As You Like It

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Duke Senior Character Analysis

Duke Senior is Rosalind’s father and the rightful duke of the land. Before the action of the play, his brother, Duke Frederick, banished him from the land, forcing him to seek exile in the Forest of Arden. He lives there with faithful lords and attendants and generally keeps a positive outlook, embracing his circumstances, however unfortunate. His kindness toward Orlando and Adam demonstrates his generosity. The goodness of his character is rewarded in the end of the play by his daughter’s return and Duke Frederick’s renewal of his rule.

Duke Senior Quotes in As You Like It

The As You Like It quotes below are all either spoken by Duke Senior or refer to Duke Senior. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of As You Like It published in 2009.
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Are not these woods more free from peril than the envious court? Here feel we not the penalty of Adam.

Related Characters: Duke Senior (speaker)
Page Number: 2.2.3-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Duke Senior, Rosalind's banished father, enters in the Forest of Arden with his lords. Here, he explains to his lords that their life in the forest is not only more enjoyable but safer than their former lives in the court. For the Duke, the court represents a place of "painted pomp"; an artificial and oppressive place filled with the danger of betrayal and intrigue. The forest, however, is a place of freedom—and even of spiritual innocence, as the Duke suggests with his invocation of "the penalty of Adam" (that is, the original sin that is supposed to plague all humanity because of Adam and Eve's disobedience). This moment is also an indicator of the type of person Duke Senior is. He has been banished, yet he is making the most of his banishment (just as Celia did earlier): he is a strong willed optimist.  As the play continues we will see nature becoming a big part of Duke Senior's language and rhetoric. He references it often, as if he has accepted his fate in the forest and has become one with it.

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Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

Play, music, and you brides and bridegrooms all, with measure heaped in joy, to th’measures fall.

Related Characters: Duke Senior (speaker)
Page Number: 5.4.184-185
Explanation and Analysis:

Jaques De Boys, the brother of Orlando and Oliver, enters and tells the group that Duke Frederick (Celia's Father) was about to enter the woods to fight with his brother Duke Senior (Rosalind's father), but on the way encountered a man who encouraged him to convert and become a more peaceful and pious man. Duke Senior welcomes Jaques De Boys and encourages the celebrating to continue. He incites the group to celebrate as freely and happily as they desire, "in rustic revelry" of the forest. As it has been throughout the play, the forest and nature is a place of freedom and love.

By the end of the play, romantic love has developed nearly mystic powers. The marriage union of Orlando and Rosalind, Celia and Oliver, Touchstone and Audrey, and Phebe and Silvius meshes with the powers of the forest in a kind of magical, pagan way (a common theme in Shakespeare's comedies). The message here is that love makes fools of us, but it also betters us. Almost all the characters have found happiness in love, including Duke Frederick, apparently, who has rediscovered a love of God. 

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Duke Senior Character Timeline in As You Like It

The timeline below shows where the character Duke Senior appears in As You Like It. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
...see him. Charles informs Oliver that Duke Frederick has usurped and banished his older brother, Duke Senior , whom several lords have since willingly joined in exile. He adds that Rosalind, the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
In the Forest of Arden, Duke Senior addresses the lords who have joined him in exile. He remarks on the sweetness, freedom,... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Duke Senior suggests that they go hunt for venison, and the First Lord agrees, though adds that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...he could “suck melancholy” out of any song.) Before finishing the song, Amiens mentions that Duke Senior has been looking for Jaques all day, and Jaques admits that he’s been avoiding him. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Duke Senior is saying of someone that he must have become an animal, because he cannot be... (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...his ambition to have “a motley coat.” He elaborates that, when he becomes a fool, Duke Senior must still consider Jaques to be wise and that Jaques must be granted great liberty... (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Duke Senior accuses Jaques of being hypocritical in pointing out the sins of others, having himself committed... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Orlando enters and orders, “eat no more!” With drawn sword he demands food. Duke Senior and Jaques are taken aback, and the former inquires if the intruder is distressed or... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Duke Senior attests that they have seen better days and have been to church, and that they... (full context)
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon
Duke Senior and Jaques comment on how their own unhappiness is matched by the unhappy situations of... (full context)
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
Duke Senior , having recognized Orlando as the son of Sir Rowland de Boys, tells Orlando that... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Rosalind then tells Celia of having met with Duke Senior the day before and of him laughing at her claim that she was of a... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Touchstone and Audrey speak excitedly about their marriage. Two of Duke Senior ’s pages enter and sing a song for them. They sing of love in springtime,... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Duke Senior , Amiens, Jaques, Orlando, Oliver, and Celia (as Aliena) enter. In response to Duke Senior’s... (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...on to suggest that every level of retort could be avoided but the Lie Direct. Duke Senior praises Touchstone for his wit, remarking that “he uses his folly like a stalking horse,... (full context)
Romantic Love Theme Icon
...with Celia and Rosalind at his side, dressed now as themselves. Rosalind presents herself to Duke Senior and to Orlando, both of whom express some disbelief at her appearance; the former remarks... (full context)
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
...his conversion, he decided to return his crown to his banished brother, restore all of Duke Senior ’s lands, and go to live in a monastery. Duke Senior welcomes Jaques de Boys,... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...himself to be suited “for other than for dancing measures,” and says his goodbyes to Duke Senior , Orlando, Oliver, Silvius, and Touchstone. Jaques exits and all the other characters, except for... (full context)