Summary of the poem “As You Like It”

Duke Frederick, a usurper, has deposed and banished his elder brother, the lawful duke. The banished duke, driven from his dukedom, now lives in the forest of Arden with some of his faithful followers. But the banished duke’s daughter is allowed to remain at the court because she is closest companion to Celia, Frederick’s only daughter. While the lawful duke spends a careless life in the forest of Arden, the thought of her father’s banishment and her dependence on Frederick make Rosalind sad. However, Celia comforts and consoles Rosalind.
One day a messenger from the duke invites Rosalind and Celia to see a wrestling match. Thinking that it would divert Rosalind, Celia agrees and both Rosalind and Celia come to the wrestling arena. They find that it is a match between the skilled court wrestler and an inexperienced young man. So all beholders think the match is likely to be a tragic one since the young wrestler would certainly be killed. The duke asks Rosalind and Celia to prevent the young man from wrestling. But the young man refuses their request in order to distinguish himself in front of the fair ladies. In the match, encouraged by the kindness of the fair and noble ladies, the young wrestler wins. The duke’s pleasure at the courage and skill of the young wrestler changes into displeasure when the identity of the young wrestler is revealed. But Rosalind instantly falls in love with the young wrestler, Orlando, who is a son of her father’s friend, Rowland de Boys. She gives him her chain as a memento.

Orlando’s win and people’s praise for Rosalind’s virtues make Duke Frederick suddenly becomes so angry with Rosalind that he banishes her from the court. Celia and Rosalind decide to run away to the Forest of Arden. To avoid danger, the two women disguise themselves: Rosalind as a country boy named Ganymede, and Celia as his sister, Aliena. In the Forest of Arden, they buy a cottage from a shepherd and lead a new way of life.

Orlando, too, comes to the Forest of Arden. When his father died, he had left Orlando in the care of Oliver, his eldest son. But Oliver neglected Orlando’s education and upbringing. Oliver plans to kill Orlando. After Orlando learns from their old servant, Adam, of Oliver’s plan, he and Adam flee to the Forest of Arden. With hunger, Adam becomes so weak that he cannot move. Leaving Adam under the shelter of some pleasant trees, Orlando, arrives at the lawful duke’s camp and demands food for Adam and himself. The duke shares his food willingly, and Orlando and Adam join the duke. Orlando’s identity is revealed and the duke takes them under his wing.

Unable to target Rosalind, Orlando hangs poems on trees in her praise. Ganymede, Rosalind in disguise, finds the verses and promises to help Orlando get over his lovesickness. Orlando, as prescribed by Ganymede, agrees to pretend that Ganymede is his Rosalind and to visit her everyday. One morning when Orlando is going to visit Ganymede, he saves a man from the danger of a venomous snake and a furious lioness. But he himself gets terribly wounded as the lioness has torn one of his arms with her sharp claws. The man whom Orlando saves at the risk of his own life is his cruel brother, Oliver, who treated Orlando cruelly. Oliver repents of his unworthy conduct and begs his brother’s pardon. Orlando readily forgives Oliver and sends him to Gandymede’s cottage to tell him and Aliena what has happened to him. Oliver goes to the cottage and explains how Orlando saved his life, and how he himself was wounded. On hearing this, Rosalind Ganymede faints. But Oliver and Aliena instantly fall in love with each other. Returning to his brother, Oliver gives an account of everything that happened in the cottage. Orlando agrees to arrange for the wedding of Oliver and Aliena. Ganymede also promises to make Rosalind appear in her own person, if Orlando really loves her. The lawful duke also gives his consent.

As agreed, everyone meets at the duke’s camp the following day. The duke promises that if Ganymede can produce his daughter, he will allow Orlando to marry her. Rosalind and Celia leave the camp and return without their disguises. Rosalind begs her father’s blessing. Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, get married at the same time. While all are enjoying the double wedding, the festivities are interrupted by the news that Duke Frederick has given up worldly pleasures and returned the dukedom to the lawful duke. The joyful news heightens the rejoicing. The duke has now an opportunity to reward his true friends who had patiently shared his adverse fortune. His followers are very pleased at the return of peace and prosperity in the palace of their lawful duke.

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