Act II - Act II, Scene 3


[Enter ORLANDO and ADAM, meeting.]

Who's there?

What, my young master?--O my gentle master!
O my sweet master! O you memory
Of old Sir Rowland! why, what make you here?
Why are you virtuous? why do people love you?
And wherefore are you gentle, strong, and valiant?
Why would you be so fond to overcome
The bonny prizer of the humorous duke?
Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.
Know you not, master, to some kind of men
Their graces serve them but as enemies?
No more do yours; your virtues, gentle master,
Are sanctified and holy traitors to you.
O, what a world is this, when what is comely
Envenoms him that bears it!

Why, what's the matter?

O unhappy youth,
Come not within these doors; within this roof
The enemy of all your graces lives:
Your brother,--no, no brother; yet the son--
Yet not the son; I will not call him son--
Of him I was about to call his father,--
Hath heard your praises; and this night he means
To burn the lodging where you use to lie,
And you within it: if he fail of that,
He will have other means to cut you off;
I overheard him and his practices.
This is no place; this house is but a butchery:
Abhor it, fear it, do not enter it.

Why, whither, Adam, wouldst thou have me go?

No matter whither, so you come not here.

What, wouldst thou have me go and beg my food?
Or with a base and boisterous sword enforce
A thievish living on the common road?
This I must do, or know not what to do:
Yet this I will not do, do how I can:
I rather will subject me to the malice
Of a diverted blood and bloody brother.

But do not so. I have five hundred crowns,
The thrifty hire I sav'd under your father,
Which I did store to be my foster-nurse,
When service should in my old limbs lie lame,
And unregarded age in corners thrown;
Take that: and He that doth the ravens feed,
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,
Be comfort to my age! Here is the gold;
All this I give you. Let me be your servant;
Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty:
For in my youth I never did apply
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood;
Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo
The means of weakness and debility;
Therefore my age is as a lusty winter,
Frosty, but kindly: let me go with you;
I'll do the service of a younger man
In all your business and necessities.

O good old man; how well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world,
When service sweat for duty, not for meed!
Thou art not for the fashion of these times,
Where none will sweat but for promotion;
And having that, do choke their service up
Even with the having: it is not so with thee.
But, poor old man, thou prun'st a rotten tree,
That cannot so much as a blossom yield
In lieu of all thy pains and husbandry:
But come thy ways, we'll go along together;
And ere we have thy youthful wages spent
We'll light upon some settled low content.

Master, go on; and I will follow thee
To the last gasp, with truth and loyalty.--
From seventeen years till now almost fourscore
Here lived I, but now live here no more.
At seventeen years many their fortunes seek;
But at fourscore it is too late a week:
Yet fortune cannot recompense me better
Than to die well and not my master's debtor.



  1. Adam is motivated by a continued desire to serve Sir Rowland, and not by the more selfish urges that motivate some of the other characters in the play. For Adam, that service takes the form of loyal assistance to Orlando, whom he views as the rightful heir to Rowland.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Adam introduces the idea of inheritance within these lines, specifically questioning what each son inherits from his father. While Oliver inherits the wealth and title, Orlando inherits his father’s character. Adam identifies this inheritance as making Orlando more his father’s son than Oliver, who only inherits Sir Rowland’s money.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The image of “diverted blood” is a subtle metaphor that operates on several levels. “Diverted blood” refers to Oliver, also called the “bloody brother” here. The word “diverted” suggests that the proper du Boys bloodline has been diverted, wrongly altered to put Oliver in a place of power. “Diverted blood” also suggests bloodshed, blood “diverted” from its normal course. The accompanying image of Oliver as “bloody brother” hints at a situation in which he is bloodied by violence.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Adam has a hard time identifying Oliver through his familial connections because Oliver’s actions break these bonds. In a class system organized by primogeniture, actions should not matter. One’s identification comes from one’s lineage regardless of action or merit. Adam’s attention to Oliver’s cruelty demonstrates disorder in this system: as a servant he should be less concerned with Oliver’s actions and have more reverence for his title.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. The metaphor of being “cut… off” works on several levels here. Oliver means to cut Orlando off from the du Boys family, and thus from his inheritance and title. Oliver also means to literally and violently cut Orlando off, reiterated in the metaphor of “this house [as] but a butchery.”

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. 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.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. “Grace” invokes a double meaning here. It both signifies “grace” as in the praise he receives for his victory and “grace” meaning elevated class and the social refinement that comes with it. Here, Adam claims that Orlando’s “graces” work against him. Metaphorically, Adam usurps his class because he receives praise meant for a nobleman; he owns “graces” that he should not have and threatens his brother’s status. Thus, these “graces” do not help him achieve better social standing, but rather threaten his life.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Adam is proud to be serving Orlando and working as an old man rather than to be retired and living on the charity of his master.

    — Stephen Holliday
  9. God's caring or even something as small and seemingly insignificant as a sparrow is often cited in the Bible. 

    Here is one example from Luke 12:6-7:

    6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  10. Another name for a wet-nurse, a woman hired to breastfeed and generally be a nanny to someone else's children.

    — Jamie Wheeler