Explanatory notes for Act 5, Scene 4
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)
The concluding scene, which contains the denouement, is to many critics disappointing. The light tone, however, is continued to the end, and we rejoice in the happy ending which is altogether "as we like it."
Line 4. This line rather obscurely aims to describe a mental
state of mingled hope and fear.
18. even: straight.
27. lively: lifelike. This brief dialogue shows how nearly
Rosalind was discovered. They are both suspicious.
31. rudiments: first principles.
32. desperate: "forbidden by law."
34. obscured: concealed.
Enter Touchstone and Audrey. The scene which follows is
needed to give time for Rosalind to make her preparations.
Note the manner of Touchstone and also of poor Audrey.
38. Touchstone's bow is that of a true courtier while Audrey,
at his prompting, can manage only an awkward courtesy.
42. put ... purgation: challenge me for proof.
43. trod a measure: Remember Young Lochinvar. Touchstone's idea of a courtier shows that he knows them.
50. How seventh cause: Touchstone's instant readiness
to start off with a voluble explanation of what looks like a well-adjusted system of causes and lies should not mislead us into
attempts to find order and consistency in his account of his quarrel with a certain courtier, and in his explanations of his
quarrel in accordance with the rules of quarreling with which he
seems so familiar. Remember that his business is to entertain
and he is doing it. like this fellow: Jaques enjoys showing
off the fool whose praises he so enthusiastically sang in Act II.
Note that Touchstone rises to the occasion.
53. I ... like: Allow me to return the compliment. Another bow accompanies this, perhaps several.
56. copulatives: those who wish to be joined together in
56. blood: passion. a ... virgin: Can you not imagine
Audrey's complete embarrassment as she is introduced to these
61. swift and sententious: ready and wise.
62. the fool's bolt: A bolt was a blunt arrow. See Henry
V, III, 7, 131, you are better at proverbs, by how much "A fool's
bolt is soon shot." and ... diseases: Just Touchstone's nonsense. Compare Launcelot's Fates and Destinies and such odd
sayings, the Sisters Three and such branches of learning. This sort
of absurdity appealed to the London audience.
66. Touchstone, with much relish, plunges into his exposition
of the seventh cause, not forgetting to chide poor Audrey, who,
in trying to escape notice, is becoming more and more embarrassed.
67. seeming: becomingly.
73. Quip: a sharp retort. Shakespeare uses it frequently.
Recall Milton's Quips and cranks and wanton wiles in "Allegro."
78. Countercheck: check or rebuff, as in chess.
83. measured swords: A regular preliminary of a duel with
swords was the ceremony of measuring the weapons, that the
parties might be seen to be on a footing of perfect equality.
Touchstone's duel went as far as measuring the swords.
84. Jaques may well question Touchstone, whom he suspected
of making the whole thing up.
86. by the book: There were books, which are still in existence, on the etiquette of quarreling. The particular book to
which this passage refers is probably "Vincentio Saviolo his
Practise. In two Books. The first intreating of the use of the
rapier and Dagger. The second of Honor and honorable Quarrels."
87. books for good manners: books of etiquette. These
are not unknown at the present time.
97. swore brothers: This is an allusion to fratres jurati
(sworn brothers) of the days of chivalry. This indicated an
oath to protect each other.
101. stalking horse: a horse, either real or the figure of one,
behind which sportsmen approached their game. The Duke
seems to appreciate that Touchstone is satirizing one of the affectations of the times.
102. presentation: cover.
Enter Hymen. Hymen was the god of marriage. We usually
associate yellow and white and a blazing torch with him. Imagine the scene, especially the sensation created by Rosalind in her
wedding garments. Can you not hear her laugh as she watches Orlando's face? Still music: low, soft music.
106. atone: are at one.
111. What action here?
117. These are Rosalind's last words. Do we, however, forget
that she is present?
125. If ... contents: If truth is true.
126. It is not difficult to understand to whom Hymen is
speaking in the lines which follow.
132. wedlock hymn: Music always formed a part of wedding
133. Juno's crown: Juno was the presiding goddess of marriage.
143. Even ... degree: The Duke has just called Celia,
correctly, his niece. But to express the warmth of his feeling,
he goes further and calls her daughter, welcome in no less degree
than a real daughter.
144. Phebe finds no difficulty in returning to her old love. eat
my word: A very modern expression.
146. Shakespeare tells us of the change in Duke Frederick
through the story of Jaques de Boys so that the evil from outside Arden may not penetrate too sharply. How much better
this is than in the novel!
150. men of great worth: "Touchstone bows."
151. addressed a mighty power: gathered a great force of
152. in ... conduct: under his leadership.
156. an old religious man: a hermit. This forest has unending possibilities.
156. question: talk. converted: Duke Frederick is going in
to a monastery.
161. engage: pledge.
162. offer 'st fairly: make a goodly present.
163. to the other: Through his marriage to Rosalind Orlando
will have a great estate.
164. at large: of great extent.
166. do those ends: accomplish those ends.
168. shrewd: evil.
170. states: estates. Amiens is standing near. Do you remember that he said in Act II, I would not change it? What is
his attitude now?
175. Just as the happy couples are finding their places for the measure, Jaques steps forward. There is too much happiness
here for him. With apt congratulation to all the bridegrooms he goes. Note that he is a courtier still, even though he prefers
to share the life of the convertite.
192. The scene ends in a charming dance. Shakespeare
knew well how to make a picturesque conclusion.
1. Why are Duke Senior and Orlando such good friends?
2. How does Shakespeare manage suspense in this scene?
3. Discuss the possibility that the Duke and Orlando have
already suspected the identity of Rosalind.
4. Why is the scene with Touchstone put just here? How
would it be made amusing?
5. Describe the actions of Audrey.
6. Describe fully the scene of the wedding, not forgetting
courtiers and countryfolk.
7. Is the Duke pleased with the news brought by Jaques de
Boys? Defend your answer.
8. Is there any point in this scene where Jaques forgets to be
9. Comment on the ending.
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_5_4.html >.