Shakespeare at Winedale wordmark
Shakespeare at Winedale

As You Like It Synopsis

As You LIke It

In France, Oliver de Boys denies his younger brother, Orlando, the inheritance and proper education promised him after the death of their father, Sir Rowland. Looking to earn honor elsewhere, Orlando challenges Charles, the new duke’s wrestler, to a match. Oliver, jealous of his well-loved brother, instructs Charles to break Orlando’s neck during the bout.

Duke Frederick has supplanted his brother, Duke Senior, and forced him (along with several loyal courtiers) into exile in the forest of Arden. Rosalind, daughter of Duke Senior, is allowed to remain in court due to her close friendship with Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter and her cousin.

Against all odds, Orlando bests Charles in their wrestling match. Rosalind watches the fight, and she and Orlando fall instantly in love. But all is not well. Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind impulsively from court. Celia cannot bear to part with Rosalind, so they flee together to Arden, taking Duke Frederick’s court jester, Touchstone, with them for entertainment on the way. For their safety, Rosalind and Celia go in disguise—Rosalind as a young man named Ganymede and Celia as his sister, Aliena. Orlando too, his life in jeopardy, retreats to the forest. Adam, elderly servant of the de Boys family, accompanies him.

In Arden, Rosalind’s party meets two shepherds, Corin and Silvius, and learns of the latter’s unrequited love for the shepherdess Phoebe. Rosalind and Celia purchase a flock and pasture to live temporarily as shepherds. Elsewhere in the forest, Orlando and Adam, starving almost to death, are taken in by Duke Senior and his lords. Among these lords is the melancholy Jaques, a contrast to the high-spirited optimism found elsewhere in Arden.

Orlando, smitten, hangs bad love poems for Rosalind on the trees. Rosalind, disguised as Ganymede, offers to cure Orlando of his love, both to test it and help him woo more agreeably. Orlando accepts, and so he must pretend Ganymede is Rosalind and woo the young boy as if he were his love. Touchstone woos a goatherd named Audrey. Phoebe, disdaining Silvius, instead falls in love with Ganymede. Duke Frederick, thinking Rosalind and Celia fled with Orlando, seizes Oliver’s house and lands and sends him to Arden to track down his brother. And so the characters try to mend broken families, adjust to rural life, and find love in the forest.