Act II - Act II, Scene 4

SCENE IV. The Forest of Arden.

[Enter ROSALIND in boy's clothes, CELIA dressed like a
shepherdess, and TOUCHSTONE.]

O Jupiter! how weary are my spirits!

I care not for my spirits, if my legs were not weary.

I could find in my heart to disgrace my man's apparel,
and to cry like a woman; but I must comfort the weaker vessel, as
doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat;
therefore, courage, good Aliena.

I pray you bear with me; I can go no further.

For my part, I had rather bear with you than bear you:
yet I should bear no cross if I did bear you; for I think you
have no money in your purse.

Well, this is the forest of Arden.

Ay, now am I in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at
home I was in a better place; but travellers must be content.

Ay, be so, good Touchstone.--Look you, who comes here?, a
young man and an old in solemn talk.

[Enter CORIN and SILVIUS.]

That is the way to make her scorn you still.

O Corin, that thou knew'st how I do love her!

I partly guess; for I have lov'd ere now.

No, Corin, being old, thou canst not guess;
Though in thy youth thou wast as true a lover
As ever sigh'd upon a midnight pillow:
But if thy love were ever like to mine,--
As sure I think did never man love so,--
How many actions most ridiculous
Hast thou been drawn to by thy fantasy?

Into a thousand that I have forgotten.

O, thou didst then never love so heartily:
If thou remember'st not the slightest folly
That ever love did make thee run into,
Thou hast not lov'd:
Or if thou hast not sat as I do now,
Wearing thy hearer in thy mistress' praise,
Thou hast not lov'd:
Or if thou hast not broke from company
Abruptly, as my passion now makes me,
Thou hast not lov'd: O Phebe, Phebe, Phebe!

[Exit Silvius.]

Alas, poor shepherd! searching of thy wound,
I have by hard adventure found mine own.

And I mine. I remember, when I was in love, I broke my
sword upon a stone, and bid him take that for coming a-night to
Jane Smile: and I remember the kissing of her batlet, and the
cow's dugs that her pretty chapp'd hands had milk'd: and I
remember the wooing of a peascod instead of her; from whom I took
two cods, and giving her them again, said with weeping tears,
'Wear these for my sake.' We that are true lovers run into
strange capers; but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature
in love mortal in folly.

Thou speak'st wiser than thou art 'ware of.

Nay, I shall ne'er be 'ware of mine own wit till I break my shins
against it.

Jove, Jove! this shepherd's passion
Is much upon my fashion.

And mine: but it grows something stale with me.

I pray you, one of you question yond man
If he for gold will give us any food:
I faint almost to death.

Holla, you clown!

Peace, fool; he's not thy kinsman.

Who calls?

Your betters, sir.

Else are they very wretched.

Peace, I say.--
Good even to you, friend.

And to you, gentle sir, and to you all.

I pr'ythee, shepherd, if that love or gold
Can in this desert place buy entertainment,
Bring us where we may rest ourselves and feed:
Here's a young maid with travel much oppress'd,
And faints for succour.

Fair sir, I pity her,
And wish, for her sake more than for mine own,
My fortunes were more able to relieve her:
But I am shepherd to another man,
And do not shear the fleeces that I graze:
My master is of churlish disposition,
And little recks to find the way to heaven
By doing deeds of hospitality:
Besides, his cote, his flocks, and bounds of feed,
Are now on sale; and at our sheepcote now,
By reason of his absence, there is nothing
That you will feed on; but what is, come see,
And in my voice most welcome shall you be.

What is he that shall buy his flock and pasture?

That young swain that you saw here but erewhile,
That little cares for buying anything.

I pray thee, if it stand with honesty,
Buy thou the cottage, pasture, and the flock,
And thou shalt have to pay for it of us.

And we will mend thy wages. I like this place,
And willingly could waste my time in it.

Assuredly the thing is to be sold:
Go with me: if you like, upon report,
The soil, the profit, and this kind of life,
I will your very faithful feeder be,
And buy it with your gold right suddenly.



  1. After spinning an account of his past adventures in love, detailing the “strange capers” he found himself in, Touchstone reflects on the passing nature of it all. Through a confounding chiasmus—a repeated phrase that is reversed—Touchstone muses that “all nature in love [is] mortal in folly.” In other words, the natural silliness of love is fleeting, just as everything else in nature is.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. In the tradition of pastoral love poetry, Corin was the archetypal lovesick shepherd. In the work of poet Barnaby Googe—born two decades before Shakespeare—Corin spends his days in the fields, dreaming of his beloved Phillida. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania accuses Oberon of behaving like Corin:

    When thou hast stol’n away from fairy land,/And in the shape of Corin, sat all day/Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love/To amorous Phillida" (2.1.64-68).

    Shakespeare draws on the archetype of Corin to bolster the connection between the pursuit of lovers and the pastoral world.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Corin does not recognize Rosalind, Touchstone, and Celia as nobility because they look “wretched.” As we have seen thus far, external appearance constructs many of these characters’ identities. Just as Rosalind can don male clothing and become a man, so can these three characters take off their noble attire and become peasants. These lines underscore a major theme in this play about identity and perception: identity is constructed outwardly because it must be validated by the society that perceives it.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Corin and Silvius are representative of the pastoral world and its culture. Silvius’ name—drawn from the Latin “silva,” which means forest—highlights this point. The fact that Corin and Silvius are talking about matters of the heart in their opening conversation establishes the forest of Arden as a place where romantic relationships unfold.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. This exchange between Rosalind and Touchstone offers self-conscious commentary on the role of the archetypal Fool in Shakespearean drama. Fools often offer profound and thematically revealing pieces of wisdom to both the characters on stage and the audience. However, they often do it despite themselves; they are unaware of their own wit.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. 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.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Fools represent the Trickster, a type of character that thwarts conventional behavior in order to reveal deeper meanings and challenge social norms. Once they enter the forest, Touchstone becomes “more the fool.” This reinforces a reading of the forest as a Green World in which social boundaries are called into question.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Notice that even though Rosalind’s claims reflect a patriarchal view of women, in which women are weak and men are courageous, she recognizes that both of these abilities exist within her. She is simultaneously the “weaker vessel” and the man who must bring comfort to this “weaker vessel.” This reflects a theme of gender fluidity in the Forest of Arden.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. The “doublet” and the “hose” were male clothing items while a “petticoat” was an underskirt worn by women. In this line, Rosalind uses the doublet and hose as a symbol for a man and the petticoat as a symbol for a woman. She claims here that men have to show themselves courageous to woman in much the same way that she must show herself courageous to the “weaker vessel,” which is her female identity.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Touchstone the jester tells a ridiculous anecdote about being so in love with a milkmaid that he kissed her batlet (a wooden paddle used to beat clothes during washing) and her cow's teats. Touchstone argues, though, that true love is not the ideal we want it to be; "as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly."

    — Sarah, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Shakespeare's source for the play, Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge, was set in the Ardennes forest in northern France, and it is often assumed that Shakespeare's setting is the Ardennes.  Near Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, however, is the forest of Arden, a likelier setting.

    — Stephen Holliday
  12. This phrase comes from English courtship rituals.  "Pea pods" ("peascod") and their husks ("cods") were thought to be gifts of good luck.  These two words ("peascod" or just "cod") were also slang for male genitalia.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  13. A "batlet" was a wooden paddle used to beat clothes when washing them.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  14. Have no concerns about money.  Coins in the Elizabethan era carried the stamp of a cross.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  15. I struck a stone as though it were my rival during my nighttime visits to Jane Stone.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  16. Men at the time wore hose.  "Hose" referred to male attire in general, including breeches and, typically, close-fitting coats.

    — Jamie Wheeler