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As You Like It

ACT I  SCENE IOrchard of Oliver’s house.
[Enter ORLANDO and ADAM]
ORLANDOAs I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion
bequeathed me by will but poor a thousand crowns,
and, as thou sayest, charged my brother, on his
blessing, to breed me well: and there begins my
sadness. My brother Jaques he keeps at school, and
report speaks goldenly of his profit: for my part,
he keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more
properly, stays me here at home unkept; for call you
that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that
differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses
are bred better; for, besides that they are fair10
with their feeding, they are taught their manage,
and to that end riders dearly hired: but I, his
brother, gain nothing under him but growth; for the
which his animals on his dunghills are as much
bound to him as I. Besides this nothing that he so
plentifully gives me, the something that nature gave
me his countenance seems to take from me: he lets
me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a
brother, and, as much as in him lies, mines my
gentility with my education. This is it, Adam, that
grieves me; and the spirit of my father, which I
think is within me, begins to mutiny against this
servitude: I will no longer endure it, though yet I
know no wise remedy how to avoid it.
ADAMYonder comes my master, your brother.
ORLANDOGo apart, Adam, and thou shalt hear how he will
shake me up.26
[Enter OLIVER]
OLIVERNow, sir! what make you here?
ORLANDONothing: I am not taught to make any thing.
OLIVERWhat mar you then, sir?29
ORLANDOMarry, sir, I am helping you to mar that which God
made, a poor unworthy brother of yours, with idleness.
OLIVERMarry, sir, be better employed, and be naught awhile.
ORLANDOShall I keep your hogs and eat husks with them?
What prodigal portion have I spent, that I should
come to such penury?36
OLIVERKnow you where your are, sir?
ORLANDOO, sir, very well; here in your orchard.
OLIVERKnow you before whom, sir?
ORLANDOAy, better than him I am before knows me. I know
you are my eldest brother; and, in the gentle
condition of blood, you should so know me. The
courtesy of nations allows you my better, in that
you are the first-born; but the same tradition
takes not away my blood, were there twenty brothers
betwixt us: I have as much of my father in me as
you; albeit, I confess, your coming before me is
nearer to his reverence.
OLIVERWhat, boy!
ORLANDOCome, come, elder brother, you are too young in this.50
OLIVERWilt thou lay hands on me, villain?
ORLANDOI am no villain; I am the youngest son of Sir
Rowland de Boys; he was my father, and he is thrice
a villain that says such a father begot villains.
Wert thou not my brother, I would not take this hand
from thy throat till this other had pulled out thy
tongue for saying so: thou hast railed on thyself.
ADAMSweet masters, be patient: for your father’s
remembrance, be at accord.
OLIVERLet me go, I say.60
ORLANDOI will not, till I please: you shall hear me. My
father charged you in his will to give me good
education: you have trained me like a peasant,
obscuring and hiding from me all gentleman-like
qualities. The spirit of my father grows strong in
me, and I will no longer endure it: therefore allow
me such exercises as may become a gentleman, or
give me the poor allottery my father left me by
testament; with that I will go buy my fortunes.69
OLIVERAnd what wilt thou do? beg, when that is spent?
Well, sir, get you in: I will not long be troubled
with you; you shall have some part of your will: I
pray you, leave me.
ORLANDOI will no further offend you than becomes me for my good.
OLIVERGet you with him, you old dog.
ADAMIs ‘old dog’ my reward? Most true, I have lost my
teeth in your service. God be with my old master!
he would not have spoke such a word.
[Exeunt ORLANDO and ADAM]
OLIVERIs it even so? begin you to grow upon me? I will
physic your rankness, and yet give no thousand
crowns neither. Holla, Dennis!
[Enter DENNIS]
DENNISCalls your worship?
OLIVERWas not Charles, the duke’s wrestler, here to speak with me?85
DENNISSo please you, he is here at the door and importunes
access to you.
OLIVERCall him in.
‘Twill be a good way; and to-morrow the wrestling is.
CHARLESGood morrow to your worship.
OLIVERGood Monsieur Charles, what’s the new news at the
new court?
CHARLESThere’s no news at the court, sir, but the old news:
that is, the old duke is banished by his younger
brother the new duke; and three or four loving lords
have put themselves into voluntary exile with him,
whose lands and revenues enrich the new duke;
therefore he gives them good leave to wander.
OLIVERCan you tell if Rosalind, the duke’s daughter, be
banished with her father?100
CHARLESO, no; for the duke’s daughter, her cousin, so loves
her, being ever from their cradles bred together,
that she would have followed her exile, or have died
to stay behind her. She is at the court, and no
less beloved of her uncle than his own daughter; and
never two ladies loved as they do.106
OLIVERWhere will the old duke live?
CHARLESThey say he is already in the forest of Arden, and
a many merry men with him; and there they live like
the old Robin Hood of England: they say many young
gentlemen flock to him every day, and fleet the time
carelessly, as they did in the golden world.
OLIVERWhat, you wrestle to-morrow before the new duke?114
CHARLESMarry, do I, sir; and I came to acquaint you with a
matter. I am given, sir, secretly to understand
that your younger brother Orlando hath a disposition
to come in disguised against me to try a fall.
To-morrow, sir, I wrestle for my credit; and he that
escapes me without some broken limb shall acquit him
well. Your brother is but young and tender; and,
for your love, I would be loath to foil him, as I
must, for my own honour, if he come in: therefore,
out of my love to you, I came hither to acquaint you
withal, that either you might stay him from his
intendment or brook such disgrace well as he shall
run into, in that it is a thing of his own search
and altogether against my will.127
OLIVERCharles, I thank thee for thy love to me, which
thou shalt find I will most kindly requite. I had
myself notice of my brother’s purpose herein and
have by underhand means laboured to dissuade him from
it, but he is resolute. I’ll tell thee, Charles:
it is the stubbornest young fellow of France, full
of ambition, an envious emulator of every man’s
good parts, a secret and villanous contriver against
me his natural brother: therefore use thy
discretion; I had as lief thou didst break his neck
as his finger. And thou wert best look to’t; for if
thou dost him any slight disgrace or if he do not
mightily grace himself on thee, he will practise
against thee by poison, entrap thee by some
treacherous device and never leave thee till he
hath ta’en thy life by some indirect means or other;
for, I assure thee, and almost with tears I speak
it, there is not one so young and so villanous this
day living. I speak but brotherly of him; but
should I anatomize him to thee as he is, I must
blush and weep and thou must look pale and wonder.146
CHARLESI am heartily glad I came hither to you. If he come
to-morrow, I’ll give him his payment: if ever he go
alone again, I’ll never wrestle for prize more: and
so God keep your worship!
OLIVERFarewell, good Charles.
Now will I stir this gamester: I hope I shall see
an end of him; for my soul, yet I know not why,
hates nothing more than he. Yet he’s gentle, never
schooled and yet learned, full of noble device, of
all sorts enchantingly beloved, and indeed so much155
in the heart of the world, and especially of my own
people, who best know him, that I am altogether
misprised: but it shall not be so long; this
wrestler shall clear all: nothing remains but that
I kindle the boy thither; which now I’ll go about.

Next: As You Like It, Act 1, Scene 2

Explanatory notes for Act 1, Scene 1
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

Dramatis Personae = persons of the drama; the cast.

The cast is printed according to rank and social position, with the women, also in order of rank, after the male characters. How does this compare with the arrangement of a program of a modern play?

Shakespeare at once gives a hint of the French setting by using a few French names in the cast. Jaques is a name found in England where it was pronounced as a monosyllable, Jakes, but the meter shows us that here it should be pronounced in two syllables, Ja/ques. The only other difficult names are Le Beau, Rosalind, and Audrey. [Please click here for a pronunciation guide.]

In an orchard, charming setting, Orlando, in his outburst to the sympathetic Adam, tells us of the circumstances which have led up to just this crisis in his affairs. Lodge pictures the deathbed scene of the father, but the playwright must use more economy than the novelist. From Charles we learn of Rosalind, the banishment and usurpation, so that we have the setting of the play clearly before us, and enough of the action to arouse our interest.

Line 1. upon this fashion: in this manner. Adam: Shakespeare is said to have played this part.

2. poor a thousand crowns: the adjective “poor” has no more influence on the order of the phrase than an adverb, such as “only,” would have. The “a” here is really a numeral, meaning “one,” so that the phrase, “a thousand,” is a compound numeral. crown: an English coin of silver, so called because of the crown stamped upon it. Its value in American money is about $1.21 [circa. 1922].

3. on his blessing: on pain of losing his blessing.

4. to breed: to bring up, to educate; as in our words, “well-bred,” “good breeding.”

6. My brother Jaques: Note that there are two characters of this name. This is the second son of Sir Rowland, who has been sent away to the University. goldenly: in praise of. Cf. “golden opinions.”

6. rustically: like a person in the country; without education or training. Remember that we use rustic in that sense.

7. stays: keeps. Note “stay him” in line 124 of this scene.

9. stalling: the way an ox is kept in his stall. Notice the consistent way in which Orlando uses the language of the care of animals during this passage. Has he any reason for doing this?

11. taught their manage: trained.

14. Besides … from me: Note the contrast between “nothing” and “something.” Orlando is now at the height of his scorn. countenance: behavior. Paraphrase this sentence.

17. hinds: lowest servants.

18. mines … education: undermines my real nature by my lack of training.

26. shake me up: perhaps this is slang like the modern phrase “call me down.”

Enter Oliver. Notice the preparation for this in Adam’s speech, line 24. In Shakespeare no one enters or exits without a reason. Do you see any difference in the modern farces?

27. make: do. Follow the word through the next six lines and observe the play of words upon it, as in “mar” and “marry.”

29. mar: spoil.

30. marry: as an expletive from the name of the Virgin Mary. It means “indeed” and expresses surprise.

32. naught: be as nothing; therefore, take yourself off. A common oath of the time which might be compared to “be hanged to you.”

34. Shall I … penury? How far does Orlando carry the story of the Prodigal Son? Look it up in Luke xv. How common is this story in literature?

36. penury: poverty.

39. As Oliver grows angry and more insolent, Orlando becomes cooler.

40. him: “him” is often found for “he.” Here it may take its case from whom, which is understood.

41. in … blood: gentle is in this sense used of good birth; therefore “as well born brothers should.”

42. The courtesy of nations: as universal custom demands.

46. albeit: old form for “although.”

47. nearer to his reverence: you are the elder and therefore entitled to the respect due him.

48. what, boy! Orlando has been speaking with unwonted boldness; Oliver is very angry, and accompanies his words what, boy with a threatening gesture. Doubtless he shakes his fist in Orlando’s face. But Orlando shows fight, advances upon his enemy, and collars him. When Orlando in his next speech says, you are too young in this, the word this refers to the overtures of violence with which Oliver accompanied his words, what, boy.

49. Come … this: Oliver has, of course, been accustomed to call Orlando “boy.” But the latter has been growing up to manhood, has become conscious of his strength, and now asserts himself both in word and deed. In what tone, therefore, does he address Oliver as elder brother?

68. for … remembrance: for your father’s sake.

67. allottery: share. Occurs nowhere else in Shakespeare.

68. testament: by his will.

71. get you in: leave me.

80. Picture Oliver as he is left alone after this revolt of his younger brother. Is there a pause here? He is in a rage and naturally thinks of revenge. How does Lodge differ in the whole scene between the brothers? grow upon me: get control of me.

81. physic your rankness: stop the growth of your insolence. Note that rankness continues the metaphor of … neither. In early English two negatives strengthened the negative idea.

82. Holla: Come here.

86. importunes access: begs earnestly to see you.

91. Monsieur: the French title of respect.

108. the forest of Arden: The Forest of Ardennes is in the northeastern part of France between the Meuse and the Moselle. There is also a Forest of Arden in Warwickshire. As the scene of Lodge’s novel is laid in France, Shakespeare probably took this setting, although, as his mother’s name was Arden, the name may very well have been dear to him. In all probability he troubled himself very little as to actual location, but took the forest, palm-trees, lions, and all, directly from Lodge for his people to “fleet the time carelessly.”

110. old Robin Hood of England: A beautiful simile this. Who was Robin Hood?

111. fleet the time: make time pass.

112. golden world: The Golden Age; that is the state of innocence found in Paradise.

117. hath a disposition: has made up his mind.

118. try a fall: language of wrestling.

122. loath … him: I should hesitate to defeat him.

124. withal: with the whole matter. stay him … disgrace: keep him from his purpose or endure his disgrace. Charles does not seem to be lacking in frankness.

129. requite: reward.

130. by underhand means: by indirect means, since Orlando is obstinate.

132. it is: Note the scorn in the use of the pronoun “it.”

133. emulator: envious rival; used here in a bad sense.

136. natural: by birth.

137. to ‘t: Shakespeare uses the contraction constantly. Note “ta’en” farther on in this speech. How much do we use contractions and when?

138. disgrace … grace: Note play upon words. grace himself on thee: honor himself at your expense.

144. anatomize: literally to dissect; here lay bare completely.

147. Is Charles completely deceived?

148. go alone: work without help.

162. gamester: one who is ready for a game; therefore, a lively fellow.

166. noble device: lofty ideals.

168. misprised: undervalued.

160. kindle: incite. Cf. “aflame.” thither: thereto. Why is this so beautiful a passage?


1. Picture the scene.

2. What have Orlando and Adam been talking about before they enter?

3. What is Shakespeare’s purpose in this opening speech?

4. How old are Orlando and Adam?

5. Which does Orlando feel the need of more, money or education?

6. Where does the action become very lively? Explain just how it came about.

7. How long a time has it taken Orlando to reach this point of revolt?

8. Adam makes three speeches in this scene. What do you know about him when he goes out?

9. How are the main characters introduced to us?

10. What do you learn from the conversation between Oliver and Charles as to the conditions at the court?

11. Is there anything to be said in Oliver’s favor?

12. How much of the plot has this scene revealed?

13. What passages have you especially liked?


How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Eds. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.