As You Like It — Acts IV, V, and Reveal
Jaques is sad at the start of Act IV. Well, melancholic anyway. I think he has the traveling woes. Poor Jaques. I know you not.
Next up, Rosalind delivers the meat of the play. Yes, I do believe this is what we’ve been building toward this whole time. We’ve had our fun with the brothers trying to kill each other by sending one another to wrestling matches outside their weight class, and there was even a Duke or two who banished themselves from whatever kingdom they were in. But now, deep in the heart of this unknown forest, Rosalind, pretending to be a man, is instructing Orlando on how to properly woo his love, er, Rosalind.
She tells him he should kiss her and I’m not sure if she means the supposed Rosalind she is not or the Rosalind she is… which is a man, as far as Orlando knows. If the latter is the case then this is very saucy indeed, but Orlando doesn’t seem to blink an eye so good on you, Shakespeare! That’s some progressive 16th century writing if I ever saw any.
<Puts any historical notes on Shakespeare’s questioned sexuality on the shelf for now and moves on.>
Rosalind: The poor world is almost six thousand years old…
I just wanted to drop that here to allow all the so-called scientists out there a chance to ease back the throttle on the whole Big Bang theory because, yo, Shakespeare was a flat earther.
Rosalind is taking this thing about as far as a person can before being arrested for impersonating themselves. Is that a thing? No? Cool, then she’s fine.
Whilst having her fun with Orlando, she asks her friend Celia to marry them, as if she were Rosalind. Ahem, Celia’s all like, actually <insert Rosalind’s mannish pretend name I can’t recall right now here>, that’s probably something I can’t do. Could she do it, though? Even if this whole thing weren’t a silly jest? Is Celia an ordained minister from the Church of The Holy Roly Poly Internet High Priestess faction? I don’t think any of it matters, especially since we are speaking of silliness.
By the way, Orlando is about as dumb as every reporter at the Daily Planet who ever saw Clark Kent rub his tired eyes behind his glasses. Even more so, in that this man-nequin version of Rosalind is laying the whole “pretend I’m Rosalind” thing on soooo thick, she might as well be wearing a neon sign on her back that says “Actually, I am she.”
Celia: You have simply misused our sex in your love-prate: we must have your doublet and hose plucked over your head, and show the world what the bird hath done to her own nest.
Boo yah! Celia delivers! She knows what’s up! She tells Rosalind, as soon as Orlando is gone, that she needs to chill. At least someone had the nerve to say it.
Even though Rosalind is having a blast deceiving Orlando, she admits that she truly does love him. She just has a funny way of showing it.
Scenes ii, iii, iv
In Scene ii, Jaques, a Lord, and. a forester have some laughs killing a deer and singing about killing a deer. Or maybe just the latter happened. Either way, congrats on that, I guess.
Scene iii happens next, as Roman numerals would have it. I went through it kind of quick but if memory serves (and it seldom does) Rosalind is brought a letter from Thebe. The messenger is Silvius. Or maybe vice versa? The contents of the letter seem to add another log to the flames. The letter writer (Thebe or Silvius) is enamored with Rosalind. No wait, that can’t be right. Maybe it was sent by a woman who is enamored with the man Rosalind is pretending to be? Yeah, that sounds even more incorrect. Well I’m gonna say this one doesn’t matter because what comes next is even more perplexing.
Oliver enters the forest and delivers news that Orlando, his brother, after just leaving Rosalind, came upon an old man up in a tree. The old man was about to be eaten by a snake way up on a high branch. But a lioness, lying in wait, scared away the python (I’m surmising it to be a python). The lion then, instead of going for the easy bait of the old man, decided to attack Orlando. I guess he made it out with some pretty bad wounds and he managed to give Oliver a bloody napkin to bring to Rosalind. Nice. Just what every girl wants.
What is this play about?? I mean, right??
Anyway, the strangeness amuses me. And here we leave for the night, as we conclude Act IV.
Scene i, enter Touchstone (the clown) and some girl named Audrey who I’m like 90 percent sure is not the man-eating plant from Little Shop Of Horrors.
Actually, that was Audrey II.
Touché, classic musical nerd.
Who is Audrey? Is she the girl who is supposedly in love with the man version of Rosalind? I’m gonna go with that for now.
A 25-year-old boy named William comes into the forest for seemingly no purpose but for Touchstone to give a speech about … oh I don’t even know.
Soon, Orlando and Oliver arrive. Oliver says he wants to marry a girl named Aliena. Has she been in the play yet? Orlando says that’s all fine and dandy as he wants to marry Rosalind. Then Rosalind (as a man yet still) comes in and they all have a go at repeating each other.
If this be so, why blame you me to love you?
Times three and then some. I would think this to be a quirky misprint in my digital copy but all the lines are attributed to different players. And there are subtle differences in the other repeated lines so I dunno.
Next, Rosalind tells everyone (including Silvius and Phebe) separately that she will marry them tomorrow. I guess she is now posing as a priest of some kind? Because I’m sure she doesn’t mean it literally.
Scene iii, iv, Epilogue
Touchstone is excited because tomorrow he is going to be married to Audrey. Sure! OK!
A page or two enter and the second one sings a song with a hey and a ho and a hey ninny o. Actually, I lied. It’s a nonio. Forgive me, but I believe my lyric is better.
Rosalind mentions that she can marry everyone if they are willing and she runs off to, I assume, get all girled up again?
While she is away, Touchstone goes on forever about some man he told literally seven times that “his beard was not well cut.” I don’t want to go into it much more than that as I’m having trouble deciding whether his incessant verbal diarrhea was hilarious or bone tedious? Probably both. I’m sure he had a point. Maybe something about human nature. Yeah, ha, that’s my guess.
Hymen (ahem), Rosalind, and Celia enter and one can only pray this thing is coming to a close now.
Rosalind is revealed (yay) and her father recognizes her as his daughter. Way to go Dad. Also, Orlando seems jazzed that she’s here so that’s super.
A Jacques comes in and restores the stripped Duke of his dukedom. Remember when that happened? I barely don’t, or maybe barely do?
In a brief Epilogue, Rosalind says it’s not normal for a woman to give the Epilogue of a play. She also opines on the state of a good play and/or a bad one. Maybe she shouldn’t be bringing these thoughts to the tip of the minds of the audience. Because I’m not sure everyone out there went wild for it. Or maybe I’m the only poo pooer in 500 years. Whatevs… let’s get to the reveal.
Well well well… There’s actually not a heck of a lot that becomes apparent to me upon reading up on this play after the fact. I’ve consulted no less than three different sources for synopsis and, upon doing so, have come to this astounding conclusion: As You Like It is a silly mess.
Forgive me, Mr. Shakespeare, but what is the point?
I suppose I got hints of banishment at the beginning of the play but maybe I didn’t feel the full force of the new duke’s decree. When he banished the old duke, he, in essence also told Rosalind to take a hike. And when she ran off to the forest (of Arden, it turns out) with Celia, she came upon a bunch of other characters out there. And that is where the whole story takes place. I guess most (if not all) of the players in the forest are companions of the aforementioned banished Duke. Ok.
For the life of me, I can’t find a solid reason for Rosalind to dress like a man. The only thing I can figure is that she likes it and it’s fun and something to do. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing. It’s fine. Even if she’s being dishonest with others about her true nature? Well then there’s the pickle, I suppose. Perhaps this is the think piece the Bard wants to put on our heads. Where does good fun become harmful? Not that Rosalind is doing any real harm to anyone through her deceitful persona. None that I can find anyway. It’s all just silly, childish games. There’s no point to any of it.
But everyone does fall in love and the play ends happily for all and isn’t that what’s important?
No! I want plot and intrigue!
Me too, brother… or sister… or sister dressing as a brother for shenanigans and woods romps.
What’s next on the old Shakespeare slate? Please be a tragedy, please be a tragedy. These comedies are killing me.
<Checks the trusty Shakespeare Schedule>
Looks like Comedy of Errors is up in August. Well that sounds pretty dang dramatic, don’t it?