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Ada Rehan as Rosalind, Lyceum Theatre, 1890

As You Like It

Summary of William Shakespeare's As You Like It: All brothers hate each other for some reason. Rosalind dresses up as a boy and convinces her crush to hit on her while she's a boy. Everyone is married by a Greek god.

Orlando, the youngest son of the recently-deceased Sir Roland de Boys (that's really his name), is harshly treated by his eldest brother, Oliver. Knowing that Orlando has decided to challenge Charles, the court wrestler, to a fight, Oliver tells Charles to injure Orlando if possible. Duke Frederick has recently deposed his brother, Duke Senior, as head of the court, but allowed Senior's daughter, Rosalind, to remain in residence. She and Celia, the new Duke's daughter, watch the wrestling competition. During the match, Rosalind falls in love with Orlando who is victorious in overthrowing Charles. Rosalind boldly gives Orlando a chain to wear; in turn, he is overcome with love. 

Shortly after, Orlando is warned of his brother's plot against him, and seeks refuge in the Forest of Arden. At the same time, and seemingly without cause, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind, compelling her to seek shelter in the Forest of Arden. Celia joins her, and they both disguise themselves: Rosalind as the young man Ganymede, and Celia as his shepherdess sister Aliena. Touchstone, the court fool, also goes with them. 

As You Like It Playbill at the Taunton 1819
As You Like It Playbill at the Taunton 1819

In the Forest of Arden, the weary cousins happen upon Silvius, a lovesick shepherd in the act of declaring his feelings for Phoebe, a scornful shepherdess. Ganymede buys the lease to the property of an old shepherd who needs someone to manage his estate, and Ganymede and Aliena set up home in the forest. Not far away, and unaware of the newcomers, Duke Senior is living a simple outdoor life with his fellow exiled courtiers and huntsmen. Their merriments are interrupted by the arrival of Orlando, who seeks nourishment for himself and his servant. The two men are welcomed by the outlaw courtiers.

Ganymede and Aliena find verses addressed to Rosalind hung on the forest branches by Orlando. After finding him, Ganymede proposes to cure Orlando of his love by persuading him to woo Ganymede as if he were Rosalind (even though "he" really is . . . Rosalind). Orlando consents, and visits Ganymede/Rosalind every day for his lessons. The shepherdess Phoebe, in the meantime, has fallen for Ganymede, while still being pursued by Silvius. Furthermore, Touchstone has dazzled a country girl, Audrey, with his courtly manners so that she deserts her young suitor, William, for him.

Royal Shakespeare Company, 1961
Royal Shakespeare Company, 1961

All the world's a stage.

— As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7

Duke Frederick, after hearing that Orlando disappeared at the same time as Rosalind and Celia, orders Oliver to go to the forest to seek Orlando. While in the forest, Oliver's life is saved by Orlando, who in turn is injured on his arm. Oliver runs into Ganymede and Aliena in the forest and relates this news. Rosalind (disguised as Ganymede) is overcome with her feelings for Orlando, while Celia (disguised as Aliena) and Oliver quickly fall in love with one another. Rosalind decides that it is time to end her game with Orlando, and devises a plan in which everyone will get married. 

As Ganymede, Rosalind promises Phoebe that they will marry, Celia will marry Oliver, Touchstone will marry Audrey, and Orlando will marry Rosalind. She makes Phoebe promise that if they, for some reason, don't get married, Phoebe will marry Silvius instead (a strange agreement!). On the day of the wedding, and with the help of the god Hymen, Rosalind reappears in her female clothes. Duke Senior gives her away to Orlando, while Phoebe accepts Silvius. Orlando's other brother returns from college with the news that Celia's father has left court to become a hermit, and thus, everyone is happy (except maybe Phoebe, who marries someone she doesn't love, and Sylvius, who marries someone who doesn't love him). The play ends with a joyful dance to celebrate the four marriages.

As You Like It in Urdu, 1886
As You Like It in Urdu, 1886

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