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As You Like It | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "As You Like It Study Guide." July 13, 2017. Accessed June 10, 2023.


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As You Like It | Act 2, Scene 2 | Summary



Duke Frederick discovers that Celia is missing, having joined Rosalind in banishment. "Can it be possible that no man saw them?" he queries, immediately suspecting villainy among the members of his court. The First Lord assures Duke Frederick that Celia escaped unseen during the night, her bed being found empty in the morning. The Second Lord points out that the fool has also gone missing and shares a bit of gossip. Celia's servant, Hisperia, had overheard Celia and Rosalind praising Orlando, and she believes the two women may be in his company. Duke Frederick orders his lords to fetch Orlando immediately, and if he cannot be found to bring his brother, Oliver, instead. Duke Frederick will then compel Oliver to locate Orlando. Duke Frederick orders his attendant lords to search for and inquire after the "foolish runaways" until they are brought home.


Whether Duke Frederick has any fatherly love for Celia is unclear; he shows no concern for her safety but rather seems angry or annoyed that she is gone. He lumps her in with Touchstone, calling them both "foolish runaways" since they have gone with Rosalind of their own accord. It is likely he simply doesn't like to be disobeyed, and he wants to force his will onto those who are supposed to obey it. His instant suspicion that someone on the inside has aided their escape hints again at the intrigues of the court as a theme in the play, as does the chain of gossip that reveals clues to Celia's whereabouts. In the end Duke Frederick acts on secondhand news overheard from servants, guessing that the runaways have gone with Orlando. He has no way of knowing this for sure, but that won't stop him from making life difficult for Oliver. After all he's the duke, and he can do what he wants.

Duke Frederick and Oliver share some important characteristics that parallel one another throughout the play. Both have power over and treat their brothers abominably. Duke Frederick usurps Duke Senior's throne and exiles him to the forest, penniless. Oliver, on the other hand, does provide something for his brother Orlando, but just barely. In point of fact it's hard to say who is the greater villain at this stage, but perhaps it is Oliver. At least Duke Frederick never plotted to kill Duke Senior! Duke Frederick doesn't have much self-awareness of his own villainy, however; he criticizes Oliver for not loving his brother but overlooks the same trait in his own behavior. Oliver, though, recognizes his own villainy when he plots to kill Orlando and when he admits he does not love him.

In contrast to these two scoundrels, the goodness of Duke Senior and Orlando shines all the more brightly. Each pair of brothers has one "good" and one "bad" character, with the virtuous brothers (Orlando and Duke Senior) being persecuted by the villainous brothers (Oliver and Duke Senior). Throughout the play their paths will continue to parallel each other in various ways.

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