As You Like It
This article is about Shakespeare's play. For other uses, see As You Like It (disambiguation).
Readers and audiences have long greeted As You Like It, one of William Shakespeare's plays, with delight. Its characters are brilliant conversationalists, including the princesses Rosalind and Celia and their Fool, Touchstone. Soon after Rosalind and Orlando meet and fall in love, the princesses and Touchstone go into exile in the Forest of Arden, where they find new conversational partners. Duke Frederick, younger brother to Duke Senior, has overthrown his brother and forced him to live homeless in the forest with his courtiers, including the cynical Jaques. Orlando, whose older brother Oliver plotted his death, has fled there, too.
Recent scholars have also grounded the play in the issues of its time. These include primogeniture, passing property from a father to his oldest son. As You Like It depicts intense conflict between brothers, exposing the human suffering that primogeniture entails. Another perspective concerns crossdressing. Most of Orlando’s courtship of Rosalind takes place while Rosalind is disguised as a man, “Ganymede.” At her urging, Orlando pretends that Ganymede is his beloved Rosalind. But as the epilogue reveals, the sixteenth-century actor playing Rosalind was male, following the practice of the time. In other words, a boy played a girl playing a boy pretending to be a girl.
As You Like It is thought to date from about 1599, although it was not published until the 1623 First Folio. Shakespeare’s primary source was the pastoral romance Rosalynde: Euphues' Golden Legacy by Thomas Lodge.
Act 5 includes the song “It was a lover and his lass,” published in Thomas Morley’s First Book of Ayres in 1600. The only existing copy of this book is in the Folger Shakespeare Library. It is possible that Shakespeare wrote the words and Morley the music, or that Morley wrote the song and Shakespeare used it for his play, or that this was a popular song used by both Shakespeare and Morley.
Productions at the Folger
- Helen Hayes Awards
- Nominations: "Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play" for Sarah Marshall
Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 2003 copy 2 v.03
In popular culture
The Folger owns at least 25 stand-alone translations of As You Like It in various languages (not including collected works). Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.
Explore the curated image group for As You Like It in the Folger digital image collection.
- Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 1997 Folger Shakespeare Library.