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Essay on As You Like It by William Shakespeare

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It is present from the beginning of William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, that the qualities within male and female relationships are vastly different. Some of the most vital elements within the play are these bonds between the same-sex relationships and the strength of them to endure hardships. Oliver and Orlando’s strained fraternal relationship is consumed by brotherly resentment, disloyalty and blunt abusive behaviour evident from the outbreak of disagreements that occur between the two men. In distinct contrast, the relationship between Celia and Rosalind is portrayed by Shakespeare to be filled with undeniable devotion, concern and respect between the two women throughout the duration of the play. It is from these relations that we can infer that Shakespeare is intentionally portraying relations between female as the healthier, more productive relationship when compared to the male ones in the play. The polarity between gender relationships is a stark contrast; one that is emphasized and enforced by the decisions and actions undertaken by characters in the play, especially within scenes found in Act One.
In Shakespeare's play, the death of a male figurehead in a noble family traditionally requires the eldest male heir to take his younger siblings under his care and provide for them. Despite the ‘noblesse oblige’ expectation in the society of the play, Oliver continues to disregard his youngest brother’s needs, leaving Orlando to fend for himself. Oliver does not realize the potential harm his negligence is causing Orlando from an intellectually and social standpoint. Orlando’s lack of education will preventing him from integrating into society. The young Orlando becomes resentful of his older brother because Oliver is ...


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...enders as they were in Elizabethan society through common relationship stereotypes; the docile nature of women in relationship versus the aggressive, territorial nature of men. However, with the textual evidence provided in various encounters between individuals of the same-sex, males relationships, especially between brothers, are shown by Shakespeare to be filled with resentment and disloyalty, whereas female relationships are filled with love and honesty.


Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Ed. Leah S. Marcus. New York: Norton & Company, 2012. Print.

Bevington, David. “As You Like It: Critical Reception.” Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria, 2010. http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/Texts/AYL/intro/ CriticalSurvey/work/

William Shakespeare, As You Like It, dir. Kenneth Branagh (HBO and BBC Films, 2006), YouTube.


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