Duke Frederick: Character Analysis in As You Like It

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      Frederick is Duke Senior's younger brother and usurper of his throne. He is also Celia's father and Rosalind's uncle. Duke Frederick is a fairly one-dimensional villain throughout most of the play; his base nature is aptly summed up by Le Beau: "this Duke Hath ta'en displeasure 'gainst his gentle niece, Grounded upon no other argument, but that the people praise her for her virtues and pity her for her good father's sake". Reflecting his irrelevant status as a character, he does not even make an appearance after being converted by an "old religious man" in the forest.

A Tyrant?

      Duke Frederick rules by fear and is a despot. Even his daughter thinks that he is harsh and envious. He is actuated by gloomy fancies, by suspicion, mistrust and covetousness. He has regarded his courtiers with suspicion. Though he is tyrant, he is not cruel. He has a sense of honor. He encourages a cruel form of wrestling, but he is not cruel. He even persuades Orlando from encountering the court wrestler.

      In pity of the challenger's youth, I would fain dissuade him, but he will not be entreated. Speak to him, ladies: see if you can move him.

      Keeping in consideration the fact that Duke Frederick lived in cruel time, he is even kind. He could even kill Orlando who was the son of his enemy. But he possesses good sense and honor.


      Duke Frederick is humorous’. He has been very kind to Rosalind. But suddenly his malice breaks forth because she is her father’s daughter. The Duke enters with his eyes full of anger; banishes Rosalind, and gives the reason.

"Thou art thy father's daughter; there enough."

He is Suspicious and Envious

He does not trust Rosalind
Let it suffice thee that I trust thee not

      Duke Frederick suspects first some villain of the court, and then Oliver, of being privy to the flight of Orlando with his niece and daughter. He does not listen to any protestation of innocence. He is so envious of his brother that he wants to take his life.

Duke Frederick, hearing how that every day
Men of great worth resorted to the forest,
Address'd a mighty power: which were on foot
In his own conduct, purposely to take
His brother here and put him to the sword.

His Conversion

      Duke Frederick has some noble feelings which have been warped by ambition and greed. But as soon as he meets an old religious man, his noble qualities come out. His conversion, however, is sudden, and does not convince us.

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