By Charles Matthews

Sunday, March 20, 2011

4. As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, pp. 60-93

As You Like It (The Arden Shakespeare)Act III

Scene I

Back at the court, Oliver gets a thorough going-over from Duke Frederick for his failure to find Orlando. Bring him back dead or alive, the duke orders, within a year or risk banishment. And meanwhile, all property is seized. Oliver protests that he has never loved his brother, to which the duke's reply is "More villain thou."

In the forest, Orlando is wandering around writing verses, hanging them on trees, and carving her name into their trunks. When he goes off in search of more trees, Corin enters with Touchstone, discussing the shepherd's life, which Touchstone says is good except that it's a shepherd's, that he likes it because it's solitary but dislikes it because it's private, that it pleases him because it's in the fields but he finds it tedious because it's not in the court, and so on. Corin replies to his contradictory nonsense with some commonsense wisdom, and they wrangle a while over the relative merits of court and country until Corin gets tired and tries to withdraw from the contest.

Fortunately for him, Rosalind enters, reading Orlando's doggerel, which Touchstone deftly parodies. When she says she found them on a tree, Touchstone observes, "Truly the tree yields bad fruit." Celia follows, reading more verses, and sends Touchstone and Corin away so she can talk to Rosalind about them. She teases Rosalind about their author, whom with "a chain, that you once wore, about his neck." Rosalind blushes at the news, and demands that Celia confirm what she obviously suspects. Celia continues to tease her but finally confirms that it's Orlando, which throws Rosalind into a dither:
Alas the day, what shall I do with my doublet and hose? What did he when thou saw'st him? What said he? How looked he? Wherein went he? What makes he here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he? How parted he with thee? And when shalt thou see him again? Answer me in one word.
When Celia gets Rosalind calmed down, she tells him she saw Orlando "under a tree like a dropped acorn ... stretched along like a wounded knight," but before she can say much more, Orlando enters with Jaques. They obviously don't get along very well. Among other things, Jaques has been reading Orlando's verses "ill-favouredly," and he doesn't like the name Rosalind. "There was no thought of pleasing you when she was christened," Orlando replies acidly. It's the kind of response that Jaques likes, of course, and he changes his mind about parting from Orlando: "Will you sit down with me and we two will rail against our mistress the world and our misery?" But Orlando declines the invitation: "I am weary of you." And when Jaques tells him "I was seeking for a fool when I found you," Orlando retorts, "He is drowned in the brook. Look but in and you shall see him." Astonishingly, Jaques doesn't get the joke and falls right into the trap: "There I shall see mine own figure." It's so unlike Jaques to be so slow-witted, and it evidently stings when Orlando delivers the punchline: "Which I take to be either a fool, or a cipher." They part on ill terms.

Rosalind summons up the courage to approach Orlando in her disguise as Ganymede, and they begin to banter. It goes considerably better than the exchange between Orlando and Jaques, and when Orlando observes that Ganymede's manner of speaking is more sophisticated than he would expect in the country, she is forced to invent "an old religious uncle ... who was in his youth an inland man" who taught her how to speak. He was also ill-fated in love, she says, "and I thank God I am not a woman, to be touched with so many giddy offences as he hath generally taxed their whole sex withal." She knows that there is a man in the forest who has had the misfortune to fall in love with a woman because he goes around the forest carving "Rosalind" into the trees and hanging "odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles." She could cure him of his love-sickness if she met him.

Orlando admits the he is the man, but she professes not to believe him. Her uncle "taught me how to know a man in love; in which cage of rushes I am sure you are not a prisoner." He doesn't have the starved and unkempt look of a lover. He swears that he is, however, so she offers to cure him by pretending to be Rosalind and displaying all the inconstancy of womanhood. She did  it once before, she says: "I drave my suitor from his mad humour of love to a living humour of madness, which was, to forswear the full stream of the world and to live in a nook merely monastic. And thus I cured him." He says he doesn't want to be cured, but finally agrees to go along with her scheme, so she and Celia take him to where they live.

Touchstone enters with the goatherd Audrey, followed by Jaques, who is spying on them and commenting on Touchstone's efforts to woo Audrey with allusions to Ovid's exile among the Goths. Touchstone has arranged for a vicar, Sir Oliver Martext, to marry them. When Sir Oliver arrives, Jaques comes forward and agrees to give Audrey away, but he then objects that they shouldn't "be married under a bush like a beggar" but in a regular church with "a good priest that can tell you what marriage is." Touchstone in an aside confesses that he chose the vicar because "not being well married, it will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife." But he exits with Audrey and Jacques.

Rosalind is upset: Orlando hasn't shown up for his lesson in women's inconstancy. Celia, a bit exasperated with Rosalind's carrying-on, tries to settle her down by either praising or criticizing Orlando, depending on what Rosalind's whim may be. They are interrupted by the entrance of Corin, who tells them that Silvius and Phebe are nearby, and if Rosalind and Celia want to see "a pageant truly play'd / Between the pale complexion of true love / And the red glow of scorn and proud disdain," they should follow him.

They do, and they witness Silvius berating Phebe as worse than the executioner, who at least asks his victim to pardon him before he swings the ax. Phebe replies, "I do frown on thee with all my heart, / And if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee," but she insists that he's lying when he says her "eyes are murderers." They don't even leave a mark on him. Silvius hopes that she will one day "know the wounds invisible / That love's keen arrows make," but she tells him to stay away from her until that day comes.

Rosalind charges into the thick of things and denounces Phebe as no great prize and Silvius as foolishly infatuated with her: "You are a thousand times a properer man / Than she a woman." Phebe should fall "Down on your knees / And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man's love; / For I must tell you friendly in your ear, / Sell when you can, you are not for all markets." Of course, the result is that Phebe instantly falls for Ganymede: "Sweet youth, I pray you chide a year together. / I had rather hear you chide than this man woo." And when Rosalind exits with Celia and Corin, Phebe quotes Christopher Marlowe's "Who ever lov'd that lov'd not at first sight?" But at least it changes her attitude toward Silvius:
Silvius, the time was that I hated thee;
And yet it is not that I bear thee love,
But since that thou canst talk of love so well,
Thy company, which erst was irksome to me,
I will endure; and I'll employ thee too.
But don't expect anything more than that, she warns. Silvius accepts even that as an improvement; "That I shall think it a most plenteous crop / To glean the broken ears after the man / That the main harvest reaps." So when, after enumerating Ganymede's virtues, she decides to "write to him a very taunting letter," Silvius agrees to deliver it to him.

From the televised performance at the 1982 Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Orlando: Andrew Gillies; Adam: Mervyn Blake; Oliver: Stephen Russell; Dennis: Nicholas Colicos; Charles: Jefferson Mappin; Rosalind: Roberta Maxwell; Celia: Rosemary Dunsmore; Touchstone: Lewis Gordon; Le Beau: Keith Dinicol; Duke Frederick: Graeme Campbell; Duke Senior: William Needles; Amiens: John Novak; First Forest Lord: Thomas Hauff; Second Forest Lord: Michael Shepherd; First Lord to Duke Frederick: Steve Yorke; Second Lord to Duke Frederick: Peter Zednick; Corin: Deryck Hazel; Silvius: John Jarvis; Jaques: Nicholas Pennell; Audrey: Elizabeth Leigh-Milne; Sir Oliver Martext: Maurice E. Evans; Phebe: Mary Haney

From the 1978 BBC-TV production. Rosalind: Helen Mirren; Celia: Angharad Rees; Touchstone: James Bolam; Le Beau: John Quentin; Duke Frederick: Richard Easton; Orlando: Brian Stirner; Charles: David Prowse; Corin: David Lloyd Meredith; Jaques: Richard Pasco.

From a Royal Shakespeare Company production. Rosalind: Katy Stephens; Celia: Mariah Gale; Orlando: Jonjo O'Neill.

From Kenneth Branagh's 2006 film: Jaques: Kevin Kline; Touchstone: Alfred Molina; Audrey: Janet McTeer.

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