Explanatory notes for Act 1, Scene 1
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
Dramatis Personae = persons of the drama; the cast.
The cast is printed according to rank and social position, with
the women, also in order of rank, after the male characters.
How does this compare with the arrangement of a program of a
Shakespeare at once gives a hint of the French setting by
using a few French names in the cast. Jaques is a name found
in England where it was pronounced as a monosyllable, Jakes,
but the meter shows us that here it should be pronounced in two
syllables, Ja/ques. The only other difficult names are Le Beau, Rosalind, and Audrey. [Please click here for a pronunciation guide.]
In an orchard, charming setting, Orlando, in his outburst to the sympathetic Adam, tells us of the circumstances which have
led up to just this crisis in his affairs. Lodge pictures the deathbed scene of the father, but the playwright must use more economy than the novelist. From Charles we learn of Rosalind, the banishment and usurpation, so that we have the setting of the
play clearly before us, and enough of the action to arouse our interest.
Line 1.upon this fashion: in this manner. Adam: Shakespeare is said to have played this part.
2. poor a thousand crowns: the adjective "poor" has no more influence on the order of the phrase than an adverb, such
as "only," would have. The "a" here is really a numeral,
meaning "one," so that the phrase, "a thousand," is a compound numeral. crown: an English coin of silver, so called
because of the crown stamped upon it. Its value in American
money is about $1.21 [circa. 1922].
3. on his blessing: on pain of losing his blessing.
4. to breed: to bring up, to educate; as in our words, "well-bred," "good breeding."
6. My brother Jaques: Note that there are two characters
of this name. This is the second son of Sir Rowland, who has
been sent away to the University. goldenly: in praise of. Cf.
6. rustically: like a person in the country; without education or training. Remember that we use rustic in that sense.
7. stays: keeps. Note "stay him" in line 124 of this scene.
9. stalling: the way an ox is kept in his stall. Notice the
consistent way in which Orlando uses the language of the care
of animals during this passage. Has he any reason for doing
11. taught their manage: trained.
14. Besides ... from me: Note the contrast between
"nothing" and "something." Orlando is now at the height
of his scorn. countenance: behavior. Paraphrase this
17. hinds: lowest servants.
18. mines ... education: undermines my real nature by
my lack of training.
26. shake me up: perhaps this is slang like the modern phrase
"call me down."
Enter Oliver. Notice the preparation for this in Adam's
speech, line 24. In Shakespeare no one enters or exits without
a reason. Do you see any difference in the modern farces?
27. make: do. Follow the word through the next six lines
and observe the play of words upon it, as in "mar" and "marry."
29. mar: spoil.
30. marry: as an expletive from the name of the Virgin
Mary. It means "indeed" and expresses surprise.
32. naught: be as nothing; therefore, take yourself off. A
common oath of the time which might be compared to "be
hanged to you."
34. Shall I ... penury? How far does Orlando carry the
story of the Prodigal Son? Look it up in Luke xv. How
common is this story in literature?
36. penury: poverty.
39. As Oliver grows angry and more insolent, Orlando becomes cooler.
40. him: "him" is often found for "he." Here it may take
its case from whom, which is understood.
41. in ... blood: gentle is in this sense used of good birth;
therefore "as well born brothers should."
42. The courtesy of nations: as universal custom demands.
46. albeit: old form for "although."
47. nearer to his reverence: you are the elder and therefore
entitled to the respect due him.
48. what, boy! Orlando has been speaking with unwonted
boldness; Oliver is very angry, and accompanies his words
what, boy with a threatening gesture. Doubtless he shakes his
fist in Orlando's face. But Orlando shows fight, advances upon
his enemy, and collars him. When Orlando in his next speech
says, you are too young in this, the word this refers to the overtures of violence with which Oliver accompanied his words,
49. Come ... this: Oliver has, of course, been accustomed
to call Orlando "boy." But the latter has been growing up to
manhood, has become conscious of his strength, and now asserts
himself both in word and deed. In what tone, therefore, does
he address Oliver as elder brother?
68. for ... remembrance: for your father's sake.
67. allottery: share. Occurs nowhere else in Shakespeare.
68. testament: by his will.
71. get you in: leave me.
80. Picture Oliver as he is left alone after this revolt of his
younger brother. Is there a pause here? He is in a rage and
naturally thinks of revenge. How does Lodge differ in the whole
scene between the brothers? grow upon me: get control of me.
81. physic your rankness: stop the growth of your insolence.
Note that rankness continues the metaphor of growth. no ... neither. In early English two negatives strengthened the
82. Holla: Come here.
86. importunes access: begs earnestly to see you.
91. Monsieur: the French title of respect.
108. the forest of Arden: The Forest of Ardennes is in the
northeastern part of France between the Meuse and the Moselle. There is also a Forest of Arden in Warwickshire. As the
scene of Lodge's novel is laid in France, Shakespeare probably took this setting, although, as his mother's name was Arden, the
name may very well have been dear to him. In all probability
he troubled himself very little as to actual location, but took the
forest, palm-trees, lions, and all, directly from Lodge for his
people to "fleet the time carelessly."
110. old Robin Hood of England: A beautiful simile this.
Who was Robin Hood?
111. fleet the time: make time pass.
112. golden world: The Golden Age; that is the state of
innocence found in Paradise.
117. hath a disposition: has made up his mind.
118. try a fall: language of wrestling.
122. loath ... him: I should hesitate to defeat him.
124. withal: with the whole matter. stay him ... disgrace: keep him from his purpose or endure his disgrace.
Charles does not seem to be lacking in frankness.
129. requite: reward.
130. by underhand means: by indirect means, since Orlando
132. it is: Note the scorn in the use of the pronoun "it."
133. emulator: envious rival; used here in a bad sense.
136. natural: by birth.
137. to 't: Shakespeare uses the contraction constantly. Note "ta'en" farther on in this speech. How much do we use
contractions and when?
138. disgrace ... grace: Note play upon words. grace
himself on thee: honor himself at your expense.
144. anatomize: literally to dissect; here lay bare completely.
147. Is Charles completely deceived?
148. go alone: work without help.
162. gamester: one who is ready for a game; therefore, a
166. noble device: lofty ideals.
168. misprised: undervalued.
160. kindle: incite. Cf. "aflame." thither: thereto. Why
is this so beautiful a passage?
1. Picture the scene.
2. What have Orlando and Adam been talking about before
3. What is Shakespeare's purpose in this opening speech?
4. How old are Orlando and Adam?
5. Which does Orlando feel the need of more, money or education?
6. Where does the action become very lively? Explain just
how it came about.
7. How long a time has it taken Orlando to reach this point
8. Adam makes three speeches in this scene. What do you
know about him when he goes out?
9. How are the main characters introduced to us?
10. What do you learn from the conversation between Oliver
and Charles as to the conditions at the court?
11. Is there anything to be said in Oliver's favor?
12. How much of the plot has this scene revealed?
13. What passages have you especially liked?
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) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/asu_1_1.html >.