In the first scene of the play, Charles the wrestler reports the news from Duke Senior's court to Oliver. His report foreshadows many of the play's key plot points:
There’s no news at the court, sir, but the old news. That is, the old duke is banished by his younger brother the new duke, and three or four loving lords have put themselves into voluntary exile with him, whose lands and revenues enrich the new duke. Therefore he gives them good leave to wander.
Charles explains that Duke Senior has been banished by Duke Frederick, his younger brother. Several faithful lords have left with him voluntarily, to face exile rather than remain with the new duke. Frederick accepts their open rebellion, because it means he can seize their wealth and lands.
This scene foreshadows the key plot developments of Oliver’s exile of Orlando, and Duke Frederick’s exile of Rosalind. In both cases, innocent aristocrats are sent into exile for political reasons. They are both accompanied by a servant or friend (Adam, Celia), who voluntarily goes into exile out of a sense of loyalty and devotion. In this sense, there is literally “no news but old news”: Duke Frederick’s behavior is about to become a pattern among the nobility.
This scene lays the groundwork for the exploration of love, power, and family dynamics throughout As You Like It. The example of the “loving lords,” who forfeit their land for their friend, already puts loyalty and love at odds with worldly gain and prestige. This conflict will be repeated again and again in different forms throughout the play. Adam and Celia give up land and privilege to remain true friends to Orlando and Rosalind. Likewise, even Oliver is willing to give up his dukedom out of love for the shepherdess “Aliena.” Finally, an off-stage Duke Frederick repents of his crimes against his brother after a religious conversion, and restores Duke Senior to his former status, solidifying the power of love over greed.
In Act 3, Scene 2, Celia reveals to Rosalind that Orlando is the one leaving love letters tacked to the trees in the Forest of Arden, and that she has seen him there that morning. Rosalind’s reaction foreshadows elements of her dynamic with Orlando going forward:
Celia: [...] He was furnished like a hunter.
Rosalind: O, ominous! He comes to kill my heart.
Celia notes that Orlando was dressed as a hunter, which Rosalind thinks is fitting, given that he has come to “kill her heart.” Based on his poetry, Rosalind predicts that Orlando will try to seek her out in the Forest of Arden and win her over. However, Rosalind’s choice of words is troubling. She does not say that Orlando is there to “capture” or “track” or “search out” her heart, but to “kill” it. The word choice reflects Rosalind’s (grounded) assumption that Orlando is inexperienced in love, and her fear that he will hurt her.
The comparison of a lover to a hunter here actually foreshadows Rosalind’s role in her relationship with Orlando. Rosalind as “Ganymede” quickly establishes herself as Orlando’s pursuer, tracking him down, winning his interest with her sense of humor, and establishing a relationship between them (in which he will “call [her] Rosalind and come every day to [her] cote ”). Ultimately, she even arranges their marriage.
It is only Rosalind’s identity as “Ganymede” that makes this possible. As “Ganymede,” her offers to advise Orlando in love are taken seriously; as a woman, her advice would probably be ignored. Rosalind’s disguise has turned the tables on the traditional dynamic between men and women in this era, turning herself into the “hunter” and Orlando into her prize.