Lecture 9- "As You Like It"
Lecture 9- "As You Like It" ENG 209
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Miranda Browning on Thursday September 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 209 at North Carolina State University taught by William Shaw in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Intro to Shakespeare in English at North Carolina State University.
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Date Created: 09/22/16
Lecture 9- As You Like It Characteristics of Shakespeare in Comedy Can be summed up by Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Jack shall have its Jill, nought shall go ill; The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.” Where subject matter is always love and romance, with some other topics thrown in. (A) Chains of Lovers—multiple lovers we see in “As You Like It”: Orlando & Rosalind, Oliver & Celia, Silvius & Phebe, Touchstone & Rosalind (B) Multiple Plots- love story of Orlando and Rosalind, but also the secondary plot of the conspiracy of one brothers against another (C) Clown servants who are usually used as commentators on the actions of the aristocrats; certainly Touchstone fills that role in this particular play (D) Girl lovers disguised as boys (Elizabethan conversion of boy actors added to purpose and confusion)- Rosalind uses this disguise to travel and escape from the Court, and also to spy on Orlando. (E) Strong willed independent females who are constant and more "realistic" than their male counterparts—certainly seen through Rosalind in this play, and also Kate, Hermia, Portia in other plays. (F) Urban vs. rural setting -- Dual settings, once again the Court versus the Forest and the “values” in conflict (G) Festive spirit of forest, or "fantasy" place that becomes fused with pastoral ideal. Spirit of the forest is the spirit of liberation and carnival, and of letting one’s repressed emotions find expression. (H) The ubiquitous "spoil-sport" or "kill-joy" who becomes a comic butt—can see this is a number of plays, in which we see a version of that in Merchant of Venice through Shylock. (I) Joyous, festive finales - the spirit of older medieval folk tales (Breughel painting of the wedding dance) - which provides some sense of renewal (J) Conflict between youth and age with youth winning—in the idea of a new society emerging out of the trials between the old and the new (K) Carefully calculated mixture of verse and prose—generally speaking, lower class characters speak prose and upper class characters speak verse (blank verse, rhymed couplets, iambic pentameter, etc.) (L) Conflict between friendship and love—saw that very much in Merchant of Venice, but not as much in this play (M) Theme of the overriding importance yet relativity of love—powerful theme in this play, where love is extremely important to the development of the human being and the society; this is the way societies populate themselves and fill themselves with joy and continuation. Yet the relativity of it—where it does not always mean there is only one person available to you. (N) Theme of love’s power to transform—important feature in all of the plays we have seen. That while love may be relative, it still has the power to change us in some way. Perhaps different and better than we were before. (O) Elaborate use of music (P) Widespread use of travel motifs (journeys of and for discovery)—traveling from one setting to another as various couples find themselves leaving a place of turmoil, they journey into a safe place with values associated with nature, enchantment, and romance. The experience of that time away from pressurized societies transforms them and makes them different. “As You Like It” –PLOT Plot is fairly simple – play begins with people living in court that are unhappy with their situation and feel they are being oppressed by authority figures around them and are forced into exile. Opens with Orlando complaining about his older brother Oliver—Oliver was supposed to have given Orlando a certain request from their father’s estate. In which the first oldest son inherits the estate of the father, and it is up to the oldest to take care of the other children, as stated in the father’s will. o Orlando distressed because he is forced to work like a peasant and is very unhappy. o Orlando complains to the servant Adam, the trusted family servant of many years. o When Oliver arrives on scene, Orlando complains to him about the situation, in which Oliver tells him to show some respect. This angers Orlando and he grapples and chokes Oliver. Oliver plans to dispatch Orlando with the wrestler Charles. o Oliver is angry with Orlando for having choked him, and tells Charles that Orlando is a treacherous individual and if he has to kill him in battle, so be it. In the opening scenes, Rosalind is also unhappy. She feels disenchanted, alienated because her father, Duke Senior, has been forced into exile by her Uncle, Duke Frederick. o Rosalind is living uneasily with her beloved cousin Celia. o They find out from Touchstone, the fool/court jester in the play, that there will be a wrestling match between Orlando and Charles. o Both Celia and Rosalind are attracted to Orlando and begin flirting with him, competing for his attention. o Orlando talks about how unhappy he is with his life and how nobody cares about him—so, if he were to lose and die in this match it would not matter. o Wrestling match begins—Orlando wins and both Celia and Rosalind come to congratulate him. o Rosalind takes her necklace and puts in on Orlando—the two gaze into each other’s eyes, and fall in love at first sight. Both Rosalind and Orlando find out they are in danger o Duke Frederick tells Rosalind to leave immediately or her life is in danger. Adam tells Orlando that Oliver is threatening to kill him. o So, everyone decides that it is time to leave the court. Orlando and Adam decide to escape together to the forest, and Rosalind and Celia escape to the forest. o Rosalind decides to assume the disguise of a male because it will allow them to travel with some freedom and provide some protection. Once they escape into the forest, they will encounter Duke Senior. Duke Senior describes the “pastoral ideal.” Pastoral Ideal: o That once in the state of nature, everything is pure, and good, and clean, and without the “painted pomp” of the court. Thus, you can find “good in everything,” and life that is untainted by the corruption of the outside world. When characters arrive in this world, some feel in harmony with it and some do not. Touchstone is a character completely out of place in nature—he is alien to the entire idea of the beauty of nature. Touchstone’s name is interesting—a touchstone is a stone used to test the value of precious metals. This is the real function of touchstone in this play, because he tests everyone when he speaks to them. o Shakespeare takes the stereotypes that one side has on the other (such that, city people think negatively of those who live in the forest and vice versa) and says that they both have their own importance and relevance. Thus, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. So, each world has its own value and you cannot assume that one ideal is better than the other. Ideals of Romantic Love Can notice through this play how many individuals are in the thrall of romantic love, that this love and passion will endure forever. Such that Orlando and Rosalind are love-struck and deeply in love. When Oliver meets Celia, it is love at first sight. When Touchstone and Audrey meet in the forest, it is like “lust at first sight.” Silvius is in the thrall of Phebe and claims he cannot live without her. But Phebe, falls in love with Rosalind who is in the disguise of Ganymede—so, she falls in love with a woman who is just disguised as a man. Have five instances of romantic love—obviously a concept that Shakespeare is interested in and will examine. Examines it with the old conception of the “Aristotelian Mean” – that virtue, or truth, is the mean between extremes. Extremes of love in this play: o Depicted by the sudden and complete immersion of love between the couples. o Rosalind, when she first meets Orlando, is just before the wrestling scene. o Wrestling is an important motif in this play—where it is not just the physical act of wrestling, but also one person wrestling with another in an attempt to subdue them emotionally and intellectually. o Celia and Rosalind attempt to compete with each other for the attention of Orlando—but the competition becomes more intense when Rosalind takes the chain from her neck and places it on Orlando. In which, Orlando is love-struck and cannot speak. Sense now that he has been wrestled down to a love-struck individual by Rosalind. What is Shakespeare getting at with all of these lovers? o Important difference between this play and Midsummer Night’s Dream—in MND the agency of love and change is through the fairies, in which they occurred through magic. In this play, however, the changes occur through intellectual reawakening, in which all of it is precipitated by Rosalind, the central character in this play. o Rosalind’s love is different from the others, and certainly different from the love between Touchstone and Audrey (which is more based on the physical aspects of love). o On the other side, they are the other couples. What they have in common is a kind of emotional and spiritual enthusiasm for love—they feel completely transported emotionally by this. o So much of what is important in the play has to do with Rosalind’s relationship with Orlando. Orlando goes around and puts poetry up around the forest. When Rosalind finds out it is written by Orlando, she finds him. But, she does not reveal herself as Rosalind, she is still in disguise as Ganymede. Rosalind disguised as Ganymede decides to coach Orlando about love and role- play with him. o We learn of Rosalind’s true function in the play, and through her we begin to understand the Aristotelian Mean Plot Continued After Orlando agrees to role-play with Ganymede, they meet a second time in the forest and she says “I am your Rosalind.” She continues to coach him on how to behave as a suitor. Orlando goes through this sort of passionate extreme, in which he suggests he cannot live without Rosalind: “Then in mine own person I die.” Right away Rosalind tries to deflate his feelings: “Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” Thus, deflation is part of what her task is. She is trying to orient Orlando into a kind of deeper reality—the reality of what their life will be like once the romantic passion subsides. Rosalind tells Orlando to look at what relationships are realistically—things and people change, so love has more to do with just initial passions and romances. Thus, things are not always pretty within relationships; sometimes people are perverse, jealous, clamored, etc. So, this romantic enthusiasm is only for a season. But, if love is going to endure, it has to recognize and undergo these realities. o Get back to the idea about the mean between extremes o Rosalind is suggesting not that we ignore the romantic enthusiasm and emotional excess, but recognize that reality will dictate the relationship overall. o Certainly different from Touchstone’s perspective on love—one that is cynical and physical—and other couples see love as enchanting and romantic. o Rosalind is saying there must be a balance in order to become real love. So, if love is going to endure it must allow for the recognition of the real world. o Suggests that the truth lies somewhere in the middle—as seen through the interpretation of Rosalind’s idea of enduring love and the views of city versus country living. Silvius is begging for Phebe to love him and treat him with passion o Phebe is being very rude & vicious to Silvius and Rosalind, watching all of this, comes in & begins to chide Phebe. o Through this passage, this is Phebe falling in love with Rosalind. Rosalind picks up on the fact that Phebe is so suddenly smitten by her. Jaques is described as the “melancholy Jaques.” But, very important character in this play. o Dr. Shaw’s understanding about Jaques—he is a lively individual rather than a depressed individual. He is melancholy, but a kind that he puts on because it makes him a contrariety. It puts him at odds with the conventional spirit of everyone else, such that he likes being the center of attention. He is an individualist, and someone who enjoys being at odds with whatever community he finds himself in. o Orlando breaks in on Jaques and Duke Senior and those who are about to have dinner. o Jaques provides this “seven ages of man” speech—seems sort of grim and negative. We always wonder from this, what is missing from this world? To some extent the answer is provided with an emblematic entrance: as Orlando enters, with Adam. o Adam is the wonderful servant who has given all of his life’s savings to Orlando to help him escape almost certain death. So what is missing in this world? Love, loyalty, devotion, joy—all of these elements that make our life worth living. Role of Jaques becomes important in the final scene of the play—we see very clearly what his function in the plot is. Thematic blocking- create blocking in a scene to show time, space, and movement and how the actors visualize the meaning of the text o Scene between Rosalind and Orlando—in which Rosalind, still disguised, claims that she has magical powers and can make the real Rosalind appear in order to marry Orlando when his older brother marries Aliena. o This scene, so purely theatrical, calls for blocking that draws attention to itself. o Interesting moment in the play where Phebe asks Silvius “what ‘tis to love?” Blocking could look something like this: with Silvius gazing at Phebe, Phebe looking towards Rosalind, and Orlando also looking toward Rosalind as they claim their love. Final Scene in the Play Last scene—all the various characters are coming on stage. Duke Senior is talking to Orlando about Ganymede and how much he reminded him of his daughter. Then Rosalind comes out with Silvius and Phebe—with the sense that Rosalind is the stage manager, going up to all characters and moving towards them as she speaks to them. Rosalind: “I have promised to make all this matter even.” o Saying all of these confusions will finally be resolved. o She again, once more, speaks to each of the characters one more time. Touchstone then comes in and doing a comic bit- talks about dueling and challenging someone. This set piece is conceived of as being put there to give Rosalind and Celia the chance to change costumes. So when they come back on stage, they are fully dressed as women. Rosalind and Celia return back on stage with Hymen, the Roman God of marriage. Seldom or never do you have Christian priests or pastors appear on stage. In Shakespeare’s time this would have been considered dangerous and heretical. The theatres were considered secular and no place to interrupt with Christian principles/marriage. Thus, they would often use classical Gods and Goddess to fill this role. Hymen: “I must make conclusion of these most strange events.” So, we are having four weddings: Silvius & Phebe, Orlando & Rosalind, Oliver & Celia, and Touchstone & Audrey. Then they sing a song. We need to notice that love in Shakespearian terms is not individual. It has a social component as well, such that, you are not just marrying one person, but marrying into another family and group of friends. This is why you have a communal celebration. Interestingly, for someone who has loved the forest and uttered the pastoral ideal, the first chance he gets Duke Senior goes back to court. Everyone, as you will see decides to go back to court, except Jaques. From here, Duke Senior suggests for the music to begin, and for people to begin dancing. Question: do you have everyone start dancing first and have Jaques interrupt, or have him interrupt before they begin dancing? Which would be more appropriate to the ending of the play and the character of Jaques? o Dr. Shaw’s take on this—he would have the dancing continue for a full 30 seconds, and then have Jaques say “Sir…by your patience.” Then people stop dancing, and the music stops, and him state the remainder of his line. o WHY? Because he is a kill-joy, a spoil-sport. Here people are having fun and dancing is taking place, and he must introduce himself as an individual who breaks up the party. Thus, making the scene more about himself as he claims he will put on the religious life and not join them in the court. o Similar to Rosalind’s pattern of approaching individuals, Jaques individually approaches characters to say his farewells. But, he does not go to the couples- he goes to the men and avoids speaking to the women. o Basically, this is someone who benefits better from living alone and not in society. He would rather avoid the communal society and the women and stay in his “abandoned cave.” o At this point the dancing could begin again, and people would dance their way off stage. Orlando and Rosalind would be the last couple to exit, in which Rosalind would stay to deliver the final epilogue. Considered one of Shakespeare’s highest achievements in romantic comedy.