Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 2



In this scene, Frederick discovers that Celia and Rosalind are gone and that Touchstone is also missing. A lord tells him that the cousins were overheard praising Orlando; he suggests that they may be in his company. Frederick then commands that Orlando or — in the event of Orlando's absence — that Oliver be brought to him.


This scene serves two purposes. First, it offers a way for Oliver to be sent to the Forest of Arden, where he will meet with the other exiled characters. Now, only Orlando and Adam remain behind, yet very shortly, both of them will leave for the Forest of Arden. We realize, therefore, that soon all of the main characters will arrive there, and the main action of the play will begin. Second, this scene stands in juxtaposition to the preceding scene. Whereas the preceding scene was one of pensive tranquility, Scene 2 is harsh; it is filled with tension and vengefulness.

The counterbalancing of scenes, one contrasting with the other, is a dramatic device much used by Shakespeare. In this particular play, the grouping of scenes without a hint of serious movement has led some critics to compare these elements to those found in the masque, an elaborate, lighthearted, and extravagantly costumed entertainment that was much in vogue in the sixteenth century.

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