Act II - Act II, Scene 1

ACT II.

SCENE I. The Forest of Arden.

[Enter DUKE Senior, AMIENS, and other LORDS, in the dress of
foresters.]

DUKE SENIOR.
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,--
The seasons' difference: as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say,
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it.

AMIENS.
Happy is your grace,
That can translate the stubbornness of fortune
Into so quiet and so sweet a style.

DUKE SENIOR.
Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,
Being native burghers of this desert city,
Should, in their own confines, with forked heads
Have their round haunches gor'd.

FIRST LORD.
Indeed, my lord,
The melancholy Jaques grieves at that;
And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.
To-day my lord of Amiens and myself
Did steal behind him as he lay along
Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood:
To the which place a poor sequester'd stag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt,
Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans,
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting; and the big round tears
Cours'd one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase: and thus the hairy fool,
Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with tears.

DUKE SENIOR.
But what said Jaques?
Did he not moralize this spectacle?

FIRST LORD.
O, yes, into a thousand similes.
First, for his weeping into the needless stream;
'Poor deer,' quoth he 'thou mak'st a testament
As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more
To that which had too much:' then, being there alone,
Left and abandoned of his velvet friends;
''Tis right'; quoth he; 'thus misery doth part
The flux of company:' anon, a careless herd,
Full of the pasture, jumps along by him
And never stays to greet him; 'Ay,' quoth Jaques,
'Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens;
'Tis just the fashion; wherefore do you look
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?'
Thus most invectively he pierceth through
The body of the country, city, court,
Yea, and of this our life: swearing that we
Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse,
To fright the animals, and to kill them up
In their assign'd and native dwelling-place.

DUKE SENIOR.
And did you leave him in this contemplation?

SECOND LORD.
We did, my lord, weeping and commenting
Upon the sobbing deer.

DUKE SENIOR.
Show me the place:
I love to cope him in these sullen fits,
For then he's full of matter.

FIRST LORD.
I'll bring you to him straight.

[Exeunt.]

Footnotes

  1. These reported words of Jaques solidify his status as a steward of the natural world. Jaques takes it upon himself to represent the animals from the humans, whom he characterizes as “usurpers, tyrants.” Jaques thus serves as an archetypal Trickster—much as Touchstone does—occupying a space between the split realms of man and nature. While Jaques is himself a man, he identifies more closely with the law of the woods.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. From the first appearance of Jaques, it is clear that he is different from his companions, the other men in Duke Senior’s cohort. Much of the scene is devoted to the telling of an encounter between Jaques and a dead deer. One lord teases Jaques for his grief, calling him “the hairy fool.” Jaques has a connection to the natural world that his companions cannot comprehend. It can be said that Jaques represents the mythological archetype of the Wild Man, a hairy man with a deep, intuitive connection with nature. It is this connection that accounts for the depth of his grief.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. From the perspective of Amiens, Duke Senior’s speech serves as an attempt to make the best of the sorrows of his exile. Thus far in the play, it is not clear whether Duke Senior genuinely relishes his new life in the country or whether he is putting on a cheerful mask for his men in the face of his misfortunes.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Shakespeare carefully uses rhyme and alliteration to convey Duke Senior’s point about country living. The Duke identifies the natural world as a tremendous source of wisdom, drawing up fanciful images of “tongues,” “books,” and “sermons” for illustration.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. This allusion to “the penalty of Adam” serves to draw a metaphor between the Forest of Arden and the Garden of Eden. Adam’s penalty was his expulsion from Eden as a result of his decision to eat the fruit of knowledge. Duke Senior thus sees his own exile as a return to Paradise from the corrupted state of the “envious court.” The metaphor relates closely to theme of country versus court living. Duke Senior tends to moralize country and court, viewing the former as good and the latter as wicked.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. To “moralize a spectacle” is to make meaning out of an seemingly meaningless event. The lords mock Jacques for making meaning out of the deer’s death with “a thousand similes.” From their standpoint, the event is not a cause for grief. Though they cannot see it, the Lords are creating their own “thousand similes” to make sense of Jaques’ melancholic response. In this way, Jaques becomes a mirror that reveals the Lords’ characters and one of the main themes of the play: all men “moralize” and make meaning out of meaningless events based on their perspective–we’re all writing the world as we experience it.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Jaques uses cosmopolitan and monetary language to refer to the deer and their fallen comrade: the fleeing deer are “citizens” who follow the “fashion” to look upon the dead; the fallen deer is “bankrupt.” Notice that though this account of his language comes from the Lords, it is filtered through their perspective. This either signals that the Lords have shaped his woe into their own frame of reference, the moral landscape of the city, or that Jaques had to explain his woe using their frame of reference. Jaques’ language, imagined or real, reveals the Lords’ distance from the green world.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. “Melancholy” is a term that comes from galenic medical philosophy, the dominant medical knowledge system in the medieval era. In this medical theory, one’s mood, health, and outlook on life were caused by an imbalance within the “humors,” bodily fluids black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. Melancholy was thought to be caused by an abundance of “black bile” the humor that caused dark thoughts, depression, and negativity.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. “Needless stream” means that the stream does not need Jaques’ tears. Using this metaphor, the First Lord mocks Jaques’ reaction to the deer’s death. However, it also demonstrates the First Lord’s serious misreading of Jaques’ melancholy. Jaques weeps for the deer because he is connected to the natural world and its beings while the Lords are disconnected from nature because they maintain an urban mindset.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. The word “worldling,” a cosmopolitan or sophisticated person, furthers the Duke’s personification the deer as a member of polite society. In this way, the Duke and his Lords project the cityscape onto the green world. They read the beings and events of the green world through their social structures and moral code. This demonstrates that the Duke and his Lords are out of touch with the woods and nature. Though they live in the green world, they are not part of it.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. A burgher is a citizen of a town, typically someone who is part of the aristocracy. Notice here that Duke Senior uses this classed term to apply to venison, the deer that live in the Forest of Arden. This use of the term signifies an upset in the social order within the forest.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. Notice that Act II moves out of the city into the green world, the Forest of Arden. The green world is a literary trope in Shakespearean drama in which the main characters escape the city and their problems within the city to a natural setting, generally a forest or the countryside. This location is loosely structured and full of fantastic creatures. It is a place in which the characters can challenge the social order, explore their romantic relationships, and solve the main conflict that emerged in the city at the beginning of the play. The green world is therefore a place of exploration in which the rules that organize civil society are in flux.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. The Duke is trying to comfort himself after being banished to the Forest of Arden by his villainous brother. Instead of dwelling on his misfortune, he considers the perks of being banished—such as being free from society, or the "public haunt."

    — Sarah St. Albin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. Note the alliteration of "W" sounds mimicking the sound and biting cold of the winter's wind. 

    — William Delaney
  15. Two meanings: 

    1)  The covering of a young deer's antlers are velvet-like in texture.

    1. An allusion to the expensive fabric worn by the wealthy.
    — Jamie Wheeler
  16. "Jaques" is a stock character with which Elizabethan audiences would have   been familiar. Jaques was a solitary, melancholy man whose black thoughts were thought to be due to an abundance of black bile, an imbalance of the humours (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm) that affected one's moods.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  17. Innocent.  Often, animals have a dappled, or spotted coat, when they are young.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  18. Toads were thought to be poisonous and to have in their heads a jewel, known as the "toadstone."

    — Jamie Wheeler
  19. The "penalty of Adam" was his expulsion, with Eve, from the Garden of Eden for eating of the forbidden fruit.  A curse was also placed upon the Earth, and is often associated with the end of the temperate climate that the Garden enjoyed.

    — Jamie Wheeler