As You Like It

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Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Analysis

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.
Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Theme Icon

The play is structured around two pairs of siblings and one pair of cousins—Orlando and Oliver, Duke Senior and Duke Frederick, Celia and Rosalind. Each pair has a different dynamic, defined by varying degrees of familial love and desire for power. Whereas the relationships between Oliver and Orlando and between the two dukes are characterized by competition, envy, and power mongering, Celia and Rosalind maintain a relationship characterized by love and inseparability.

By the end of the play, however, love and mutual understanding become defining features of all of these close family ties, even for the spiteful male siblings: Orlando looks past Oliver’s prior evil and saves his brother from a potentially fatal attack; returning his brother’s generosity, Oliver revokes his previous intent to kill Orlando and treats him as a true brother. Oliver and Orlando are then further united by their simultaneous marriage to the inseparable cousins, Rosalind and Celia. Even the malignant relationship between the dukes is resolved, as Duke Frederick, en route to fight his brother, encounters a religious man and is suddenly inspired to devote his life to a monastic existence. To fulfill his purpose and undo his past evil, he restores power to Duke Senior. In all of these relationships, conflict arises out of competition, jealousy, and a desire for unchallenged power. In all, these forces are shown to be ultimately less powerful than the force of love (for family, for God).

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Love and Rivalry Between Relatives Quotes in As You Like It

Below you will find the important quotes in As You Like It related to the theme of Love and Rivalry Between Relatives.
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 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 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 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.