As You Like It: Act 2, Scene 3 - Summary & Analysis

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ACT II. Scene III.


Introduction to the Scene

      This scene explains Orlando’s flight, showing the gentle side of his nature and exhibiting his sweetness of disposition in the manner in which he has won the love and affection of old Adam.


Take that, and He that doth the ravens feed
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow
Be comfort to my age.
(Act II, Scene III, Lines 43-42)

      In these lines we get the character of the faithful Adam who is ready to offer all the money he has saved in his lifetime to Orlando so that he may run away from the greedy and cruel Oliver and may lead a happy life elsewhere. He hopes that the benevolent Almighty who feeds the raven and provides sufficient food for the sparrow will also help him in his old age. When we hear such consoling words from Adam, the faithful, honest and devoted servant, we forget that he is a servant. We feel his is some religious pious man, almost a saint.

      We can compare these words to the following utterance of Christ - ‘‘He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry, Not a sparrow shall fall on the ground without your Father” and the following words. “Take no thought of the morrow, for the heavenly father will provide for you all.”

O good old man, how well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world
When service sweat for duty, not for meed
(Act II, Scene III, Lines 56-58)

      We know that Adam has offered to Orlando not only his money but also his services. The heart of Orlando is bubbling with emotions at seeing the constant and selfless service of Adam. He is all praise for Adam. Adam, he says, has given an excellent example of the faithful service rendered in olden times when service was ungrudgingly rendered for the love of duty, not for the love of gain.

      The modern times are wicked and persons are selfish and calculating. They are not faithful and constant in their service. So long as their purpose is served, they will serve. But as soon as their selfish purpose is served, or when they no longer get the reward or money, they go elsewhere leaving their old master in trouble. Adam is an exception in the modern cruel times. He represents the old world when persons were faithful and served for duty, nor for reward (though no doubt they received the reward). The lines are important for they throw light on the true character of Adam.

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