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As You Like It | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "As You Like It Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 July 2017. Web. 7 June 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. "As You Like It Study Guide." July 13, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2023.


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As You Like It | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Act 1

As You Like It is set in France in the early 1600s and follows the love story of Rosalind and Orlando. The action takes place at the court of Duke Frederick and in the nearby Forest of Arden. As the play opens Orlando is quarreling with his older brother Oliver over his inheritance. He complains that Oliver has not given him a proper gentleman's education after the death of their father. Oliver threatens Orlando, and Orlando grabs Oliver by the throat and defies his older brother before releasing him. After the fight Oliver persuades the wrestler Charles to injure Orlando in a wrestling match the next day. Meanwhile Frederick's daughter Celia tries to cheer up her dear cousin Rosalind, who is depressed because her father, Duke Senior, has been banished by his usurping brother, Duke Frederick.

Rosalind and Celia attend the wrestling match and there meet Orlando, who easily bests Charles despite the brute's undefeated status. Orlando and Rosalind fall in love at first sight, and Rosalind gives him a necklace as a prize for winning. When Duke Frederick learns that Orlando's father is his former enemy, he is displeased, and courtier Le Beau warns Orlando to clear out. Immediately thereafter, Orlando is warned by his servant Adam that his brother plans to kill him that night. Faced with no options, Orlando flees to the Forest of Arden, and loyal Adam accompanies him. Orlando is not the only one to displease Duke Frederick; Duke Frederick has become disenchanted with Rosalind, as well, believing that she outshines his daughter Celia. He banishes Rosalind from court, and Celia decides to follow her into exile in Arden as she cannot bear to be parted from her dearest friend. The two adopt disguises, with Rosalind becoming the young man Ganymede and Celia pretending to be Aliena, a peasant girl. Touchstone the fool goes with them.

Act 2

Duke Senior, Rosalind's father, and his men have taken up residence in the Forest of Arden during his exile. All of the men have given up their lands and wealth to follow Duke Senior into banishment. Among them is witty, philosophical Jaques, who enjoys being depressed and never misses an opportunity to bemoan his situation. The men hunt for deer and set up a picnic under a tree when Orlando bursts upon them with a sword. He is desperate for food for himself and Adam as the old man is weak from hunger and travel. Duke Senior graciously invites them both to join his party.

Act 3

Back at court Duke Frederick has discovered Celia missing, and he believes she and Rosalind have gone off with Orlando. He then takes Oliver's lands into temporary custody and sends Oliver to find his brother in hope of locating Celia.

Orlando writes love poems to Rosalind and posts them on trees throughout the forest. In her disguise as Ganymede, Rosalind issues a witty challenge to Orlando. She claims she can cure him of his love if he will woo her as if she were Rosalind. He agrees to do so and promises to meet her later. At the same time Touchstone has fallen in love with goat herder Audrey and tries to arrange a quickie wedding, which Jaques talks him out of in favor of a more official ceremony. As Rosalind and Celia wait for Orlando, they witness a spat between the young shepherd Silvius and shepherdess Phoebe, who scorns his love. Rosalind butts in as Ganymede, advising Phoebe to accept the young man, but instead Phoebe falls instantly for Ganymede.

Act 4

Orlando arrives late, and Ganymede scolds him for his tardiness, claiming there is no true love in him. Nonetheless, she allows him to woo her, and they agree to meet again later that day after he attends on Duke Senior. This time while they wait, Silvius delivers to Ganymede a letter from Phoebe and is crushed to learn that it is a love letter. He departs, and Oliver arrives bearing a bloody handkerchief. He explains that Orlando has rescued him from a snake and a lion, and was wounded in the fray. The two have been reconciled through Orlando's brave act. Ganymede faints but quickly comes to and says it was merely playacting.

Act 5

Ganymede devises a plan to bring all the couples together to be married the next day. She promises to marry Phoebe if Phoebe will have her and extracts a promise from Phoebe that she will marry Silvius if she doesn't marry Ganymede.

Everyone gathers the next day, and Rosalind reveals her disguise as Ganymede. Her father, Duke Senior, gives her to Orlando to wed, and Phoebe agrees to go through with marrying Silvius as promised. Touchstone and Audrey will also be married, as will Celia and Oliver, who have fallen in love at first sight. The god of marriage, Hymen, performs the ceremony. Just then another brother of Oliver and Orlando arrives with the news that Duke Frederick has converted to a life of religion and has returned his wealth, lands, and position to Duke Senior. The nobles resolve to return to court after the wedding celebration, but Jaques vows to follow Duke Frederick instead, preferring to learn what he may from the convert rather than return to court. The play ends with an epilogue in which Rosalind begs the favor of the audience in the form of applause for the actors.

As You Like It Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Orlando fights with Oliver, who plots to kill him.

Rising Action

2 Rosalind and Orlando meet and fall instantly in love.

3 Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind from court.

4 Rosalind and Celia, disguised, flee to the Forest of Arden.

5 Orlando and Adam flee to Arden and meet Duke Senior.

6 Orlando woos Rosalind, who is disguised as Ganymede.

7 Frederick takes Oliver's lands and makes him seek Orlando.

8 Orlando saves Oliver from a lion, and they are reconciled.


9 Oliver reveals Orlando has been wounded; Rosalind faints.

Falling Action

10 Rosalind arranges marriages among several couples.

11 Duke Senior is restored to his power and wealth.


12 Rosalind reveals her disguise; the couples are married.

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