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As You Like it: Irrational and Sexual Love Essays

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The universal theme of love seems rather difficult to define. Shakespeare investigates this notion using his play, “As You Like it”; the characters’ actions, speeches and emotions reflect the different types of love according to Shakespeare’s point of view. One type of love, the irrational and exaggerated kind, is portrayed through the character of Silvius. Despite Phoebe’s multiple rejections, the shepherd’s obsession for her stimulates his will to maintain his stream of incessant love declarations. Another type of love is reflected through Touchstone, Duke Frederick’s fool: the purely sexual kind of love, demonstrated in the sexual references Touchstone employs in his journey with Rosalind and Celia. Despite the various types of love displayed in the play, the author also demonstrates a personal interpretation of the ideal love: the balanced and non-physical kind of love. Indeed, throughout the play, Shakespeare uses Ganymede and the Melancholy Jaques to criticize the love between Silvius and Phoebe as well as between Touchstone and Audrey.
First of all, Silvius’ exaggerated view of love displays the irrationality of his love for Phoebe, a rather unattractive young lady as described by Ganymede. As soon as Silvius appears in the play, he explains to Corin, an older shepherd, that no one can possibly understand his obsession for Phoebe:
“O, thou didst never loved so heartily.
If though rememberest not the slightest folly
That ever love did make thee run into,
Thou hast not loved.
Or thou hast not sat as I do now
Wearing thy hearer in thy mistress’ praise,
Thou hast not loved.
Or if thou hast not broke from company
Abruptly, as my passion now makes me,
Thou hast not loved,” (2.4)
Silvius defines real love as a...


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... and extramarital affairs inevitably occur. However, the marriage between Audrey and Touchstone takes place. Shakespeare might imply that purely sexual love cannot be prevented; however, the outcome will never be positive, as demonstrated by the blessing of the priest, “You and you are sure together/ As the winter to foul weather” (5.4). Hence, Shakespeare suggests that relationships based on physical attributes are less stable.
In conclusion, Shakespeare illustrates various types of love using his characters. Silvius portrays the irrational type of love whereas Touchstone represents the purely sexual kind of love. From the analysis of these two characters, Shakespeare suggests that the ideal kind of love is the balanced and non-physical kind of love.



Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. As you like it. [Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press Inc, 2008. Print.


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