Compare and Contrast: Duke Senior and Duke Frederick

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      ‘The Dukes do not play a very important part in the central episodes of the comedy, As You Like It but they are not without distinctive features of their own. The Elder is a philosopher who finds books in the running brooks and sermons in stones, but hastens to take possession of his lost dukedom as soon as he gets it back, without casting a longing lingering look behind at the simple life he seemed to prize above princedom. The usurper is a ‘humorous man whose conduct is a succession of caprices, the last of which is the most unexpected, although most pleasant.’

      The Senior Duke is a dignified character. He is the symbol of nobility, and sweetness of disposition. He is an unworldly person, more interested in contemplation than in the conduct of the affairs. His younger brother Frederick is just contrary to him. He is the man of the world. He takes the advantage of the noble nature of his elder brother and usurps the throne and banishes him.

      The Senior Duke finds peace and happiness in Nature, in the forest which is far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife. His speech strikes the keynote of an ideal state of happiness; free from the haunts of feuds and ambition.

      Duke Frederick is more interesting to the audience. His capricious nature provides mirth to the readers; He is also practical and believes in action. Duke Senior is only ornamental. He does not do anything. Though he is a saint, he is of little interest to us. Good and bad are only ethical concern. What we require in drama is action and not goodness.

      “Duke Frederick shows the surprises and inconsistencies of human nature. He has gleams of a better nature as when he blames Oliver for thinking so harshly of his brother without cause. He is not the villain of the deepest dye.

      The elder brother Duke Senior is an ideal, the younger Duke Frederick is a realist, the elder believes in contemplation, the younger in action, the elder is a sage, the younger is a tyrant, the elder loves everyone, the younger suspects all, the elder respects everyone, the younger envies all, the elder finds books in the running brook and the younger is capricious and whimsical.

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