Aspects of Time in As You Like It

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      Time is also contrasted in the court scenes and in the Forest of Arden. At court, time is referred to in specific terms, marked by definite intervals, in most cases in relation to the duke's threats: he orders Rosalind to leave the court within ten days or she will be executed, and he gives Oliver one year to find Orlando or else his land and possessions will be confiscated. In Arden, however, the meaning of time is less precise. In his first meeting with Jaques, Touchstone provides a slightly whimsical rumination on time; he seems to be remarking on his sense that he is simply rotting away in the uneventful forest. Jaques later offers a disheartened perception of how time passes predictably for all men, as his "Seven Ages of Man" speech illustrates the individual's passage through life in predetermined stages, ending with the image of man as a pathetically ineffectual and dependent creature.

      When Rosalind, posing as Ganymede, first addresses Orlando, she asks him, "what is 't o'clock?", and his response is especially meaningful: "You should ask me, what time o' day. There's no clock in the forest. Indeed, time in Arden is measured "in divers paces with divers persons, as Rosalind subsequently instructs Orlando; the lover's constant sighing and groaning, she contends, ought to be as regular as clockwork, while a young maid, a priest, and a thief would all feel time's passage uniquely. Later on, Rosalind lectures Orlando for not being more punctual, because a true lover would not lose a single moment that he could be spending with his beloved. In general, the sense that time is a subjective, not an objective, quality enhances Arden's mythical and romantic aspects.

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