As You Like It by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare's As You Like It, is a comedy thought to have been written in 1599. It follows the story of Rosalind, a heroine fleeing persecution. The play contains some of Shakespeare's most famous and well-known lines, many spoken by a character she meets in the Forest of Arden, Jacque.

Jacque's character is in distinct contrast to the others in the play, memorable for his critical and observant eye. His speech beginning "All the world's a stage," is arguably one of Shakespeare's most famous. As You Like It, however, has had to endure its due amount of criticism, with some historians finding it to be not up to Shakespeare's writing standards, while others believe it is one of his best works.

The play begins in France but quickly shifts as the action moves to the Forest of Arden. The true location for this is believed to be based on the Ardennes, a heavily forested region that spans Belgium, Germany, and France.

The throne has been usurped by Duke Frederick, Duke Senior's younger brother and Rosalind's uncle. Frederick has allowed Rosalind to remain at court only because of her friendship with his one daughter, Celia.

Rosalind's admirer Orlando, has fallen in love with her at first sight. He too has been a victim of persecution, having been persecuted and driven out of his home by his older brother Oliver. When Frederick becomes upset with Rosalind and bans her from the court, his daughter Celia decides to escape with Rosalind. They create disguises, with Rosalind disguised as a young man named Ganymede, and Celia pretending to be a poor woman named Aliena.

When the two women arrive in the forest they encounter the exiled Duke, who lives amongst some of his supporters. The most troubled and honest of these is Jacque, described as melancholy, and introduced in tears as he sobs over the pain that his own slaughter of a deer has caused him. The two cousins, still in disguise, find a cottage that though it seems crude, will serve their needs. They offer to buy it from its tenant Corin.

Meanwhile, Orlando along with his servant Adam, find that the Duke's men are leaving love poems for Rosalind in the trees. Rosalind is in love with Orlando, and meets him as her male alter-ego Ganymede. Ganymede tries to give Orlando some consolation in his love affairs, even going so far as to say that he will act for Rosalind and that they can try out their relationship together.

The guide Phoebe has fallen in love with Ganymede, despite Ganymede's repeated attempts to show that he (still Rosalind in disguise) is uninterested. More love matches are afoot as Touchstone falls in love with the other shepherdess Audrey. She is popular and also coveted by shepherd William, who tries to marry her first but is thwarted by Touchstone's violent threats.

When all the characters finally end up together in the same situation a massive argument ensues with their complicated love affairs causing confusion about who will end up with whom. Ganymede proclaims that he will solve the problem, ordering Orlando to marry Rosalind and Phoebe to marry Silvius.

Orlando sees his brother Oliver in the forest being hunted by a lioness and saves him, causing the two brothers to reunite. All other parties are married in the final scene of the play in which it is also revealed that Frederick has asked forgiven for his faults and restored his legitimate brother to the throne. The well-spoken Jacque is invited back to the kingdom but decides to spend his days in melancholy isolation.