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How does Shakespeare present the two different worlds of Court life and the rural idyll of the 'Golden Age' in As You Like It?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare present the two different worlds of Court life and the rural idyll of the 'Golden Age' in As You Like It? As You Like It is a pastoral piece of literature and this form of literature thrives on the contrast between life in the city and life in the country. Typically, it suggests that the oppression from the Court can be remedied by a trip into the country's therapeutic woods which in this case refers to the Forest of Arden and that a person's sense of balance and rightness can be restored by the uncorrupted shepherds and shepherdesses. This restored rightness enables one to return to the Court a better person. In this play the character of whom this affects is Oliver de Boys Although Shakespeare tests the bounds of these conventions, the shepherdess Audrey as an example, is neither articulate nor pure. He begins As You Like It by establishing the city/country dichotomy on which the pastoral mood depends. The play ends with Shakespeare reminding us that life in the country is solely a temporary affair. I have gathered this because as the characters prepare to return to life at court, they do not rank the country over Court or vice versa, but instead they suggest a delicate balance between the two as too much of one thing is seen as being negative. ...read more.

Middle

'I do not know what poetical is. Is it honest in deed and word? Is it a true thing?' A contrast between Touchstone's sophisticated language and Audrey's simpleness is: (Touchstone) 'A material fool.' and Audrey's simple reply: 'In the light of this, his words seem quite cruel.' Audrey's reply Touchstone's comment shows truly just how simple she is. Attire in the Court also showed its superiority over the country as attire in the Court was more colourful, colours showed status in the Court, there were also more materials readily available from the court as they had the methods of creating different materials. Whereas, on the other hand attire in the country was very dull, with colours such as blacks, greys, browns, dark blues and sometimes reds were the only colours that were readily available. However, colour did not denote status in the country as status did not matter and everyone in the country just wore garments that they could fashion from what little materials they could gather. This was shown in a recent performance of the play at The Globe, where the costumes of Court dwellers showed their status, but those who lived in the country had plain dull coloured costumes. On the contrary to the corrupt life in the Court, life in the country was peaceful and idyllic. ...read more.

Conclusion

A good example of this is when Amiens sings under a tree, he sings of 'Mans ingratitude.' His song is one of cheerful and lighthearted demeanour and this befits life within the forest: 'Heigh- ho, the holly! This life is most jolly!' The country, however, although being seen as inferior to the court in retrospect, is actually, in most cases, just as civilized as the Court itself. This is mostly due to Duke Senior and his followers in the Forest of Arden. They bring an air of class to the country with their manners, attire, attitudes and the way they live. They also bring some civility which is displayed at Duke Seniors feast in the forest. They display manners and mannerisms that depict their courtly past. An example of this is when Orlando disrupts the feast in a fierce rage with sword drawn. Duke Senior shows civility and calms Orlando down with words and actions. Whereas, normally in the country, if this had happened then there would almost certainly had been a scuffle erupt. 'More than your force move us to gentleness. Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.' In conclusion life in the Court and life in the country were two very contrasting things with the court showing sophistication, affluence, kindness to a certain degree, civil behavior but it also shows a side of corruption, violence and jealousy. The country displays peace, harmony, beauty but also shows a side of simpleness and lack of intelligence within its inhabitants By Joshua Alexander Evans ...read more.

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