As You Like It


William Shakespeare

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As You Like It Themes

Read our modern English translation.
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.

Deception, Disguise, and Gender

As You Like It is structured around acts of deception that complicate the play’s narrative and allow for events to unfold that otherwise might not. The primary tricksters of the play are Rosalind and Celia, who disguise themselves in order to go undetected into the Forest of Arden. Rosalind dresses as a man and goes by the name “Ganymede”; Celia pretends to be a shepherdess and calls herself “Aliena.” By constructing false…

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Romantic Love

As You Like It mocks traditional dramatizations of love, inspiring folly, servitude, and sorrow in its victims. Orlando’s bad, omnipresent poetry; Silvius’s slavish commitment to Phebe, a plain and unloving shepherdess; and Rosalind’s, Oliver’s, and Phebe’s speechless and instantaneous infatuations (they all fall in love at first sight) are all exaggerated instances of the dramatized representations of love that the play is mocking. At the end of the play, Rosalind…

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Country vs. City

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…

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Love and Rivalry Between Relatives

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…

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Fools and Foolishness

There is a distinction developed throughout As You Like It between those who are fools and those who are foolish. Touchstone is the exemplary fool: he is witty and “poetical,” and his comments, though cloaked in clownish language, are wise and apt. He is, moreover, self-conscious about his own identity as a fool, and philosophizes on the very characterization, commenting “the more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly,” and…

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