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As You Like It | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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As You Like It | Epilogue | Summary



Rosalind addresses the audience directly, saying that while it is not the custom for a lady to deliver an epilogue, it's no worse than a man giving the prologue. She says that while a good play needs no epilogue, even a good play can be improved by a good epilogue. However, she has neither a good epilogue, nor can she claim the play is necessarily good. Since she is not dressed as a beggar and thus cannot beg, she will charm the audience instead. She asks the women to like the play as much as they want to, for the love they bear for men. Then she asks the men, for the love they bear women (as she guesses by their smiles that the men do not hate them), that they with the women will find the play pleasing. She says that if she were a woman, she would kiss all the men with "good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths," and she is sure that these same "will, for my kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell."


In Shakespeare's comedies, the epilogue served as an unmistakable cue that the play was over, and that it was now time for the audience to show their appreciation of the entertainment. A main character would return to the stage to humbly make apologies for any defects in the play (such as, in this case, the epilogue being spoken by a female character rather than a male one), to deliver a final joke or display (such as Rosalind's teasing banter about kissing the gentlemen in the audience), and to ask directly for applause ("bid me farewell"). Rosalind's direct reference to gender highlights the convention in Shakespeare's time of having only male actors in plays, even for the female roles. The actor says that "if I were a woman" he would kiss the men, but the audience would have been shocked, indeed, if Rosalind were truly played by a woman at that time.

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