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on March 27, 2002
Whew...this story has an even faster plot turn about than Austen's Pride and Prejudice. If one is not careful, you--like me, may suffer "plausibility whiplash." That said, As You Like It is a delightful example of Shakespearean comedy. Jaques is one of my favorites from Shakespeare's stable of characters. Things get renewed, folks get married, fortunes are restored. Good Stuff. I must also mention how much I like these Signet Classic Shakespeare texts. They are darn fine (good intros, critical pieces, and source info) and dirt cheap.
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As You Like It has many qualities to attract readers and audiences. Rosalind is one of the great heroines of all romantic literature. The play has more outstanding speeches than almost any other that has ever been written. Astonishing plot complications are quickly resolved in the simplest possible way, reflecting a playwright's tour de force. The Forest of Arden appears as a character in creating a magical atmosphere whereby all perceptions change, and all are healed. Right wins out, especially in drawing on good character . . . even from formerly badly behaving people. And for those who love marriages, this book has one of the most impressive ceremonies of all time in literature. Humans have never looked nobler in the end than in this play. Yet the play also abounds with some of the greatest lines of Shakespeare's fools that cause all of us to see that humility is more called for than pride or ambition. Certainly, As You Like It will make you feel the presence of an unmatched genius, that should inspire even the most arrogant to feel humbled in the Bard's presence.
My recommendation is that you first see a performance (whether in person, or on a recording). If that's not possible, try for an audio. Many outstanding actors have been taped. After you have the sights and sounds of the play firmly in mind, then read the play. You'll find that your earlier experiences will unlock more of the play's depths, imagery and pleasures for you.
Where in life is being true to your word very important? How can you improve your life by being more reliable in this way?
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on May 2, 2000
As You Like It boasts one of Shakespeare's most vivid, romantic, and just plain fun heroines, Rosalind. She breaks all the rules and then makes up her own; she fools her true love into wooing her while he is absolutely unaware of who she is.
Then there's Jaques. Melancholy, cynical, yet hysterical in his own way; pay special attention to his "All the world's a stage" speech at the end of Act III. And don't forget Touchstone, the fool...
I don't want to give the plot away. There are so many surprises, so many unexpected twists-- this is one of Shakespeare's more complicated (if not deeper) plays. If at all possible, try to see at least one performance of it. The one I most recently saw had the entire audience in stitches from the first act to the final, multiple weddings and all.
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on July 5, 2001
'As you like it' is one of those Shakespearean plays that is considered 'great' by critics, but never really found true popular acclaim, perhaps due to the absence of charismatic characters (the romantic hero is particularly wet) or compelling dilemmas.
It shares many features with the great comedies - the notion of the forest as a magic or transformative space away from tyrannical society ('A Midsummer night's dream'); the theme of unrequited love and gender switching from 'Twelfth night'; the exiled Duke and his playful daughter from 'The Tempest'. But these comparisons only point to 'AYLI''s comparative failure (as a reading experience anyway) - it lacks the magical sense of play of the first; the yearning melancholy of the second; or the elegiac complexity of the third.
It starts off brilliantly with a first act dominated by tyrants: an heir who neglects his younger brother, and a Duke who resents the popularity of his exiled brother's daughter (Rosalind). there is an eccentric wrestling sequence in which a callow youth (Orlando) overthrows a giant. Then the good characters are exiled to Arden searching for relatives and loved ones.
Theoretically, this should be good fun, and you can see why post-modernist critics enjoy it, with its courtiers arriving to civilise the forest in the language of contemporary explorers, and the gender fluidity and role-play; but, in truth, plot is minimal, with tiresomely pedantic 'wit' to the fore, especially when the melancholy scholar-courtier Jacques and Fool Touchstone are around, with the latter's travesties of classical learning presumably hilarious if you're an expert on Theocritus and the like.
As an English pastoral, 'AYLI' doesn't approach Sidney's 'Arcadia' - maybe it soars on stage. (Latham's Arden edition is as frustrating as ever, with scholarly cavilling creating a stumbling read, and an introduction which characteristically neuters everything that makes Shakespeare so exciting and challenging)
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Out of all the great Shakespeare's plays, "As You Like It" is undoubtedly... the fluffiest. This is cotton candy. Fortunately, cotton candy isn't too bad as long as you don't eat too much of it. And while the ending is excessively tidy, "As You Like It" is a charming little play with the full array of Shakespearean tropes -- transvestitism, love triangles, and mass confusion.

Backstory: The cruel Duke has deposed his far nicer brother, and the ex-Duke has run off into the Forest of Arden. At the same time, a young man named Orlando has been cast out by his cruel brother Oliver.

Then the Duke decides to exile his niece Rosalind, despite the pleas of his daughter Celia. So Rosalind (disguised as a boy), Celia and the jester Touchstone run away into the Forest of Arden the following night, and soon encounter the exiled Duke and his followers. So does Orlando and his faithful servant Adam.

Because of a previous meeting, Rosalind and Orlando are already in love. But not only does he not recognize her, but because she's disguised as a boy she's attracted the amorous intentions of a local shepherdess. And to make matters even more complex, Touchstone is in a love triangle of his own, and Oliver has stumbled into Arden as well. Is everything going to end well?

The biggest problem with "As You Like It" is the fact that the ending is just a little too tidy -- while it's plausible that the romantic tangles would be smoothed out, there's an conveniently-timed twist that stretches believability to the point of snapping. Fortunately, the rest of it is a pleasantly fluffy little story filled with Shakespeare's sparkliest, sunniest storytelling.

Shakespeare's plot floats along in a heady cloud of sunlit forests, poems pinned to trees and languid outlaws who hang around singing all day. His lines are filled with clever, sometimes bawdy jokes ("praised be the gods for thy foulness! sluttishness may come hereafter") and some nicely evocative imagery ("Between the pale complexion of true love/And the red glow of scorn and proud disdain").

The funniest parts involve the love quadrangle between Rosalind, Phebe, Orlando and Silvius, as well as Orlando's wretched poetry and Touchstone's mockery of them ("Winter garments must be lined,/So must slender Rosalind").

And it has a likable cast of characters, most of whom are amiable and likable (although I'm still not sure why Orlando and the ex-Duke don't recognize Rosalind!). Celia and Rosalind are fun and sprightly heroines, Orlando is an endearing underdog (if a rotten poet), and there's also the sharp-tongued Touchstone, dour Jacques, and the rather beyotchy Phebe.

"As You Like It" is a puffy little wisp of a play, compared to Shakespeare's other works -- but it's still a nice little romantic diversion. Think of it as an Elizabethan romantic comedy.
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on January 8, 2002
As all the other comedies of Shakespeare, As You Like It has the same witty exchange of insults between the men, and prolonged talk of nonsense between the women. But despite the many similarities of them all, the complex story line of As You Like It sends everyone on a wild roller coaster ride of bumps, turns, and drop-offs. You never know what to expect. Will Duke Senior spend the rest of his life in misery? Will Orlando except Rosalind's ornate show of affection?

I believe this is truly one of Shakespeare's best because through the life-threatening situation posed by the Duke, such love and romance is produced between his victims and such joy and laughter is shared along the way.

One can hardly realize the danger at hand while getting lost in the ingenious juggling of metaphors, and poetic verses along the way. The young and innocent thoughts of love spring forth from the mouths of Celia and Rosalind. Jacques speaks nothing but educated disdain of this world. And while Orlando's mind should be filled fear and hate, he is distracted by immense joy and infatuation, causing a mix of emotion show on his lips. It is in this story where these three tones collide and interweave to create a mountain of sophisticated dialogue over nothing of any sense.
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on March 24, 1998
Suggested by my Shakespeare coach for its comprehensiveness, this book does not disappoint. Covering the issues of text and context, its all here. If anyone reading this knows where to find used copies of the other plays, or even what there exact titles are, please e-mail me the info.
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on June 6, 2000
This book by william shakespeare, as you like it, was a truely remarkable act. it's funny, relaxed, interesting and understandable. Many teens wouldn't like to read any ordinary book, but I recommend this book to all that fits that catagory.
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on November 5, 2013
This was super thin so it just came in an envelope and I didn't have to go to the post office to pick it up! It came really fast (I live in Canada) and was pretty much just what I expected.
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