As You Like It
|ROSALIND||It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue;|
|but it is no more unhandsome than to see the lord|
|the prologue. If it be true that good wine needs|
|no bush, ’tis true that a good play needs no|
|epilogue; yet to good wine they do use good bushes,|
|and good plays prove the better by the help of good|
|epilogues. What a case am I in then, that am|
|neither a good epilogue nor cannot insinuate with|
|you in the behalf of a good play! I am not|
|furnished like a beggar, therefore to beg will not||10|
|become me: my way is to conjure you; and I’ll begin|
|with the women. I charge you, O women, for the love|
|you bear to men, to like as much of this play as|
|please you: and I charge you, O men, for the love|
|you bear to women–as I perceive by your simpering,|
|none of you hates them–that between you and the|
|women the play may please. If I were a woman I|
|would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased|
|me, complexions that liked me and breaths that I|
|defied not: and, I am sure, as many as have good||20|
|beards or good faces or sweet breaths will, for my|
|kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.|
Next: As You Like It, Scenes
Explanatory notes for the Epilogue
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
This was spoken by the boy, who was playing the part of Rosalind, in his own person directly to the audience.
Line 1. It … fashion: It was not the custom, in Shakespeare’s time, to assign the prologue to any of the actors.
2. unhandsome: improper.
3. good wine … bush: A proverb referring to the ancient custom of vintners of advertising their wares by hanging a tuft of ivy at their doors.
17. If … woman: All the actors on the Elizabethan stage, even those who played the parts of women, were men. [Please click here for more on this subject.]
18. liked: pleased.
19. defied: disliked.
22. bid me farewell: How will the audience bid farewell?