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Top 10 Notes: As You Like It

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Baptised on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, William Shakespeare started his career as an actor and a writer. He’s most known for his tragedies and comedies, with “As You Like It” being one of his most loved and most performed plays. Welcome to and in this instalment of Mojo Notes, we’ll be exploring ten pieces you should know about William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

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In this play’s most famous speech, the world’s a stage while we’re merely players. Welcome to and in this instalment of Mojo Notes, we’ll be exploring ten things you should know about William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”

#10 – About the Author

Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in the mid-16th century, William Shakespeare went to grammar school as a boy and married Anne Hathaway at age 18. In the late 1500s, he began acting in his own stage plays and those of others. The Bard of Avon also wrote sonnets and poems. His success allowed him to have a playing company, and they constructed a playhouse called the Globe Theatre. He died in 1616.

#9 – Influences and Inspirations

“As You Like It” is a comedy that belongs to the pastoral literary genre because of its ideal representation of the simple, country life of shepherds over more complicated, urban living. While it features both prose and verse, it has many songs, which also makes it a musical comedy.

#8 – Settings and Era

Written between 1599-1600 in London, England, this comedy is set during the 16th century in a Duke-ruled territory in France. The main action takes place in the fictional Forest of Arden. This natural setting is meant to contrast with the Duke’s interior court by showing us love is able to grow outside where you’re truly free.

#7 – Plot

The play follows the story of Rosalind, who is forced to leave the Duke’s court by her uncle after she falls in love with Orlando. Dressed up as a man named Ganymede, Rosalind heads to the Forest of Arden with her cousin Celia, who is disguised as a poor woman named Aliena. This is where Rosalind-as-Ganymede teaches Orlando about love while love begins to blossom between several shepherds and shepherdesses. By the end, Rosalind, Orlando and various characters all find love and marry and Duke Frederick gives his brother back his title. Since it’s narrated by various characters, the play provides opportunities for its protagonists to discuss subjects like love, aging, the natural world and death, from their particular viewpoints.

#6 – Rosalind

Rosalind is the daughter of Duke Senior, who’s been exiled by his brother and her uncle Duke Frederick. As the play’s female lead and heroine, she’s beautiful, smart and loyal to her loved ones. She dresses up as the shepherd Ganymede to protect herself after she’s banished from the court and teaches Orlando how to treat a lady. Her bravery and cleverness ultimately ensure a happy ending for all.

#5 – Orlando

The son of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, Orlando de Boys is constantly mistreated by his older brother and heir to the de Boys fortune, Oliver. Though Orlando’s quick to take out his anger, his attitude changes when he falls in love with Rosalind. He becomes a sensitive and romantic fellow with a lot to learn, as Rosalind-as-Genymede demonstrates. However, Orlando doesn’t let the past haunt him though, and saves his brother’s life before play’s end.

#4 – Celia

Celia is the daughter of Duke Frederick. Her bond with Rosalind is so strong that she’s willing to flee with her cousin. Celia differs from Rosalind in that she’s more shy and cautious. Though she initially thinks love is silly and appears bitter when they encounter Orlando in the forest, Celia changes her tune when she falls in love with Oliver.

#3 – Values and Themes

The play’s main theme is love and how it can affect people’s behavior and actions. This includes making us do foolish things, though that’s just part of human nature. The notion of power and taking control over another person’s rights is demonstrated by Frederick’s exile of his brother the Duke and Oliver’s tyranny of Orlando. In addition to the themes of family and change, “As You Like It” also explores the differences between urban and country life.

#2 - Modern Popularity

First published in 1623, “As You Like It” initially divided critics but delighted audiences and continues to do so today. As one of the Bard’s most performed comedies, it also coined the expression “too much of a good thing” and gave us one of the playwright’s most well-known speeches, which is spoken by Jacques de Bois.

#1 – Adaptations

Aside from inspiring songs, musicals and theatrical productions, the play has also been adapted for the screen multiple times. Notable versions include the black-and-white 1936 movie with Laurence Olivier, a BBC 1978 take with Helen Mirren, and Kenneth Branagh’s 2006 film set in 19th century Japan.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite piece of “As You Like It” trivia? For more informative top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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