As You Like It

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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 1, Scene 1 Quotes

My father charged you in his will to give me good education: you have trained me like a peasant, obscuring and hiding from me all gentlemanlike qualities. The spirit of my father grows strong in me, and I will no longer endure it.

Related Characters: Orlando (speaker), Oliver
Page Number: 1.1.65-70
Explanation and Analysis:

As You Like It begins with a conflict between Orlando and his brother Oliver. After the death of their father, Oliver was tasked with taking care of his younger brothers Orlando and Jaques. Here, Orlando laments on how poorly his brother has treated him. This moment introduces readers to the theme of rivalry between relatives. Oliver has done a great disservice to Orlando and their father by keeping his brother uneducated and "ungentlemanly"—by doing so he leaves Orlando in a unique and subordinate position. He is still a member of the court, but was not taught how to behave like a nobleman, and thus is likely to be scorned and looked down upon. This internal struggle within Orlando will come to play out throughout As You Like It. 


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I hope I shall see an end of him; for my soul, yet I know not why, hates nothing more than he. Yet he’s gentle, never schooled and yet learned, full of noble device, of all sorts enchantingly beloved.

Related Characters: Oliver (speaker), Orlando
Page Number: 1.1.161-165
Explanation and Analysis:

Charles, a wrestler and friend of Oliver's, enters and tells Oliver that his brother Orlando plans to disguise himself and fight against Charles in a wrestling match. Charles warns Oliver that he will likely hurt or embarrass Orlando if he is allowed in the wrestling ring. Oliver lies and tells Charles that he has already warned Orlando. He then calls his brother a villain and encourages Charles to break his neck as if it were a "finger." He also warns Charles that if he doesn't beat Orlando he must never wrestle for money again. In all this we see the extent of Oliver's cruelty and irrational hatred toward his brother. He even acknowledges that Orlando is a good and admirable man, but Oliver still can't seem to help hating him—and he accepts this hatred and acts upon it. This moment also sets up the wrestling match as an important plot point in the play; the physical conflict begins here as well as Orlando's relationship with Rosalind. 

Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

The more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly.

Related Characters: Touchstone (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.85-86
Explanation and Analysis:

Touchstone, a fool, interrupts Rosalind and Celia's conversation and tells Celia that her father (Duke Frederick) is looking for her. He pokes fun at Duke Frederick, frustrating Celia. She tells him that if he keeps going he will be whipped. He responds with this line, suggesting that while fools may behave foolishly, what they say is often true. Like many of Shakespeare's plays, As You Like It uses the character of the fool (in this case Touchstone) as a source of unadulterated, objective truth. While comedic, he will turn out to be one of the wisest characters in the play. And, often times, the non-fools, like Rosalind and Celia, make the most "foolish" and rash choices of the play. The irony is that the fool is the most perceptive character and source of crucial information for the audience, as the other characters are too deeply enmeshed in the conflicts of the story. 

What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue? I cannot speak to her, yet she urged conference.

Related Characters: Orlando (speaker), Rosalind
Page Number: 1.2.258-259
Explanation and Analysis:
After winning the wrestling match, Orlando admits his true identity to Rosalind and Celia. Rosalind tells him that if she knew who he was she would have stopped him from fighting, and she then gives him a chain as a congratulatory gift and symbol of her respect for his father and his victory. Orlando is immediately smitten. He says this line after Rosalind and Celia exit. Orlando, who earlier stood up to his brother with keen articulation is, for the first time, at a loss for words. This is the first time of many where his love for Rosalind will make him speak foolishly. 
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

Come, come, wrestle with thy affections.

Related Characters: Celia (speaker), Rosalind
Page Number: 1.3.21
Explanation and Analysis:
In a moment alone, Rosalind tells Celia that she is now overwhelmed with fear for both her father and her "Child's father", suggesting that she has two men on her mind: her banished father Duke Senior, and Orlando. Here, Celia tries to comfort Rosalind, telling her to control her emotions. The use of "wrestle" is playful, as Celia is referring to both Rosalind's internal struggle as well as the flirtation that transpired between Rosalind and Orlando after Orlando's wrestling match. Just as Orlando physically wrestled with Charles, so Rosalind must now wrestle with her own feelings for him. Even though they are cousins, Celia is a constant source of support and sisterly love for Rosalind. This is a tender moment leading up to the conflict that will occur between Rosalind and Celia's father. 

Let’s away and get our jewels and our wealth together, devise the fittest time and safest way to hide us from pursuit that will be made after my flight. Now we go in content to liberty, and not to banishment.

Related Characters: Celia (speaker), Rosalind
Page Number: 1.3.140-145
Explanation and Analysis:

The Duke storms in and interrupts Celia and Rosalind's conversation, telling Rosalind that she is officially banished from the court. The two cousins are inseparable, however, and Celia refuses to remain in the court without Rosalind. They decide that they will flee to the forest of Arden, Rosalind disguised as a man and Celia disguised as a shepherd girl. Here, Celia tells Rosalind that they will not let themselves be "banished," but rather are leaving the city willfully in pursuit of freedom. Celia's loyalty to Rosalind supersedes her love and loyalty to her father and her inheritance. She would rather live a poor, happy life in the forest than a lavish life alone in court. Like in many Shakespeare plays, the city here becomes a symbol of oppressive social structures and edicts and the forrest and nature is a place of freedom and fluidity. 

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.

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

Poor old man, thou prun’st a rotten tree that cannot so much as a blossom yield in lieu of all thy pains and husbandry. But come thy ways, we’ll go along together.

Related Characters: Orlando (speaker), Adam
Page Number: 2.3.64-67
Explanation and Analysis:

Adam warns Orlando to not return to his house in fear that Oliver will kill him. Trying to convince Orlando to flee, Adam tells him that he will give up his possessions and come with him to escape the court. In this speech,Orlando shows deep gratitude for the old man who has served his family. He respects Adam's devotion and agrees to leave the court together with him. Using the natural imagery of the tree, Orlando tells Adam that in agreeing to go with him he is "pruning a tree with no blossoms"—they will lose everything, and there is probably no reward to result from their hardships. Here we see Adam and Orlando mirroring Rosalind and Celia—although not relatives by blood, they behave and love each other as such. 

Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

O, thou didst then never love so heartily! If thou rememb’rest not the slightest folly that ever love did make thee run into, thou hast not loved.

Related Characters: Silvius (speaker), Phebe
Page Number: 2.4.32
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we meet Silvius and Corin, Shepherds in the Forest of Arden. Upon entering, Silvius laments about his unrequited love for a woman (Phebe). He asks Corin if he remembers anything foolish that he has done in the name of love, and Corin cannot remember anything. Silvius replies with this quote, claiming that if Corin cannot remember the things he has done for love, he was never truly in love. Silvius suggests that love cannot exist without foolishness, echoing the remarks of both Rosalind and Orlando earlier in the play. Once again, love makes a fool out of everyday people—an idea exaggerated and satirized throughout As You Like It, as in many other Shakespeare comedies.

We that are true lovers run into strange capers; but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly.

Related Characters: Touchstone (speaker)
Page Number: 2.4.53-55
Explanation and Analysis:

Rosalind, Touchstone and Celia have overheard Silvius' conversation with Corin. Rosalind tells the group that she can relate to Silvius. Touchstone then reflects on his own past lover, Jane Smile, and says once again that folly and foolishness are a direct result of deep love. Shakespeare brings up an interesting irony here. The memory of love causes Touchstone, the snide fool, to open up and have a moment of deep earnestness. While still comedic and couched in wordplay (using "mortal" to mean both that all living things eventually die and the foolishness of love eventually dies as well), his speech is truthful, suggesting that love can make even the funniest fool reflective and the most serious person foolish. 

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. 

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. 

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

Run, run, Orlando, carve on every tree the fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she.

Related Characters: Orlando (speaker), Rosalind
Related Symbols: Orlando’s Poems
Page Number: 3.2.9-10
Explanation and Analysis:
In a moment alone, Orlando soliloquizes about his love for Rosalind. He reads a poem that he has written comparing her to the Queen Of The Night, Diana, and shares his plan to post all of his love poems on the trees of the Forest of Arden. As predicted, love has turned him into the fool. He is mad with it. His poem is extremely romantic, calling the trees his "books" where he can share his undying love for Rosalind with the entire forest. His desire to post his love poems on every tree indicates the vast expanse and extent of Orlando's love for Rosalind, also shows that he feels that especially foolish desire, often associated with lovers, to make his feelings as public as possible.

O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful, and yet again wonderful, and after that, out of all hooping!

Related Characters: Celia (speaker)
Related Symbols: Orlando’s Poems
Page Number: 3.2.195-197
Explanation and Analysis:

Dressed as Ganymede and a poor woman, Rosalind and Celia read the poems Orlando has posted onto the trees in the forest. The poems are extremely cliche and overly romantic, yet Rosalind doesn't seem to notice.

Celia then tells her that she knows who wrote the poems. She teases Rosalind by giving her hints, telling her that it is the wrestler Rosalind gave the chain to on their last night in court. She describes him as "wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful" and then tells Rosalind that the man who loves her is Orlando. Here, Celia once again pokes fun at Rosalind's passionate affection for Orlando. In this line she mimics the over-the-top nature of Orlando's poems. She also jests at Rosalind's ability to be blinded by love so much that she doesn't realize how corny the poems truly are. 

Then there is no true lover in the forest, else sighing every minute and groaning every hour would detect the lazy foot of Time as well as a clock.

Related Characters: Rosalind (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ganymede
Page Number: 3.2.307-310
Explanation and Analysis:
Orlando comes upon Rosalind and Celia in the forest—but they are dressed as Ganymede and a poor woman, so he does not recognize them. Rosalind decides to tease Orlando a bit to see how he acts, and to test the supposed strength of his love. She asks him the time and he says that he doesn't know. She then taunts him saying that he must not be a true lover, because a true lover sighs every minute and groans every hour, just as regularly as a clock ticks. By toying with Orlando and maintaining her disguise, Rosalind shows the audience that she has some control over her own love for Orlando. Orlando is also more casual and open with Rosalind in this moment because he see her as a fellow man, talking openly and freely about love. In many ways both find freedom in the role of Rosalind-as-Ganymede, as for the moment neither act like tongue-tied, foolish lovers.

Love is merely a madness, and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punished and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too. Yet I profess curing it by counsel.

Related Characters: Rosalind (speaker), Orlando
Related Symbols: Ganymede
Page Number: 3.2.407-412
Explanation and Analysis:

"Ganymede" and Orlando continue to discuss life and love. Yet Unbeknownst to Orlando, the young boy he is speaking to is actually his one true love Rosalind. She then taunts him, telling him that she would like to give some advice to the young man who keeps carving love notes on trees. Orlando reveals that he is the one doing so. She tests him, asking him if he truly loves Rosalind as much as he says he does. He replies by telling her that "neither rhyme nor reason" can express his love. She retorts with this quote, in which she claims that love is a disease that needs to be cured. (In Shakespeare's time, mental illness was often "treated" by locking the patient in a dark room or beating them—and here Rosalind suggests the same "cure" for lovers.) She then offers to assist Orlando in curing his love sickness by pretending to be the woman he loves and coaching him on how to manage his feelings for her. 

Rosalind finds freedom in her disguise, playing with Orlando and testing his love for her by calling his poetry a sign of madness. This also begins the relationship of Rosalind (Ganymede) as teacher and Orlando as student. She aims to teach Orlando to be a suitable lover for her while also spending time with him without the foolishness that love incites in both of them. 

Act 3, Scene 5 Quotes

O, for shame, for shame, lie not, to say mine eyes are murderers. Now show the wound mine eye hath made in thee.

Related Characters: Phebe (speaker), Silvius
Page Number: 3.5.19-21
Explanation and Analysis:

In another part of the forest, Silvius the Shepherd begs Phebe, the woman he loves, to not hurt his feelings. He asks her to tell him if she loves him, and if she doesn't to do so nicely, comparing her to an executioner. Phebe replies with a speech criticizing Silvius' language. Here she rejects the hyperbolic nature of his rhetoric, saying that her eyes are not capable of murder. She challenges him to show her the physical scar that her eyes have caused, making the metaphorical literal.

Here, Phebe rejects the very language of love that characters like Orlando thrive on.  She is not in love with Silvius, so she cannot understand why he is behaving so foolishly. This lack of love keeps her pragmatic and honest. She is not as easily wooed or manipulated by love the way some of the other characters in the play are, making her a stark comedic contrast and logical voice in the play.

Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might, “Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”

Related Characters: Phebe (speaker), Rosalind, Silvius
Related Symbols: Ganymede
Page Number: 3.5.86-87
Explanation and Analysis:

After her tiff with Silvius, Phebe meets Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede). Ganymede tells her that she isn't pretty enough to behave the way she is behaving. It is this cruelty and criticism that causes Phebe to in love with Ganymede at first sight, not knowing that she is truly a woman.  

After Rosalind leaves, in a moment of great irony, Phebe turns to Silvius and says this line. Phebe, who was critical of love language just moments before, has fallen into the pit immediately, claiming that true love is love at first sight. Furthermore, when faced with love, Phebe's entire language shifts. She is no longer logical or pragmatic but is rather hopelessly and foolishly in love, finding Ganymede's scorn attractive, even romantic. 

Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

Nay, you were better speak first, and when you were graveled for lack of matter, you might take occasion to kiss. Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit; and for lovers, lacking – God warn us! – matter, the cleanliest shift is to kiss.

Related Characters: Rosalind (speaker), Orlando
Related Symbols: Ganymede
Page Number: 4.1.77-82
Explanation and Analysis:

Orlando arrives late for his first lesson on love from Ganymede. Rosalind (as Ganymede) scolds him for missing their meeting that morning, and makes Orlando apologize to her as if she is Rosalind. She then asks him what he would do in this moment if she were Rosalind. Orlando tells her that he'd kiss her. Rosalind replies with this line, telling Orlando that lovers must always speak first and then only kiss when they run out of things to say. Once again, Rosalind finds great satisfaction in educating orlando under the guise of Ganymede. She finds freedom in her disguise and is able to speak to him in a way that she wouldn't be able to as a woman. This moment also reveals how hasty and dumbfounded Orlando is by his love for Rosalind. He immediately resorts to kissing as opposed to thinking and speaking. 

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Twice did he turn his back and purposed so; but kindness, nobler ever than revenge, and nature, stronger than his just occasion, made him give battle to the lioness.

Related Characters: Oliver (speaker), Orlando
Page Number: 4.3.134-137
Explanation and Analysis:

Oliver enters and notices that Rosalind and Celia fit the descriptions of Ganymede and Aliena, the two he has been searching for. He hands Rosalind a bloody napkin, explaining that the reason why Orlando never showed up for their meeting was because he saw an unconscious man with a snake slithering around his neck, and a lion hiding in the woods near the man. Orlando then realized that the man was Oliver, and contemplated whether or not to leave him there to die. He twice decided to leave, but then ultimately decided to save his brother, and was wounded in the process. This act of kindness changed Oliver. Seeing his brother choose the power of nature over revenge influenced him to become a better person. 

The rivalry between Orlando and Oliver has come to a close in a moment of self sacrifice (and one which occurs off-stage). What is more, Orlando, who was never given any proper education due to the cruelty of his older brother, makes the choice to do the kind and noble thing, whereas Oliver, a man raised in the court, has always turned a blind eye to the needs of his brother. The social freedom forest can change people so much that even the seemingly evil Oliver can actually become good.

Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

Your brother and my sister no sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage.

Related Characters: Rosalind (speaker), Orlando, Oliver, Celia
Page Number: 5.2.33-39
Explanation and Analysis:

Oliver has fallen in love with Aliena (Celia). He asks his brother Orlando for consent, and, thinking he is going to marry a shepherdess- as opposed to a noblewoman- he decides to give his fortune to Orlando. As he exits, Rosalind enters and talks with Orlando about the unusual romance that has sparked between Aliena and Oliver. Here she reflects (both poetically and humorously) on the immediacy of their love as well as how deep it seems to be. 

Similar to Phebe, Oliver has been wooed at first sight and throws away all pragmatism to be with the woman he loves. The man who once valued wealth and esteem in the court more than his own brother is now giving away his entire fortune to be with a shepherdess. This indicates how much romantic love changes the entire world view of an individual, especially in the exaggerated action of the comedy.

[To Orlando] As you love Rosalind, meet. [To Silvius] As you love Phebe, meet. And as I love no woman, I’ll meet. So fare you well.

Related Characters: Rosalind (speaker), Orlando, Silvius, Phebe
Related Symbols: Ganymede
Page Number: 5.3.124-126
Explanation and Analysis:

All of the lovers unite in one scene. Phebe tells Rosalind (as Ganymede) that she is furious that "he" shared her letter. Silvius still pines for Phebe. Oliver loves Aliena (Celia) and Orlando is downtrodden at his inability to find Rosalind.

Rosalind quiets the group by explaining that the next day all will be answered (as she plans to reveal herself). She tells each of the lovers that they will meet the one they love as they really are. Once again Rosalind is the authority, the teacher of all things regarding love. Although the group doesn't understand how, they trust that she will bring all of their problems to a resolution. Yet it is important to note that she also maintains her leadership position because she is still thought to be a man. Her disguise has given her the freedom of manhood, the ability to lead. 

This moment also depicts the true chaos caused by Rosalind's disguise. Love has driven all the characters mad, and Rosalind knows that she cannot wait any longer to reveal herself. 

Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

Peace ho! I bar confusion; ‘Tis I must make conclusion of these most strange events. Here’s eight that must take hands to join in Hymen’s bands, if truth holds true contents.

Related Characters: Hymen (speaker)
Page Number: 5.4.130-135
Explanation and Analysis:

After promising Orlando that he will marry Rosalind the day before, Rosalind appears at the altar as herself next to Hymen, the god of marriage. She is finally reunited with her father and Orlando sees her as she truly is. Hymen then sings a wedding song to marry the couple (along with the three other couples, as almost all the characters have paired off). Marriage is seen as the decisive way to end the confusion of the events that have ensued in the forest. Suddenly including Hymen, a god, is perhaps an indication of the kind of magic or even divine power that love can bring. And, in a more traditional viewpoint, Shakespeare suggests that it is marriage, supposedly the ultimate expression of romantic love, that leads to clarity.

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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