As You Like It as A Play of Pastoral Comedy

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      Traditionally, a pastoral is a poem focusing on shepherds and rustic life; it first appeared as a literary form in the third century C.E. The term itself is derived from pastor, the Latin word for "shepherd." A pastoral may contain artificial or unnatural elements, such as shepherd characters speaking with courtly eloquence or appearing in aristocratic dress. This poetic convention evolved over centuries until many of its features were incorporated into prose and drama. It was in these literary forms that pastoralism influenced English literature from about 1550 to 1750, most often as pastoral romance, a model featuring songs and characters with traditional pastoral aspects. Many of these elements can be seen in the source for Shakespeare's play, Thomas Lodges popular pastoral novel Rosalynde, written in 1590. But by the time Shakespeare adapted Lodge's tale into As You Like It nearly a decade later, many pastoral themes were considered trite.

      As a result, Shakespeare treated pastoralism ambiguously in the comedy. Without doubt, the audience is meant to be intoxicated by the care-free atmosphere of the forest along with the main characters, who are essentially given the freedom to concern themselves only with romantic love. The image of Orlando dashing from tree to tree hanging up his poems is perhaps the most emblematic of the play as a whole. Also, with the usurper Frederick as the head of the dukedom and the magnanimous Duke Senior overseeing lite in the forest, each setting is endowed with the characteristics of its figurehead; the connotations of the forest are almost exclusively positive. In the speech in which Duke Senior introduces Arden, he praises the "tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything".

      On the other hand, the audience is rarely given respite from Jaques, whose melancholy is not really lessened by the forest, and Touchstone, who incessantly disparages both forest life in Arden and forest dwellers. While some of Touchstone's comments are merely absurd - such as portraying Corin as a sinner for not having been at court - their presence nonetheless prevents a wholly idealistic tone from taking over. Perhaps most tellingly, the comedy's resolution entails the entire company returning to court rather than remaining in the forest. Overall, As You Like It can be viewed as either an endorsement or a satire of the literary form of the pastoral and that duality is nowhere more evident than in the play's title. Take your choice.

      The world Pastoral comedy ostensibly refers to the life of the rural folk and their ways of living, manners, and customs. Thus the word 'Pastoral' come to identify an ideal space representing innocence, peace, philosophical idea. It is also a place of beauty peculiarly suited for love and lovers and the creation of poetry. A Pastoral work of art is that type of literary work which deals with the life of Shepherd Shepherdess and other country folks, who lives in the lap of nature. Pastoral romances were highly popular in the Elizabethan age and in As You Like It William Shakespeare has followed the same tradition.

In As You Like It the main action takes place entirely in the natural atmosphere of the forest of Arden.
Forest of Arden

      Because the play is a Pastoral one, we have to consider the imaginary creation of the forest of Arden. He created that forest namely the forest of Arden to provide the sincere Pastoral taste of such a wonderful comedy. The harassed lovers troubled by kings Dukes and uncles often left the life of court in literary traditions, took refuge in the woods, where they spend their lives in the guide of Shepherds and Shepherdess wooing marriage each other.

      In As You Like It the main action takes place entirely in the natural atmosphere of the forest of Arden. Among with some beautiful natural surroundings which include beasts, birds, bees, snakes, hungry animals, and many others. We find many actors of the play, in the course of action come to take shelter in the bosom of the forest of Arden, for their self-enjoyment and also for necessity. In the entire play, almost all the major characters including Oliver, Orlando, Rosalind, Cilia, Touchstone, Jacques, two Dukes have taken shelter in the forest of Arden. All the major incidents also occurred in the ideal atmosphere of Arden. There is a full Restoration of all the complexities that happen in Arden, and all the characters finally get their due respect honor, and position on the natural blossom of the Pastoral. Orlando proves his love for Rosalind in the forest, Oliver gets Cilia as his mistress, both Rosalind and Cilia come out from their disguise, Duke senior got his last honor and position, Touchstone marriage Audrey, Silvius got engaged to Phebe, etc.

      The pastoral meeting of all major characters allows criticizing the court for its violence and perversion. This criticism is founded its root on the blunder that 'the banished lords are shepherds', this illusion in As You Like It breaks down toward us, when we realize that the so-called shepherds are courtiers of the court and they pretend to criticize. Though ostensibly the victims refer to the human beings living in the forest. It is a mark of Shakespeare's mature comedy that he consent to this criticism of his ideal world in the very centrum of it.

      All this central incidence has taken place not in the court not under the royal favor but in the ideal atmosphere of Pastoral. In this way, the creation of the forest of Arden proves the most significant part of the play, for which the comedy As You Like It can be called one of the most successful Pastoral comedy, ever produced in the British theatre.

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