Plot Construction of The Play As You Like It

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      The plot of As You Like It, like that of Twelfth Night, contains absurdities which, under the warmth and gaiety of the play, we swallow light-heartedly enough. The plot is not original, though Shakespeare has treated it in such a way that it seems quite original.

Analysis of the Plot

      Let us now analyze the plot of the play As You Like It. The main plot of the play centers around the love-story of Orlando and Rosalind. But round this central plot are entwined three other love stories (a) the love episode of Celia and Oliver, (b) the love story of Phebe and Silvius and (c) the love story of Touchstone and Audrey. Shakespeare has introduced these sub-plots for comparing and contrasting with the main plot. They heighten and make credible the main plot. There are also two minor sub-plots (a) the story of Oliver’s wrong-doings to his brother, and (b) the story of the usurping Duke. Let us see how these sub-plots are related to the main plot.

      The play opens with two parallel actions prompted by avarice and greed. The rightful Duke is banished by the younger brother, Duke Frederick. In like manner, Orlando is ill-treated by his elder brother. These two parallel actions serve to bring the two lovers Rosalind and Orlando together. Orlando and Rosalind have fallen in love with each other at first sight. But both are banished, and both take shelter in the Forest of Arden. Celia goes into voluntary exile. These two cousins alongwith Touchstone leave for the forest Rosalind courts Orlando in the forest. The first scene of the third Act reveals how Duke Frederick condemns Oliver. Oliver is banished. And he too leaves for the forest. Shakespeare has thus sent Rosalind, Celia, Orlando and Oliver to the forest of Arden so that love may run there smoothly. But the course of true lover never runs smooth. They have to come across many obstacles, and have to cross them for reunion in love.

      The love story of Celia and Oliver runs almost parallel to that of Rosalind and Orlando. But the love of Rosalind and Orlando enkindles the finer spirit while the love affair between Celia and Oliver is a swift mutual passion.

      The love of Silvius and Phebe is the conventional love of the Elizabethan pastoral. The Phebe-Sihdus episode not only heightens the character of Rosalind but also adds beauty to the pastoral and woodland elements.

      The Love of Touchstone and Audrey serves as a contrast to the deep and sincere love of Rosalind and Orlando. It is base and stupid love and heightens by contrast the love of Rosalind and Orlando. This episode is amusing and relieves the seriousness of the main theme. It also serves a restraint to the extravagance of the romantic love. For an ex-courtier to marry a rustic girl is the feat of a practical philosopher, and a fair retort on Rosalind, She has made wit the vassal of love. Touchstone forces love itself into the service of wit Perhaps Shakespeare felt that Touchstone, who is quite out of place in the forest, needed some pursuit, some amusement to vary a life which bored him.

      These sub-plots also serve the purpose of introducing a variety of incidents and providing amusement. Touchstone and Audrey contribute a great deal to the comic element the play.

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