As You Like It

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Themes and Colors
Deception, Disguise, and Gender Theme Icon
Romantic Love Theme Icon
Country vs. City Theme Icon
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon
Fools and Foolishness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in As You Like It, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Country vs. City Theme Icon

All the characters, at some point in the play, leave the royal court for the Forest of Arden. This mass exodus results from various characters being forced into exile (Duke Senior, Orlando, Rosalind), and then various others voluntarily joining them (the Lords, Adam, Celia). The forest thus serves as the theater of the play. A space in which time and conduct are relaxed, it is a setting that allows for things to happen and people to act in ways that they wouldn’t within the bounds of mannered city life: royalty and shepherds comingle (Rosalind and Celia interact with Silvius, Phebe, and Corin; Touchstone marries Audrey), the former pose as the latter (Rosalind and Celia dress themselves as people of the forest), and Cupid’s presence is potent (romance is sparked, vows are said). To welcome the weddings at the end of the play, Duke Senior declares, “in this forest let us do those ends / That where were well begun and well begot.”

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Country vs. City Quotes in As You Like It

Below you will find the important quotes in As You Like It related to the theme of Country vs. City.
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

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. 


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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.