Back at the forest Duke Senior and his band of merry men are getting ready to hunt for some dinner.
Duke Senior strikes us as a "glass is half full" kind of guy – he says he loves the forest (even though it's harsh and cold) because the people in it aren't a bunch of backstabbing phonies like those at court.
In fact, says the Duke, despite the lousy weather, the forest is like paradise on earth to him.
Being a philosopher has made Duke Senior hungry and he's craving venison (deer) for dinner. Still, he says he feels a little bad about invading the deer's turf and killing them.
It turns out that a guy named Jaques (one of the Duke's attending lords) hates deer hunting too.
We find out that, earlier, Jaques spotted a deer that had been injured but not killed by a hunter. He then spent a good amount of time lamenting in this vein: the forest belongs to the animals, which were there first. To kill them is to be no better than the usurping Duke Frederick that stole Duke Senior's kingdom. Jaques made all these long comments while standing by and watching the deer suffer and cry. He resented other deer passers-by for trotting on past their fallen comrade. Jaques compared the deer's deliberate ignorance of their fellow deer's suffering to the mean manner of the court. (Check out "Symbolism" for more on this deer business.)
That's it for the tale. The Duke, hearing of Jaques's suffering, says he'd like to go and see the guy, because it's fun to talk with him when he's in this profound melancholy state (which, it turns out, is always).