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Love and Belonging in As You Like It Essay


As You Like It

The Oxford Dictionary states, the definition of belonging, is to be rightly put into a particular position or class; fit or be accept/able in a particular place or environment; belong, to be a member of; belong, to be the property or possession of.

Throughout the play As You Like It belonging plays a major role in shaping the context of what becomes an intriguing and mesmerising story. During the course of the play all the characters seek to belong, either physically, mentally or spiritually. This to me indicates that most people have a desperate desire to belong in some way.

In the opening of As You Like It we are shown a disfunctional and confused society from within the court. Relationships are fractured and families torn apart due to rivalry. For example, Duke Frederick banishes Duke Senior to the Forest of Arden after usurping the throne from him. Duke Frederick then banishes Rosalind because she is Duke Seniors daughter, but as Duke Senior familiarises himself with the forest he soon finds a new found love for the forest. Belonging can also be related to how a person feels in a particular place. For example, Duke Senior tells us that, even though the Forest of Arden is cold, windy, and rugged, it seems like the Garden of Eden to him because, in the forest, he finds "books in the running brooks, Sermons in the stones, and good in everything". Act 2, scene 1- Duke Senior. This quote suggests that he is content about being in the forest because as Duke Senior said theres good in everything.

The text As You Like It also taught me that maybe a sense of belonging can result in contentment and happiness within relationships. Shakespeare has demonstrated this by using the concept of love. The play finishes on a positive note with the marriages of Phoebe and Silvius, Celia and Oliver, Audrey and Touchstone, and Rosalind and Orlando. This leaves us feeling that these characters belong with each other.

As You Like It also portrays the views of not belonging. I found it interesting that some characters in As You Like It chose not to belong. Jaques was one of these as he is always melancholy and chooses to look on the negative side of things. Ironically in his speech on the human condition he says,

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,

His acts being seven ages. As, 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,

Seeking the bubble reputation

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