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As You Like It

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ACT II  SCENE VII The Forest. 
[ A table set out. Enter DUKE SENIOR, AMIENS, and Lords like outlaws ]
DUKE SENIORI think he be transform'd into a beast;
For I can no where find him like a man.
First LordMy lord, he is but even now gone hence:
Here was he merry, hearing of a song.
DUKE SENIORIf he, compact of jars, grow musical,
We shall have shortly discord in the spheres.
Go, seek him: tell him I would speak with him.
[Enter JAQUES]
First LordHe saves my labour by his own approach.
DUKE SENIORWhy, how now, monsieur! what a life is this,
That your poor friends must woo your company?10
What, you look merrily!
JAQUESA fool, a fool! I met a fool i' the forest,
A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool
Who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun,
And rail'd on Lady Fortune in good terms,
In good set terms and yet a motley fool.
'Good morrow, fool,' quoth I. 'No, sir,' quoth he,
'Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me fortune:'
And then he drew a dial from his poke,20
And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye,
Says very wisely, 'It is ten o'clock:
Thus we may see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags:
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.' When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,30
That fools should be so deep-contemplative,
And I did laugh sans intermission
An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.
DUKE SENIORWhat fool is this?
JAQUESO worthy fool! One that hath been a courtier,
And says, if ladies be but young and fair,
They have the gift to know it: and in his brain,
Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
After a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd40
With observation, the which he vents
In mangled forms. O that I were a fool!
I am ambitious for a motley coat.
DUKE SENIORThou shalt have one.
JAQUESIt is my only suit;
Provided that you weed your better judgments
Of all opinion that grows rank in them
That I am wise. I must have liberty
Withal, as large a charter as the wind,
To blow on whom I please; for so fools have;
And they that are most galled with my folly,50
They most must laugh. And why, sir, must they so?
The 'why' is plain as way to parish church:
He that a fool doth very wisely hit
Doth very foolishly, although he smart,
Not to seem senseless of the bob: if not,
The wise man's folly is anatomized
Even by the squandering glances of the fool.
Invest me in my motley; give me leave
To speak my mind, and I will through and through
Cleanse the foul body of the infected world,60
If they will patiently receive my medicine.
DUKE SENIORFie on thee! I can tell what thou wouldst do.
JAQUESWhat, for a counter, would I do but good?
DUKE SENIORMost mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin:
For thou thyself hast been a libertine,
As sensual as the brutish sting itself;
And all the embossed sores and headed evils,
That thou with licence of free foot hast caught,

Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.
JAQUESWhy, who cries out on pride,70
That can therein tax any private party?
Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea,
Till that the weary very means do ebb?
What woman in the city do I name,
When that I say the city-woman bears
The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders?
Who can come in and say that I mean her,
When such a one as she such is her neighbour?
Or what is he of basest function
That says his bravery is not of my cost,80
Thinking that I mean him, but therein suits
His folly to the mettle of my speech?
There then; how then? what then? Let me see wherein
My tongue hath wrong'd him: if it do him right,
Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free,
Why then my taxing like a wild-goose flies,
Unclaim'd of any man. But who comes here?
[Enter ORLANDO, with his sword drawn]
ORLANDOForbear, and eat no more.
JAQUESWhy, I have eat none yet.
ORLANDONor shalt not, till necessity be served.
JAQUESOf what kind should this cock come of?90
DUKE SENIORArt thou thus bolden'd, man, by thy distress,
Or else a rude despiser of good manners,
That in civility thou seem'st so empty?
ORLANDOYou touch'd my vein at first: the thorny point
Of bare distress hath ta'en from me the show
Of smooth civility: yet am I inland bred
And know some nurture. But forbear, I say:
He dies that touches any of this fruit
Till I and my affairs are answered.
JAQUESAn you will not be answered with reason, I must die.100
DUKE SENIORWhat would you have? Your gentleness shall force
More than your force move us to gentleness.
ORLANDOI almost die for food; and let me have it.
DUKE SENIORSit down and feed, and welcome to our table.
ORLANDOSpeak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you:
I thought that all things had been savage here;
And therefore put I on the countenance
Of stern commandment. But whate'er you are
That in this desert inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,110
Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time
If ever you have look'd on better days,
If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church,
If ever sat at any good man's feast,
If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear
And know what 'tis to pity and be pitied,
Let gentleness my strong enforcement be:
In the which hope I blush, and hide my sword.
DUKE SENIORTrue is it that we have seen better days,
And have with holy bell been knoll'd to church120
And sat at good men's feasts and wiped our eyes
Of drops that sacred pity hath engender'd:
And therefore sit you down in gentleness
And take upon command what help we have
That to your wanting may be minister'd.
ORLANDOThen but forbear your food a little while,
Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn
And give it food. There is an old poor man,
Who after me hath many a weary step
Limp'd in pure love: till he be first sufficed,130
Oppress'd with two weak evils, age and hunger,
I will not touch a bit.
DUKE SENIORGo find him out,
And we will nothing waste till you return.
ORLANDOI thank ye; and be blest for your good comfort!
DUKE SENIORThou seest we are not all alone unhappy:
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in.
JAQUESAll the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;140
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,150
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,160
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
[Re-enter ORLANDO, with ADAM]
DUKE SENIORWelcome. Set down your venerable burthen,
And let him feed.
ORLANDOI thank you most for him.
ADAMSo had you need:
I scarce can speak to thank you for myself.
DUKE SENIORWelcome; fall to: I will not trouble you170
As yet, to question you about your fortunes.
Give us some music; and, good cousin, sing.
AMIENSBlow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:180
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh-ho! sing, &c.
DUKE SENIORIf that you were the good Sir Rowland's son,
As you have whisper'd faithfully you were,191
And as mine eye doth his effigies witness
Most truly limn'd and living in your face,
Be truly welcome hither: I am the duke
That loved your father: the residue of your fortune,
Go to my cave and tell me. Good old man,
Thou art right welcome as thy master is.
Support him by the arm. Give me your hand,
And let me all your fortunes understand.

Next: As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 1

Explanatory notes for Act 2, Scene 7
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

In this scene our acquaintance with Jaques and Duke Senior is enlarged. The philosopher meets the fool and each appreciates the other in his own way. The scene also brings Orlando and Adam to the forest. All together it is one of the most interesting in the play.

Line 4. merry: The First Lord's idea of Jaques as merry certainly proves his lack of observation.

5. compact of jars: full of discords. Observe Shakespeare's power of revealing a character in a few words.

6. discord in the spheres: A theory of the Greek, Pythagoras, that the heavenly bodies revolve about the earth and with each revolution a note is sounded which makes a harmony. Compare Lorenzo's speech to Jessica in the last act of "The Merchant of Venice" where he says:
"There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims."
11. what ... merrily: What do the Duke's words tell us of the change in Jaques?

12. Touchstone is apparently amusing himself in his new home.

13. motley: parti-colored dress of the fool. a miserable world: Jaques bethinks himself of his usual pose and heaves a deep sigh.

16. basked: to lie in warmth.

19. This is a reference to the old proverb, "Fortune favors fools."

20. dial: probably a watch. poke: the pocket or pouch which the fool always wore.

21. lack-lustre: wanting brightness. Touchstone may have assumed the air of boredom to draw out Jaques.

22. Time and change are the two phases of life particularly interesting to Shakespeare.

28. And ... tale: the word wags in line 23 may suggest a pun in tale. Are you reminded of Kipling's 'but that is another story'?

31. deep-contemplative: deeply observant.

32. sans: French word for without, as used in line 165.

34. only wear: the only thing to wear.

36. courtier: Touchstone is still a snob.

39. dry: retentive. This passage seems to imply that Touchstone has stored up in his brain many strange bits, which he expresses in broken phrases.

42. O ... fool: Perhaps you feel that he does not have to make this wish.

44. suit: Had suit better be read as meaning petition or as meaning dress? Consider which sense better fits the situation.

45. weed: Note the play upon words and the puns which follow.

48. charter: liberty.

50. galled: vexed.

52. Why is the way plain?

55. bob: jest.

56. anatomized: See I. i. 145.

57. squandering: random. The meaning of the passage seems to be as follows: Even if a fool manages to find a weak spot with his wit, a wise man will appear ignorant of the shot: otherwise his weakness will be revealed.

63. counter: a piece of metal or ivory used for reckoning in a game. Then it comes to mean a coin when scornfully alluded to.

64. It does not take the Duke long to turn tables on Jaques. This glimpse of his former life shows the poet's skill in enlarging our view of his characters. Such a man as Jaques could never teach men how to live.

70. The question means: "Who says that I can mean him?"

71. tax: blame.

73. wearer's: Jaques probably refers to spending too much money for clothes.

75-76. The women of the city try to imitate those of higher rank.

79-82. Those holding humble position dress better than they should. The whole defense is weak, for Jaques says that he has no intention of naming any individuals and therefore he will harm no one.

87. Does Jaques welcome the interruption?

94. vein: temper.

96. inland bred: as opposed to wilder, uncultivated districts.

97. nurture: breeding.

101. The contrast of the Duke's reply to Orlando's threat indicates the former's character.

106. Why should Orlando be so surprised at this courtesy?

108. The speech from here abounds in beauty of word and thought.

119. Does the Duke merely repeat the words or does he vary them in his own exquisite manner? Consider this in your reading.

122. engendered: called forth.

130. sufficed: satisfied.

136. This metaphor is one of the commonest in literature. Shakespeare uses it more than once. Compare Antonio's speech in "The Merchant of Venice."
"I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one."

137. pageants: What does Shakespeare mean by a pageant?

138. This is an opportunity which Jaques cannot afford to miss and there follows one of the best known and most frequently quoted passages in any of Shakespeare's plays. The idea of the seven ages of man has been used in art and poetry many times. Jaques draws his picture from his usual cynical point of view and intends to belittle man in all his ages. All ... stage: Over the Globe Theatre was the Latin motto, "Totus mundus agit histrionem," meaning All the world plays the actor. Shakespeare did not have to go far for the introductory thought.

143. Mewling: The first syllable ought to give a hint as to the meaning.

146. Can you see the schoolboy and perhaps sympathize with him?

147. ballad: Remember that this was a period when hundreds of love sonnets were being written, including Shakespeare's own.

149. like a pard: like a leopard.

153. capon: a fattened chicken.

155. wise saws: wise sayings. modern instances: commonplace illustrations.

162. his: its. This long speech has, of course, been used to fill in the time while they are waiting for Orlando to return with Adam.

173. Note that the song seems to be the outcome of the feeling aroused by the condition of Adam and Orlando. Here Adam disappears. Has he played his part well?

192. effigies: likeness.

193. limned: lined.


1. How have we been prepared for the table?

2. Now that we have the Duke and Jaques together, contrast them.

3. What has Touchstone found to do in the forest?

4. Why is Jaques so anxious to play the part of a fool?

5. Does the discontent of Touchstone and Jaques contribute any element of unhappiness to the life of the dwellers of the forest? Does their discontent make them disloyal followers?

6. Put into your own words the fool's idea of time.

7. What sharp lesson for Jaques does the Duke point out?

8. How is Orlando's entrance made dramatic?

9. How does Jaques say his famous speech and what are the others doing? You should memorize this speech.

10. How does Orlando bring in Adam? Note the word, burden. Picture the scene here.

11. What do the Duke and Orlando whisper about during the song?

12. Give all the examples you can of the cynicism of Jaques.

13. How far has this act carried us in the play?

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) < >.


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