As You Like It
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. By putting on male clothes and adopting a masculine swagger, Rosalind easily passes as a man throughout the better part of the play. What does her behavior suggest about gender? Does the play imply that notions of gender are fixed or fluid? Explain.
2. Discuss As You Like It as an example of pastoral literature. What features of the pastoral mode lend themselves to social criticism? What, if anything, does Shakespeare’s play criticize?
3. Throughout the play, we find numerous allusions to cuckoldry. In a play that celebrates love and ends with four marriages, what purpose might these allusions serve?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. As You Like It is full of characters pretending to be someone other than themselves. To what degree are the characters aware that they are role-playing? Does their acting have serious consequences, or is it merely a game?
2. Like Rosalind, both Touchstone and Jaques possess an ability to see things that the other characters do not. They are critics, but their criticism differs greatly from Rosalind’s. How is this so? To what effect do these different criticisms lead?
3. In a play that ends with the formation and celebration of a community, we may be struck by Jaques’s decision not to return to court. What does his refusal suggest about his character? What effect does it have on the play’s ending? Does it cast a shadow over an otherwise happy ending, or is it inconsequential?
4. As You Like It explores the possibility of both homosexual and heterosexual attraction. Does the play present one as the antithesis of the other, or does it suggest a more complex relationship between the two? What, in the end, does the play have to say about these different forms of love?
5. What does Phoebe represent? Why does Rosalind react so negatively toward her?
6. What is the significance of Duke Frederick’s unexpected and very sudden change in Act V? Discuss this episode in relation to other transformations in the play. What does As You Like It suggest about the malleability of the human experience?
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