Explanatory notes for Act 1, Scene 2
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
The scene shifts to the Duke's palace, still out-of-doors, and we welcome the heroine with her cousin. As is fitting the Duke's daughter, Celia, takes the lead and comforts Rosalind, who is not so happy as she naturally is. Touchstone arrives to enliven a scene which has become somewhat merry, and the wrestling match presents plenty of action. The scene closes with the
seed of love already sown.
Line 1. Rosalind: the name is taken directly from Lodge. coz: an abbreviation for cousin.
6. learn: here used as "teach" as always in Shakespeare
when the object is expressed.
8. so: provided that.
11. so ... tempered: so properly composed, as in "to
13. condition of my estate: my position in life. We first see
Rosalind depressed because of conditions surrounding her as we
do Portia in "Merchant of Venice." Note how quickly each
is diverted to her natural mood of gayety.
18. perforce: by force. render: return to. Celia here
is the leader, but she soon becomes the follower.
22. sports: the frivolous tone of this word is punished before
the scene is over, when Rosalind really falls in love.
24. prithee: pray thee. withal: here the preposition with and very emphatic. Double negatives abound in this passage which shows how emphatic Celia means to be.
29. good ... wheel: Look up the pronunciation of housewife. Fortune's wheel symbolizes her inconstant varied nature.
36. honest: virtuous.
40. lineaments: features. The two girls are accustomed to
this exchange of comment on life as they have seen it. As the
fool approaches across the green, they carry on the argument
lightly, showing their own wit as they comment on that of others.
Enter Touchstone. This was Shakespeare's first attempt at
a real jester. How would he be dressed? What is his manner?
Watch him as the play develops.
46. natural: idiot. How does Celia play upon this word?
51. whetstone: sharpener.
52. How now ... you? An allusion to an old saying or
song, "Wit, whither wilt?"
56. by mine honor: quite evidently an oath of the time.
61. naught: here bad. This scene is a lively one with much
amusing action. Try to describe it vividly.
79. taxation: satire. Why does Celia suddenly change her
82. By my troth: a very common oath with many variations.
Troth really means truth. Note our common saying, "to tell
83. silenced: This may refer to some restrictions of the time
placed upon players.
Enter Le Beau. The name and Celia's greeting remind us
that the scene is set in France. Poor Le Beau is the stiffest and
most ceremonious of courtiers. His very dignity seems to encourage anything but dignity in the other three people.
92. Bon jour: good day.
96. color: kind. Later in Act III we find it used again,
"cattle of this color."
99. Destinies: Fates. This and the preceding speech might
well be sung.
100. laid on with a trowel: clumsily said.
101. Remember that Rosalind's vulgarity was very common
at the time.
117. bills: the bill, whether weapon of warfare or utensil of
wood-craft, was carried "on the neck." This was the standard
expression, as we say "on the shoulder." To get a notion of
bills on their necks in the other sense, perhaps you had better
imagine men as you may have seen them, bearing on their necks
134. broken music: part music arranged for different instruments. It is rather hard for us to appreciate Rosalind's wit
here. dotes: delights in. Rosalind and Celia do not enjoy
the reported contest. Let us watch them through the one given
to us on the stage.
Enter Duke Frederick. We look at the usurper with some
interest as he takes his place to view the contest. Already we
have learned some things not to his credit and we desire some
proof. The scene is full of animation and color, as well as action
147. How now: What now? cousin: used for niece here
as often in Shakespeare.
149. Rosalind seems willing to stay. Why?
162. fain: be glad to.
167-168. Celia says many more words than she needs to.
Try to put it more briefly.
173. our suit: our petition.
174. might: may.
179. foiled: defeated. This little scene between Orlando and
the two girls is Shakespeare's own and serves to arouse our sympathy. Never does Orlando appear more manly than here when
he seems so absolutely without appreciation of himself. What
opportunity for the actor do you see here?
187. eke: help out hers.
191. Charles's call comes as a very rude interruption to a
199. an: probably and.
200. come your ways: come on.
201. Hercules: Why does Rosalind call upon this hero?
202. Note Celia's idea of good sport.
209. well breathed: well started.
210. The wrestler was killed in Lodge. Why does Shakespeare change?
218. still: always.
224-226. Orlando is now meditating as he stands a little
apart from the girls, who are talking of the attitude of Duke
226. calling: name.
234. sticks me at heart: stabs me to the heart.
238. out of stuts: out of favor. As Rosalind gives the chain,
she waits for some word of thanks, but with the words, "shall
we go, coz?" she turns shyly away, somewhat abashed.
241. Poor Orlando is tongue-tied.
243. quintain: a wooden image. A quintain was a post with
revolving arms.... The object
of the tilter was to hit one arm without being struck by the other.
245. Picture the glances and actions of the two, who are good
examples of characters falling in love at first sight, of whom Shakespeare has many.
248. Have with you: Come on.
262. or — or: either — or.
Re-enter Le Beau. Here Shakespeare differs again from the
novel in which the king embraced Rosader when he knew him
to be the youngest son of Sir John. The playwright thus prepares us for the exile of Orlando as well as of Rosalind, and later
that of Oliver. Le Beau is still the essence of courtly formality, but do we find him a bit more human at the end of this
267. misconstrues: misunderstands. Pronounced properly
and at the same time suited to this rhythm.
268. humorous: full of moods, even dangerous.
261. Orlando finds out what he wants to know without betraying himself.
264. lesser: smaller. This is a hint for the observant reader.
The whole speech prepares us for what is to follow.
276. in a better world: in a better state of affairs.
279. from ... smother: from the frying pan into the fire.
1. This is a charming scene. Describe the setting.
2. From the opening conversation what do you learn of conditions at court?
3. Describe the two girls. Which of the two is leader here?
4. What does Touchstone add to the scene? Why introduced?
5. Why do the girls make fun of Le Beau? Do you respect
him at any time in the scene?
6. Describe in detail the wrestling-match, not forgetting
the positions of the different persons on the stage.
7. What foreshadowing is found here?
8. What do we want to know at the end of the scene?
9. What characteristics of Rosalind, Celia, and Orlando have
been brought out?
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Eds. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/asu_1_2.html >.