As You Like It

by: William Shakespeare

Act II, scenes i–iv

Summary Act II, scenes i–iv

With the introduction of Silvius, As You Like It begins to explore the foolishness of love as opposed to its delightfulness. Unlike Rosalind, who is equipped with enough wit to recognize the silliness of her sudden devotion to Orlando, Silvius is powerless in his attraction to Phoebe. In his laments to Corin in Act II, scene iv, he presents himself as love’s only true victim, and he implies that no one has ever loved as he loves Phoebe. Although Rosalind at first pities the shepherd’s predicament as curiously close to her own, she soon enough comes to share Touchstone’s observation on the necessary foolishness of being in love. As he watches Silvius call out to the absent Phoebe, Touchstone says, “We that are true lovers run into strange capers. But as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly” (II.iv.4749). Touchstone’s inarticulate and rude manner of speaking makes him a true touchstone for Rosalind, bringing into greater relief her supreme eloquence and wit. Here, however, he utters two essential pieces of truth: everything in the natural world is temporary, and every lover naturally behaves like a fool. But the fact that so many characters fall in love in Ardenne proves that they are less love’s victims than its willing subjects.