Orlando de Boys This young Englishman is noble and pure of heart. His constant concern and care for Adam, the old family servant, immediately makes the audience esteem him. When he learns that his brother Oliver is planning to kill him, he leaves home and goes to the Forest of Arden with old Adam. In the forest, he attaches love poems addressed to Rosalind on all the trees. Finally, he and Rosalind are united and wed.
Oliver de Boys He is supposed to teach his younger brother Orlando to be a gentleman, but he does not do so; he is a treacherous youth and tries to have Orlando killed. Orlando, however, saves him from being killed by a deadly snake and, later, from a fierce lioness, and finally the two brothers are reconciled. Oliver eventually falls in love with Celia.
Jaques de Boys Like Oliver and Orlando, he is one of the sons of the late Sir Roland de Boys. He is favored by Oliver over Orlando, and he is sent away to school to learn how to be a proper gentleman. At the end of the play, he appears onstage and announces that the corrupt Duke Frederick has been converted to a life of goodness by an old hermit.
Duke Frederick The "villain" of this comedy, he banishes his elder brother, and eventually he also exiles his brother's daughter, Rosalind, from the ducal palace. Just before the play ends, he is converted by a religious hermit, and, henceforward, he chooses to lead a monastic life in the Forest of Arden.
Rosalind She is the most realistic and sympathetic character in the play. She falls in love with Orlando and shortly thereafter is exiled from the ducal court by Frederick. Accompanied by Celia and Touchstone, she goes to the Forest of Arden disguised as a young man, Ganymede. In the forest, she is wooed by Orlando, who is unaware that she is, in reality, his beloved Rosalind.
Celia She is Rosalind's cousin and closest friend. When Rosalind is exiled by Celia's father, Celia accompanies Rosalind to the Forest of Arden. Since Celia isn't in love at the time, her practical answers to Rosalind's queries about love help to explore the depth of Rosalind's love for Orlando. Celia goes to the forest disguised as Aliena. Eventually she meets Orlando's brother Oliver and falls in love with him.
Touchstone The court clown, he accompanies Rosalind and Celia to the Forest of Arden. There he falls in love with Audrey, a country woman. Touchstone is one of Shakespeare's greatest "fools." Yet he is very realistic in his philosophy, and he serves as a norm by which we can view the other characters.
Jaques He is a man of the world, a free spirit. In his travels, he has affected Continental mannerisms of speech and dress, and he believes that his ideas are terribly profound when actually they are very shallow and very generalized. Jaques is satirized by almost everyone with whom he holds "deep discussions."
Duke Senior His ducal rights are usurped, and he is banished to the Forest of Arden by his younger brother, Frederick. Ultimately, his lands and his possessions are returned to him.
Adam He is the de Boys' old family retainer. He is dismissed by the nasty Oliver, and later he relates to Orlando that Oliver plans to kill Orlando while he sleeps. He accompanies Orlando to the Forest of Arden.
Corin In contrast to Silvius, Corin is a real shepherd; he is quite knowledgeable about sheep and their care. His lines serve as a contrast to the courtly wit of Touchstone. He also serves as a contrast to the pastoral lovers, Silvius and Phebe.
Audrey This simple country woman, along with William and Corin, serves as a contrast to the "town" characters. She has trouble expressing her thoughts and cannot fathom the wit of Touchstone, but their love is so rapturous that eventually they are wed.
Silvius This shepherd represents the romantic lover in the pastoral genre of Elizabethan literature. He loves the shepherdess Phebe, but she constantly rejects him; despite this fact, however, he pines for her throughout the play and constantly threatens suicide if his love remains unrequited. Unlike Corin, he knows absolutely nothing about sheep.
Phebe As the pastoral girl who is the beloved of Silvius, she is a stock figure of this type of romance — that is, she rejects the advances of Silvius, while he suffers from the woes of love-sickness. Surprisingly, she falls wildly in love with Ganymede (Rosalind in disguise), yet finally she weds Silvius.
William He is a stock country character who serves as a contrast to the pastoral lovers, Silvius and Phebe, and also as a contrast to the "town characters."
Amiens A lord attending Duke Senior; he has a light, delightful role, and in this role, he sings some of the most beautiful lyrics that Shakespeare ever wrote.
Le Beau He represents the man-about-town. He speaks well but knows little, and his speech, his dress, and his mannerisms are all satirized in the play.
Charles A professional wrestler whom Oliver tells to kill — or at least, maim — Orlando. Ironically, Orlando wins the match.
Sir Oliver Martext This vicar is not too knowledgeable; he almost joins Touchstone and Audrey in wedlock, but Touchstone is dissuaded at the last moment by Jaques.
Hymen The god of marriage appears in the final scene of the play to lead the masque and to give dignity to the subsequent marriage ceremony.
Dennis Servant to Oliver de Boys.