As You Like It

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Jaques Character Analysis

A faithful lord to Duke Senior, Jaques has an exaggeratedly melancholy disposition and is a devoted though cynical observer of the world that surrounds him. His meeting with Touchstone inspires him to become a fool, so that he may make use of his critical eye. However, Jaques's extreme melancholy often seems to indicate a degree of foolishness rather than the counterintuitive wisdom of the true fool. In the end of the play, his consistently external, observing position is further confirmed by his decision to join Duke Frederick in a monastery.

Jaques Quotes in As You Like It

The As You Like It quotes below are all either spoken by Jaques or refer to Jaques. 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 5 Quotes

I can suck melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs.

Related Characters: Jaques (speaker)
Page Number: 2.5.12-13
Explanation and Analysis:

Amiens, a lord of Duke Senior, enters singing to Jaques, another lord. Jaques begs Amiens to continue to sing his song. Amiens tells him that he is worried that the song will make Jaques sad. Jaques replies with this (unintentionally) humorous line, claiming that his cynicism and depression makes any song seem melancholy. In this moment Jaques proves that even former members of the court can appear foolish. He brags about his own sadness, almost celebrating his ability to find melancholy in anything. Furthermore, in his exaggerated commitment to his melancholy state, Jaques' character is actually comedic—an example of "foolishness" that lacks the lively wit and wisdom of the true fool, Touchstone. 

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Act 2, Scene 7 Quotes

When I did hear the motley fool thus moral on the time, my lungs began to crow like chanticleer that fools should be so deep contemplative.

Related Characters: Jaques (speaker), Touchstone
Page Number: 2.5.29-32
Explanation and Analysis:

Duke Senior describes a man he saw in the forest, and Jaques tells him that it may have been the fool he met in the forrest—Touchstone. Jaques describes the fool, claiming he was incredibly wise, philosophizing on the concept of time—so wise, indeed, that he made Jaques "crow like chantecleer" (a rooster) in delight. Once again, the fool is seen as a source of truth and wisdom. Jaques, the person who finds cynicism and melancholy in everything, was touched by Touchstone's philosophical nature, and now decides that he admires this kind of "foolishness," and even aspires to it. Jaques clearly desires to be seen as wise, and after this revelation he thinks that wisdom only comes in a jester's costume—so that is what he wants to wear.

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

Related Characters: Jaques (speaker)
Page Number: 2.7.146-150
Explanation and Analysis:

Orlando finds the Duke and Jaques and, desperate to feed the starving Adam, barges in on them demanding that they give him food. The Duke happily accepts, and Orlando apologizes for his behavior, claiming that the forest has made him savage. When Orlando leaves, the Duke reflects on this encounter, telling Jaques that the world is like a theatre where people suffer together as if on a stage. The Duke tries to compare Orlando's suffering to Jaques' need to feel melancholy about life. Jaques replies with this iconic quote. Here, he depicts life as being as inconsequential as actors on a stage. People go through their lives as if they are living in acts and scenes of a play, following a script that they have no control over until that play simply ends. 

This idea of performing a role is an important one in As You Like It. Many of the characters in the play physically wear disguises, or more metaphorical masks (as seen in Jaques' cynicism) in order to protect themselves. Rosalind disguises herself as Ganymede, enabling her the freedoms of a man, and here Jaques notes that throughout life, we all wear disguises and play the parts that we are told to play. This moment also brings up a certain comedic irony, as Jaques himself is merely a character in a play on a stage, and his life is written by William Shakespeare. 

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Jaques Character Timeline in As You Like It

The timeline below shows where the character Jaques appears in As You Like It. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
...estate to his other son, Oliver, and instructed him to raise his brothers, Orlando and Jaques, well. While treating Jaques fairly, however, Oliver has routinely denied Orlando all of the money,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...they go hunt for venison, and the First Lord agrees, though adds that “the melancholy Jaques, one of the duke’s lords (not to be confused with Jaques de Boys), is known... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...an ode to nature, which invites its listener to “come hither” to the greenwood tree. Jaques persistently begs Amiens to keep singing, despite Amien's warning that it will make him melancholy... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Jaques hands Amiens a poem he’s written, which describes a man who leaves his wealth to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...anywhere. Just as he is ordering his lords to go find this missing man, however, Jaques, the man in question, approaches. Jaques proceeds to describe a fool he rant into in... (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Jaques concludes by declaring his own wish to be a fool and his ambition to have... (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Duke Senior accuses Jaques of being hypocritical in pointing out the sins of others, having himself committed sins of... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
...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 simply poorly... (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 so many... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Orlando and Jaques enter, bickering. Jaques insults Rosalind’s name, and tells Orlando that being in love is the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Country vs. City Theme Icon
...already beautiful, and it is excessive to be both honest and beautiful. Throughout their exchange, Jaques stands nearby and makes occasional asides about Audrey’s stupidity. (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
...and inquires if there is anyone to give away the woman in the marriage ceremony. Jaques steps forward and offers to do it, but then convinces Touchstone that the marriage should... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Jaques approaches "Ganymede," wanting to get better acquainted. Rosalind calls Jaques a “melancholy fellow,” and Jaques... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Jaques addresses the First Lord, who has killed a deer, and suggests that he present his... (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 questions about Ganymede’s... (full context)
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Touchstone enters with Audrey, and Jaques identifies him as the fool he had mentioned meeting earlier in the forest. Touchstone claims... (full context)
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
Jaques de Boys enters and reports that Duke Frederick, who had been on his way to... (full context)
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
Everyone rejoices that they can return to the royal court, except for Jaques who announces that he will go join Duke Frederick in his life of contemplation at... (full context)