>Immediately the audience learns that despite it being against their fathers will, and despite Orlando being deserving of it, Oliver deprives him of his right to be a gentleman “mines my gentility with my education” to the extent that even Oliver’s “horses are bred better. This comparison reveals the brutality of his brother, who lives in an urban-town setting, thus highlighting his greed for power along with the depth Of the anger and new he feels towards Orlando.
Shakespeare has entwined three of the deadly sins: greed, anger and envy in his play, primarily in the first act, not only because the deadly sins are conventionally used in dramatic comedy but also because they widely reflect the corruption of society. In comedy we often see society’s customs exposed as foolish, and thus corrupt. An example f this is the idea of inheritance. It is made obvious that Orlando is the more deserving brother to gain his father’s inheritance, as even Oliver admits he is “full of noble devise”.
However Oliver, who unintentionally reflects himself as “an envious emulator of every man’s good parts” when attempting to describe Orlando to Charles, has dangerously inherited power despite this. Society customs effect everybody. This is not problematic if the outcome is beneficial, however if the custom is negative an individual alone is not affected but a society as a whole. When the sibling rivalry between the Dukes lead to the encashment of Duke Senior and the new ruling of Duke Frederick, everyone he now rules over in court suffers from his moody and suspicious nature “Thou art thy father’s daughter, there’s enough. Those who serve him fear him rather than love him. It is apparent that such customs as ruling and leadership are unfair, as Frederick has not proven fit for such a title as ‘Duke’. The unfairness seen here reflects the corruption of society. The character of Touchstone, regardless of the fact he is a ‘fool’, has ironically been constructed by Shakespeare to outwit the majority of characters and much of is speech can be seen as surprisingly sensible. Many of the audience are accustomed to the ways of society and therefore find difficulty in noticing or identifying issues with it.
Touchstone is often used to manipulate the audience into questioning such traits. This is seen when he raises the awareness that “fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly”, insinuating that although he is a fool- meaning that he is employed to expand his speech to that of a sarcastic and mocking nature- he is also restricted and therefore lacks freedom of speech also, “Speak no more of him”. Those in the audience deemed unimportant in society would have faced severe punishments for speaking out of turn, like Touchstone who is threatened by Roseland ‘You’ll be whipped for taxation” when he goes too far in offence to her father.
The lack of freedom in speech highlights the inequalities between the classes in society, as only those deemed important could speak their mind. Therefore, as it is so unequal and lacks freedom, it can be argued that society is court opt. However, despite his criticisms of society over the duration of the play Touchstone is often seen defending court life, including hen he first enters the Forest of Arden and states “at home I was in a better place”.
This suggests that society may not be as entirely corrupt as first thought, otherwise Touchstone, who has consistently held truth in his words, would find no difficulty in preferring the Forest of Arden. It is also apparent that society is not completely corrupt, otherwise it is unlikely it would be possible for Roseland and Orlando to meet in town yet experience the genuine love they feel towards each other in Act 1 , “love him”. Love itself if not at all associated with negativity or corruption and as many individuals in society fall in love it would be unfair to say that all aspects of society are corrupt.
Nature in ‘As You Like It’ is seen primarily through the location Of the Forest of Arden. Nature is often associated with positivist, including goodness and wisdom “woods more free from peril”. Shakespearean play has largely conformed to this association. Indirectly, Shakespeare has compared the Forest of Arden to the Garden of Eden. Not only are these two natural, rural locations related through the fact that they share a similar sound, but they are both based on fantasy and mythology, containing creatures and lands of wide, unlikely versatility: from a “palm-tree” to an “oak” tree, and a “deer” to a “lioness”.
In addition to this, both the Forest of Arden and the Garden of Eden hold religious references, such as when Shakespeare entwines ‘the penalty of Adam” in Duke Senior’s first main speech. Shakespeare has used the biblical knowledge of the Elizabethan audience to reflect the goodness of the Forest of Arden knowing that people would associate it with the goodness of the Garden of Eden, and thus goodness is found in nature through these references. A central idea used by Shakespeare in his dramatic comedy ‘As You Like It’ is that of Fays ‘Green
World’. Notably, the ‘Green World’ consists of a natural, rural environment where time is forgotten due to the combination of the absence of clocks, and the merging of mythology and reality. Through this, those in the Forest of Arden are theoretically able to enjoy a sense of freedom: the freedom to no longer have to adhere to the expectations of society such as that of status as there is no hierarchy in the forest “free of public haunt”, the freedom of speech, which in urban society was extremely limited, and the freedom from worry.
Due to the absence of surrounding influences such as that of law, the redeem in Arden permits individuals to form opinions for themselves and allows them to expand their capacity of thoughts because there are no longer boundaries or restrictions to this in the forest, and thus wisdom is increased through nature. An example of this can be seen through the character of Duke Senior who has spent a lengthy duration in the forest. This becomes apparent when he states that there is “goodness in everything’.
It is clear that the positive influence of his natural surroundings has enabled him to forget the weight of the heavy negativity in society and he focuses instead on the oddness of the world. It is nature that has inspired him to do this, showing that nature holds much goodness and increases wisdom dramatically. Previously in Act 1 it was suggested that an education is required in order to hold the goodness of a gentleman. Oliver shows signs of confusion about how his brother possesses such a trait despite his poor education “never schooled”.
It is a common expectation that teaching and schooling are required to gain an education. Duke Senior however, offers an alternative interpretation in Act 2 when he makes it clear that the Forest of Arden revised a spiritual education and emphasizes that people do not need the formality of urban schooling to be ‘good’: “books in the running brooks” People such as Oliver and Duke Frederick, who have both been educated in urban society and yet been made by Shakespeare to be the villains of the play show that education does not necessarily increase the ‘goodness’ of an individual.
Characters introduced in Arden such as the shepherds however, who have not been formally educated and yet are extremely good natured, emphasize the goodness of rural society and nature. The good nature of the shepherds s seen first when Silvia expresses his love towards Phoebe “love so heartily” and remains kind despite the fact the love is unrequited. This is seen secondly when Coring wishes “peace” to the newcomers “to you, gentle sir, and to you all. ” This suggests that perhaps Shakespeare, bred in a semi-rural environment, may be indicating this as a personal belief.
Imperfections in nature are highlighted when Duke Senior speaks of the death of the deer which “from the hunters aim had eaten a hurt”, and the negative “icy fang’ of winter, which connotes that nature is not entirely good. Also despite being in Arden, a timeless place with no hierarchy, Touchstone brings both of these elements into the forest when Jacques speaks of his conversation with him “It is ten o’clock” and when he informs the shepherds that he and his company are their “betters”.
Overall I believe that Shakespeare does wish to portray nature with a larger amount of wisdom and goodness and less corruption then society. He does this by using various techniques including structure, language and character influences. He deliberately focuses Act 1 entirely on town life in socio and Act 2 primarily on the rural, natural setting of the Forest of Arden.
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