Edward's Reviews > As You Like It

As You Like It by William Shakespeare
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Jun 21, 2011

it was amazing
Read in June, 2011

It may be just a passing enthusiasm, but I found on this reading of AS YOU LIKE IT that it's one of Shakespeare's best efforts, with echoes of many other plays. Its setting, for example,The Forest of Arden is not a part of society but yet not totally detached from its turmoils either. It reminds you of the woods of MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM's, Prospero's island in THE TEMPEST, and even in its darker moments of folly, the blasted heath of KING LEAR.
This play balances optimism and pessimism, giving both their due, and it's hard to tell which side it comes down on. Jacques, of course, is the eternal doomsayer, his bleak outlook culminating in his "seven ages of man" speech where humans come to a pointless end of "mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything." What can Samuel Beckett add to that?
But on the other hand, there is the eternal optimism of the lovers, staking their hopes on Hymen, the Greek god of weddings and bridal hymns. It's a world of promises and faith in one another. Is it permanent, or as a song in the play puts it, only a "pretty ring time of a lover and his lass . . . where life is but a flower in the spring time"? The play ends - the lovers proceeding with marriage rites, but Jacques having no part of this "pasttime". He is off to an cave where a a religious hermit lived, one (significantly, no doubt) that's been "abandoned."
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