.

"I have left you commands...."   (Act V - Act V, Scene 2)

This is another instance in which Rosalind writes the other character’s roles. Throughout the play, we have seen Rosalind’s ability to orchestrate and control the outcomes of her desires from her place on the boundary. With this final “command” Rosalind will bring about the comedic ending of the play.

"Ay, and greater wonders than that. ..."   (Act V - Act V, Scene 2)

Orlando’s claim that his brother told him “greater wonders” than “Ganymede’s” counterfeiting suggests that Oliver revealed Rosalind’s identity to Orlando. This could signify a subtle shift in power in which Orlando is now playing along with Rosalind rather than being fooled by her.

"And you, fair sister. ..."   (Act V - Act V, Scene 2)

Oliver calls Rosalind “fair sister” while she is still in her disguise as Ganymede. This suggests that Oliver knows Rosalind’s true identity and is the only character thus far who sees through her disguise.

"Neither call the giddiness of it in question, the poverty of her, the small acquaintance, my sudden wooing, nor her sudden consenting; but say with me, I love Aliena;..."   (Act V - Act V, Scene 2)

Notice that Oliver lists all of the things that are wrong with Celia in telling Orlando to not mention her faults. This is the first instance in which the audience is told that Oliver is in love with Celia. Though most of the play has mocked love at first sight, it ends with this love at first sight relationship between Celia and Oliver.

"[Exeunt ROSALIND and CELIA.] ..."   (Act V - Act V, Scene 4)

One reason for Rosalind’s exit here addresses the practicalities of the play’s production. The actor or actress performing as Rosalind would have needed time to go backstage and change costumes. This necessity accounts for the length of Touchstone’s jovial banter in the following lines.