As You Like It condensed

The play is set in a mysterious community where a Duke Frederick has recently wrested away control of the community from his older brother, a Duke Senior.  Sir Rowland de Boys, a well respected man in the community, has recently died, having left his estate to his oldest son, Oliver, under a custom known as primogeniture, a custom that transfers the whole of one’s estate to the oldest son.  Jaques, Sir Rowland’s second son is away at school.  The third son, Orlando, is left with little means, other than to serve his older brother and he resents it.  Eighty year old Adam was Duke Senior’s servant, but now serves Oliver, but has sympathy for Orlando’s desperate situation. Duke Senior and his aides and others have been banished to the Forest of Arden, a mysterious nearby forest.  Duke Senior’s daughter, Rosalind, remains in the community, supported by her uncle, Duke Frederick.  Duke Frederick has a daughter, Celia. 

Act 1.  Orlando has a serious spat with Oliver, Adam coming to Orlando’s defense, Oliver dismissing the two of them.  Duke Frederick’s wrestler, Charles, and Orlando plan to wrestle.  Rosalind and Celia plan to attend the match. Orlando throws Charles, to the surprise of all. Rosalind offers Orlando the chain about her neck; she and Orlando fall for each other.  Seriously upset with Charles’ loss, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind from his court, causing Celia to have a falling-out with her father, both young women deciding to leave for the Forest of Arden.  Celia convinces Touchstone, her father’s jester, to join them.  Being taller, Rosalind disguises herself as a man, calling herself Ganymede.  Celia pretends to be Ganymede’s sister, calling herself Aliena.

Act 2. Upset that his daughter and her cousin, his niece, have left the community, Duke Frederick sensing that Orlando is culpable, asks Oliver to locate his brother Orlando and have him returned.  Adam advises Orlando that Oliver plans to “burn the lodging where you used to lie, and you within.”  Orlando decides to immediately leave the area.  Adam begs Orlando “to let me go with you, in all your business and necessities,” giving Orlando all of his gold.  Orlando accepts Adam’s plea, saying “We’ll go along together.”  They leave for the Forest of Arden.  Disguised Rosalind and Celia along with Touchstone reach the forest.  They buy a cottage.  Orlando and Adam have also arrived in the forest, a famished and exhausted Adam crying “O, I die for food.”  Orlando, leaving to find food for the two of them, stumbles upon Duke Senior and his aides about to sit down to dinner, the duke suggesting Orlando and Adam join them. When Orlando returns with Adam, Jaques offers us his most famous “All the world’s a stage” soliloquy.  Adam soon dies, but not before Shakespeare gives him some good lines. 

Act 3. We learn that Orlando has been traipsing through the forest hanging love verses on branches of trees. Rosalind reads them. Touchstone mocks them. Celia knows the writer, teasing Rosalind. Orlando enters. Rosalind disguised as Ganymede asks him about the love verses. Orlando says he is “love-shaked” and needs a “remedy.” Rosalind tells him she can “cure it by counsel,” but that he will have to “come every day to my cottage and woo me,” and that “you must call me Rosalind.”  Touchstone has met and fallen for Audrey, a goat-keeper.  Silvius, a too-weak “milk-livered” apprentice shepherd, has fallen for Phoebe, a strong-willed shepherdess.  Phoebe treats him poorly.  Ganymede advises Phoebe to “thank heaven for a good man’s love” and that “you are not for all markets.”  Phoebe falls for the strong and bold Ganymede. 

Act 4. Disguised Rosalind holds love-counseling sessions with Orlando.  At one point he has to leave, promising to return at 2:00 that afternoon.  Rosalind is head-over-heels in love with him.  Orlando does not return at 2:00.  At about this point, Phoebe demands Silvius deliver a love note to Ganymede on her behalf, and he does.  When Silvius delivers the letter, Ganymede tells him that “love hath made thee a tame snake.”  Oliver enters, on behalf of Orlando, asking the two of them if they know a “youth he calls his Rosalind.”  Disguised Rosalind quickly replies “I am.”  Oliver tells her that Orlando is badly injured, having saved him (Oliver) from an attack by a lioness.  She faints; then recovers, claiming the fainting was an act.  Oliver tells the disguised Rosalind that “you lack a man’s heart.”  She admits “I do.  I confess it.”  As Oliver leaves, Rosalind as Ganymede asks him “to commend my counterfeiting to your brother.”

Act 5. Oliver had fallen hard for Celia (as Aliena) when he saw her when he was sharing Orlando’s message to “his Rosalind.”  Oliver tells Orlando that “I love Aliena.” Orlando gives him the family’s blessing.  Brimming with confidence, Rosalind tells the injured Orlando “if you will be married tomorrow, you shall, and to Rosalind, if you will.”  She tells Phoebe she’ll marry her “if ever I marry a woman.”  She asks her still unaware-of-who-she-is father “if I bring in your Rosalind, you will bestow her on Orlando here?”  “That would I” he says.  All four couples are married, the men being Orlando, Oliver, Touchstone and Silvius.  The Second Brother, Jaques, enters to announce that Duke Frederick has returned his crown to his older brother, Duke Senior.       

 

Copyright © 2010 Condensed Shakespeare

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