As You Like It By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 3

Summary

Arriving home, Orlando meets Adam, who tells him that news of his triumph in the wrestling match has spread and that Oliver is plotting to burn down Orlando's sleeping quarters that very night. Failing that, Adam says, Oliver will try to murder Orlando by some other means. He warns Orlando to leave immediately. When Orlando protests that he has no way to make a living, the old servant presses upon him his life's savings of five hundred crowns and begs him to leave, and he also begs Orlando to take him along in the young man's service. Orlando praises Adam for his devotion, then they both hurry off.

Analysis

As villains in a comedy, Oliver and Duke Frederick rank only a degree below Shakespeare's best. They never reach the level of an Iago, however, simply because they are never quite successful. Their villainy is only in thought, never in deed. Duke Frederick may have usurped his brother's lands, but he cannot get rid of his brother's influence, as evidenced in Rosalind's relationship with Celia and vice versa, when Rosalind is forced to flee from the ducal court.

It is interesting to note that old Adam, pictured here as goodness personified, serves as a counter-balance to the villainy of Oliver and Frederick. Falling in the middle of these extremes are the more realistic characters of Orlando, Rosalind, and Celia.

Orlando's discussion of the "antique world" and his looking forward to a better day echo the tranquil mood of the Forest of Arden, established by Duke Senior in Act II, Scene 1.

At this point in the play, all of the major characters who are representative of courtly life are either in the Forest of Arden or on their way there. It is now time to meet their counterparts from the country.

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