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Belonging in As You Like It Essay


Belonging is basic human instinct. We all seek to belong, be it physically, mentally or spiritually. By belonging we can enrich a community with our views and they in turn can help us mature through important lessons. It is only through belonging that we can break out of the shell of individualism and self-centeredness that both protects and isolates us. However, the human drive for belonging also has its pitfalls.

There is an innate need in our hearts to identify with a group, both for protection and for security, to discover and affirm our identity, and to use the group to prove our worthiness and goodness; indeed even to prove that we are better than others.

In the opening of As You Like It we are shown a dysfunctional and confused society. Relationships are fractured and families torn apart due to rivalry. A prime example of how one can use their relationships to define and assure self of any insecurity is when Oliver is willing to kill his own brother, in hopes of affection from those who love and are delighted by Orlando.

Now will I stir this gamester. I hope I shall see an end of him, for my soulyet I know not whyhates nothing

more than he. Yet he's gentle, never schooled and yet

learned, full of noble device, of all sorts enchantingly

beloved, and indeed so much in the heart of the world and

especially of my own people, who best know him, that I am

altogether misprized. But it shall not be so long; this

wrestler shall clear all. Nothing remains but that I kindle

the boy thither, which now I'll go about.


Act 1 Scene 1 Line 140-148

Where Duke Frederick is overthrown and banished from the court by Duke Senior, it is also a good example of family feud.

Touchstone tends to challenge just about anything and everything which Rosalind and the other characters believe in such as love, relationships and wisdom.

From the beginning of the play he expresses "The more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly", which already depicts his skepticism regarding the reliability of certain individuals, in particular, the Duke.

Touchstone serves as a symbol for an individual who finds absurdity in the common desires to belong within a society, which in his case the courts, because he cannot find a reason to belong simple due to the fact that he does not agree with the customs and expectations. For that reason, he challenges the courts and soon leaves to the Forest of Arden.

The Forest of Arden (an allusion to the Garden of Eden) can be seen as a place of spiritual healing. Characters from the play enter Arden and at the end come out somewhat rectified. This sense of reconciliation where they construct a new sense of belonging as a group starts off with an urban dystopian society, plagued with injustice, governed by those like Duke Senior and Oliver. The Forest of Arden allows Orland, Rosalind and others to escape and liberate the thinking for a new and more righteous society. They build a new utopia/community and work towards a new way of life where they are enriched by the quality, experience and also what they have learnt in the Forest. Thus learning and humanity is filtered through to enrich a new community.

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