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As You Like It Family Quotes

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

Quote #1

As I remember, Adam, it was upon this
fashion bequeathed me by will but poor a thousand
crowns, and, as thou sayest, charged my brother, on
his blessing, to breed me well. And there begins my
sadness. My brother Jaques he keeps at school, and
report speaks goldenly of his profit. For my part, he
keeps me rustically at home, or, to speak more
properly, stays me here at home unkept; for call you
that keeping for a gentleman of my birth, that
differs not from the stalling of an ox? His horses are
bred better, for, besides that they are fair with their
feeding, they are taught their manage and, to that
end riders dearly hired. But I, his brother, gain
nothing under him but growth, for the which his
animals on his dunghills are as much bound to him
as I. Besides this nothing that he so plentifully gives
me, the something that nature gave me his countenance
seems to take from me. He lets me feed with
his hinds, bars me the place of a brother, and, as
much as in him lies, mines my gentility with my
education. This is it, Adam, that grieves me, and the
spirit of my father, which I think is within me,
begins to mutiny against this servitude. I will no
longer endure it, though yet I know no wise remedy
how to avoid it. (1.1.1-25)

Typically, the first lines of any Shakespearean drama alert us to one or more major themes in the play. When As You Like It opens, we learn that family betrayal is going to be a very big deal. Here, youngest son Orlando complains about the effects of primogeniture—Orlando's father has died and social practice has dictated that all of his father's wealth, land, and titles be passed on to the oldest son, Oliver. Oliver was supposed to make sure Orlando received a proper education and grew up with all the privileges and comforts of a gentleman, but Oliver treats his youngest bro more like a servant or an animal. Understandably, Orlando is ready to "mutiny."     

Quote #2

Sweet masters, be patient.  For your
father's remembrance, be at accord.  (1.1.62-63)

Adam is an old servant who has served the de Boys family for-ev-er. Now that Sir Rowland de Boys is dead, he answers to Oliver, even though his loyalties are more closely tied to Orlando. Here, Adam finds himself in the middle (literally) of Oliver and Orlando's big fight, which reminds us of another ancient "Adam" who was involved in the most notorious fraternal feud in the bible. In Genesis, Adam is the first man and the father of Cain, who murders his little brother, Abel. This, of course, doesn't bode well for the Oliver-Orlando situation—as we know, Oliver will later try to pull a Cain and have his brother murdered (1.1.18 and 2.3.2).

Quote #3

There's no news at the court, sir, but the old
news. That is, the old duke is banished by his
younger brother the new duke, and three or four
loving lords have put themselves into voluntary
exile with him, whose lands and revenues enrich
the new duke. Therefore he gives them good leave
to wander. (1.1.97-103)

Hmm. We seem to be detecting a pattern of fraternal discord here. It turns out that Duke Frederick gained power by usurping his older brother's (Duke Senior's) title. Not only that, but Duke Frederick has banished his older brother into exile. Although we're not given any explanations about Frederick's motives, we can certainly speculate. We're guessing that Duke Senior inherited his dukedom from his father because he was the eldest son, which didn't sit well with his little bro, Duke Frederick. If this is the case, then the system of primogeniture has created problems for yet another family. So, Shakespeare seems to be asking the following question: Is it OK for a younger brother to take his older brother's titles/land/wealth/etc.by force, just because he was left out of the family will? Let us know when you work that one out.  

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