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As You Like It

As You Like It

 Table of Contents

As You Like It Foolishness and Folly Quotes

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

Quote #1

From henceforth I will, coz, and devise sports.
Let me see; what think you of falling in love?
Marry, I prithee, do, to make sport withal; but love no man
in good earnest, nor no further in sport neither than with safety
of a pure blush thou mayst in honour come off again. (1.2.3)

From the play's very beginning, love is associated with foolishness and folly.  Here, Rosalind and Celia think of "falling in love" as nothing more than an amusing "sport" that will help pass the time. 

Quote #2

The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely what
wise men do foolishly. (1.2.7)

After Rosalind tells Touchstone to stop talking, Touchstone complains that, in the court, fools' words have no merit, but sometimes fools are best able to comment on what is really going on.  Although Touchstone ultimately obeys Rosalind, the truth is that Touchstone is a "licensed fool" (a guy who literally has a license to say whatever he wants without getting into trouble).   Paid fools were pretty common in the households of royalty and nobility in Elizabethan England and they pop up all over in Shakespearean drama.  Even though they clown around a lot, they're typically the smartest characters in the plays.  For example, think of the Fool in King Lear and Feste in Twelfth Night.

Quote #3

Stand you both forth now: stroke your chins, and
swear by your beards that I am a knave.
By our beards, if we had them, thou art.
By my knavery, if I had it, then I were. But if you
swear by that that not, you are not forsworn; no more was this
knight, swearing by his honour, for he never had any; or if he
had, he had sworn it away before ever he saw those pancakes or
that mustard. (1.2.5)

Touchstone responds to Celia's accusation that he is a "knave" (foolish idiot).   On the surface, Touchstone's response seems like total nonsense that's designed to make us laugh, which it does.  (After all, what the heck do mustard and pancakes have to do with anything?)  At the same time, Touchstone is the master of witty argumentation.  Here, he points out that you can't be accused of lying if you swear on your honor and it turns out that you don't have any honor to begin with.  Of course, if you would swear by what you do not have, you are dishonorable to begin with.  Sigh.

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