Duke Senior: Character Analysis in As You Like It

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      Duke Senior is the father of Rosalind and has been banished to the forest of Arden by his younger brother Duke Frederick. In the forest, he lives like the old Robin Hood of England. He is the friend of the unfortunate, a lover of Nature and simplicity, and an enemy to all flattery and false show. He borrows no dignity yet is always dignified and meets always with respect though he never enforces it.

      The exiled elder brother of Duke Frederick and father of Rosalind, Duke Senior serves as the benevolent patriarchal figure of the Forest of Arden. He utters the first lines in the forest as well as the rhyming couplet that closes the play. His introduction to the forest is essential in establishing the setting's superiority - "Are not these woods More free from peril than the envious court?" - while also addressing its drawbacks: "the icy fang And churlish chiding of the winter's wind..... these are counselors That feelingly persuade me what I am". That is, Duke Senior fairly delights even in the physical sensation of being cold, which makes him feel far more alive than did the "painted pomp" of the court.

Philosophic Calmness

      He bears misfortune and adversity with the calm of mind. The keynote of his character is contentment. He looks always on the bright side of things just as Jaques always sees the gloomy side. To him even adversity is sweet.

Which like the toad, ugly and venomous
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

He “can translate the stubbornness of fortune” into a state of peace and happiness. He can enjoy even melancholy fits of morose Jacques.


I love to cope him in these melancholy fits,
For then he's full of matter.


      There is didactic note in his nature. He like Wordsworth, can draw lesson from every object. He Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks. Sermons in stones and good in everything.

Beloved of All

      He has a charming personality. He is so good that all the men of his kingdom are attracted by him. Though he is no longer the king of state he remains the king of the hearts of the people. And he draws diem into his fold. He is already surrounded in the forest with “a many merry men,” and many young gentleman flock to him every day, and fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world.

His Gentleness

      His sweetness of disposition and gentleness wins love and ready obedience from all.....When Orlando rudely interrupts the peaceful forest banquet, his assumed violence vanishes before the gentle words of the Duke. Orlando begs pardon:

pardon me, I pray you.
I thought that all things had been savage here.

Believes in Contemplation Rather than in Action

      He never thinks of wreaking ervenge. He spends his time in meditation. He believes in contemplation rather than in action. It is his weakness as a ruler. And that is why his younger brother has taken advantage of his weakness.

His Return to Power

      When his brother is converted into a sage, he readily accepts the throne. He accepts the good fortune in the same philosophic spirit in which he left it. Now when he again has become the king he will extend his power to make others happy.

And after, every of this happy number
That have endured shrewd day’s and nights with us
Shall share the goods of our returned fortune.

Summing Up

      The Duke Senior is a true Christian. He believes in doing kindness to others and in forgiving the wrong doers. He looks with wiser and kindlier eyes. The enmity of Fortune is fairly disarmed by his patience. His soul is made storm-proof by gentleness. He has the grace to sweeten away the venom and to smile the sting out of evil. In his sweet company one feels the very luxury of rest;

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