As You Like It

William Shakespeare
No Fear Act 5 Scene 4
No Fear Act 5 Scene 4 Page 10

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It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue, but it is no more unhandsome than to see the lord the prologue. If it be true that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes, and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in, then, that am neither a good epilogue nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play. I am not furnished like a beggar; therefore to beg will not become me. My way is to conjure you, and I’ll begin with the women. I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as please you. And I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women— as I perceive by your simpering, none of you hates them— that between you and the women the play may please. If I were a woman, I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me, and breaths that I defied not. And I am sure as many as have good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths will, for my kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.


You don’t usually see a woman deliver an epilogue, but it’s no worse than seeing a man deliver the prologue. If it’s true that you don’t need


Branches of ivy were hung in tavern windows to advertise the wine.

to sell good wine, then it should also be true that a good play doesn’t need an epilogue. But they use good-quality ivy to sell good wine, and a good play is improved by a good epilogue. But then I’m in a strange position, as I not only do not have a good epilogue, I’m not sure this was a good play. I’m not dressed like a beggar, so it wouldn’t be becoming for me to beg. No, instead I’ll bewitch you, and I’ll start with the women. Women, in the name of the love you have for men, I demand that you like as much of this play as you feel like. Men, in the name of the women you love—and I can guess by your goofy smiles that none of you exactly hates them—the play will act as a nice toy for you and the


In Shakespeare’s day, boys played all the women’s parts.

to share. If I actually were a woman, I’d kiss all of you that have beards that pleased me, complexions that I liked, and breath that wasn’t foul. And I’m sure that all of you with nice beards, good faces, and sweet breath will, when I curtsy good night, give me a nice round of applause.
She exits.