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As You Like It Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to The Norton Shakespeare, second edition, published in 2008.

Quote #1

Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy.
This wide and universal theater
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in. (2.7.142-145)

If the Duke weren't such an upbeat guy, this might leave us a little worried. Even though the world does seem like one big "theater," it's a little depressing to think that our lives are nothing more than a "woeful pageant." It seems like the Duke finds a bit of comfort knowing that human suffering is a universal experience and that there's always someone else in the world with a tougher life than ours.

P.S. Didn't we hear something similar from Macbeth just after he learned that his beloved wife had died? We smell an essay topic!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Quote #2

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. (2.7.146-150)

Hmm. Didn't the Duke just finish saying something very similar?  (See Quote #1 above.) Although we've heard this before, Jaques makes a valid point—the world is often like a stage and Shakespeare likes to remind us of the theatrical nature of life. Here, Shakespeare also reminds us that we are in fact watching a play, which involves a bunch of actors "with their exits and their entrances." Check out "Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory" if you want to know more about this speech.

Quote #3

O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear. (2.7.34-35)

Touchstone takes a lot of flak for being a licensed fool. Here, Jaques is mocking Touchstone's status as a "licensed fool" who wears a "motley" (a rainbow-colored coat that signified his status as a court fool). At the same time, however, fools were highly respected performers—their clowning is not only entertaining, but it's also highly witty. Touchstone, as we know, is a great entertainer and he's also one of the smartest characters in the play. (Second, perhaps, to our girl Rosalind.)

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