All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts..." [II. Vii. 139]
Well-known for its oft-quoted "Seven Ages of Man" speech, this lively pastoral romance offers an eloquent meditation on the many-faceted but ultimately ephemeral nature of existence. As You Like It moves easily from lighthearted comedy to a deeper exploration of social and literary issues, depicting an enchanted community in which disguised lovers and merry outlaws debate justice, literary conventions, the uses of satire, relations between the sexes, and other intellectual matters, all in the incomparable language of Shakespeare.
One of the Bard's most popular comedies, As You Like It concerns an old Duke, unjustly deposed by his younger brother, who retreats to the Forest of Arden and forms a sort of rustic utopia with his loyal followers. Rosalind, the rightful duke's daughter remains at court as a devoted companion to her cousin Celia, daughter of the usurping duke. But when Rosalind falls in love with Orlando, the son of one of the banished duke's followers and himself the victim of a tyrannical brother, both Rosalind and Celia assume disguises and flee to the forest, where they encounter a magical world of friendly freebooters, wise fools, and jolly rustics. Among them are some of Shakespeare's most memorable characters, including the clown Touchstone and the melancholy Jacques.
Embodying some of Shakespeare's finest poetry, this inexpensive edition of As You Like It is sure to appeal to a wide audience of students and general readers.
—Summary taken from The World of Shakespeare.
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