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MonkeyNotes-As You Like It by William Shakespeare
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Act II, Scene 4

Summary

The disguised Rosalind and Celia, accompanied by Touchstone, have arrived in the Forest of Arden. All three of them are tired, but the girls feel energized by the pastoral setting. In contrast, Touchstone says that he feels more a fool in the forest and would like to be back at court.

The girls spy two shepherds, Corin and Silvius, and learn that Silvius is in love with Phebe, who scorns him. When Silvius complains that Corin cannot understand the intensity of his love, Corin reminds him that he had also been in love when he was young; now, however, he has no used for romantic fantasies. Rosalind sympathizes with the agony experienced by Silvius, for she herself is agonized by her love for Orlando. After humorously telling how he has also been in love, Touchstone says that being in love is folly.

Rosalind tells Corin that she and Celia are in need of food and lodging. He explains that the cottage of his master is now for sale, along with the pastures. Rosalind suggests that Corin should bargain with the master, and she will pay for the cottage with the gold they have brought with them. Corin agrees to help.

Notes

In this scene, Rosalind comes to the forefront and takes charge. She states that she feels energized by the pastoral setting and by her man's clothing. She comforts and encourages Celia and makes arrangements with Corin to purchase a cottage for she and Celia to stay in.

Corin and Silvius, two shepherds, are stock figures out of a pastoral romance, but Shakespeare uses them to advance his theme of love. When Silvius talks of love, Coring, the old shepherd, reminds the young man that he too had been in love when he was younger, which emphasizes the universality of love. At present, Silvius is madly in love with Phebe, but she scorns him. Rosalind quickly identifies with the young shepherd, for she also feels frustrated in her love for Orlando. Only Touchstone, the fool, dares to laugh at love, just as he derides forest life.

This scene also addresses the fact that people must be realistic, even in the romantic setting of the Forest of Arden. Rosalind understands that she and Celia need to find shelter and food. It is her motivation for engaging the shepherds in conversation. She is relieved to learn that Corin's master has his cottage up for sale. She easily persuades the old shepherd to purchase it for them, with gold that the girls have brought along. She also offers Corin a job that will pay him more than he is currently making.

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