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As You Like It | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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As You Like It | Act 4, Scene 2 | Summary



Duke Senior's Lords have killed a deer in their hunt, and Jaques proposes they should present the hunter who took it down to Duke Senior "like a Roman conqueror," with the deer's horns on his head as a sign of victory. He begs a song from one of the lords, who obliges him. "What shall he have that killed the deer?" the man sings. "His leather skin and horns to wear" is the answer. The song advises that one should not be ashamed to wear the horns for they've been worn for many generations before. The horn "is not a thing to laugh to scorn," the song proclaims in its final line.


This scene serves as a pastoral interlude to entertain the audience rather than progressing the plot or revealing important information about the characters. Jaques thinks presenting the hunter as a conqueror wearing the deer's horns will amuse Duke Senior, nothing more, and he asks for a song to lighten the load of carrying the deer back to camp. The song has as its theme the deer's horns, which are a symbol for cuckoldry. This alludes to the overall theme of love and marriage in the play, illustrating one more aspect of love that was a common belief of the time: that every man will be cheated on by his wife, and therefore, there is no shame in it since it is a universal condition.

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