Shakespeare Explained: Quick Questions on As You Like ItACT I — SCENE I
1. Why do people find Orlando attractive?
Because he is young, brave, sweet tempered, and ill treated.
2. Are you interested in Rosalind and Celia?
What Charles says of them in Scene i, lines 112-118 interests an audience at once. The naturalness of their conversation in Scene ii adds to that interest.
3. What points in Rosalind's character are brought out in Scene iii?
Her ready wit in the first 42 lines; her brave, calm, womanly dignity in the next 80 lines; and her youthful high spirits in the last 25 lines.
4. What purpose does Scene i serve?
It shows the banished Duke; develops his character; rouses interest in him and his fortunes.
5. Why is the last part of this act (beginning with Scene iv) so broken up?
The audience must see the fugitives on their way to the Forest of Arden and must also see the life to which they are going. In order to do this the short scenes were necessary.
6. What are your first impressions of Jaques?
Perhaps you find this strange man interesting; perhaps he repels you. To many who know him well he is a delight. They find his egotism, his melancholy, his bored attitude toward everything, his satire, delightful.
7. Practically everybody knows one of the speeches in Scene vii. Find it.
Lines 139-166 [All the world's a stage...].
8. Why does it make such an impression?
Because of the poetic way in which the truthful observation is presented.
9. Pick out the things you particularly like in Scene ii.
The passages chosen will be determined by the clearness with which the action is visualized. The action here must be seen.
10. Do you think it reasonable that Orlando should not recognize Rosalind?
Yes. He has been in her company but for a few moments; he has left her safe in her uncle's home; he has no reason to suspect her banishment.
11. What are the differences between Audrey, Phoebe, Silvius and Rosalind and Celia?
Audrey, Phoebe, and Silvius are unlettered country people while Rosalind and Celia are from the Court, and have the refinement that Court-life would give.
12. How has Shakespeare made these differences clear?
By the way in which they speak; the country folk are blunt and outspoken. Rosalind and Celia conceal their real thoughts and feelings, only giving the audience hints. The differences are more clearly marked when the characters are seen on the stage, by costume and actions.
13. Does this first scene seem natural?
[Answers will vary.]
14. In what spirit should it be played?
If the spirit of fun and make-believe which Rosalind and Orlando have adopted is accepted by the reader this scene seems natural.
15. Would Orlando's rescue of his brother have been more interesting had it been shown on the stage?
No. Such a scene could not be staged. Snakes and lions could not play the parts; imitations would be laughable. Ghastly, revolting scenes are generally given in the form of narrations.
16. Does Oliver guess Rosalind's sex when she swoons?
Some critics think he does, others think he does not. See Act V, Scene ii, lines 21-22.
17. Why doesn't Rosalind reveal her identity to her father sooner?
Because she has been too much interested in her own affairs.
18. Are you prepared for the conversion of Duke Frederick?
19. Does it seem more or less reasonable than the reformation of Oliver?
It seems less reasonable.
20. Is the final decision of Jaques to remain in the forest appropriate to his character?
He has seen the world and cares no more for it; he delights in idle speculation and thought, yet his thought leads to nothing. He is an excellent example of "an utterly useless yet perfectly harmless man." One critic says, "Jaques has too much prudence to leave his retirement."
22. In the epilogue why does Rosalind say, "If I were a woman . . . "?
Because the part of Rosalind was played by a boy. All female parts were played by boys until the Restoration; women did not appear on the stage until 1660.
23. What makes this one of the most popular of Shakespeare's plays?
Because of the delightful characters; the fresh, sprightly dialogue; the natural and pleasant story.