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As You Like It

ROSALINDIt 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 not10
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 good20
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?