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Touchstone Timeline and Summary

  • 1.2: Touchstone has just interrupted Celia and Rosalind chatting. He tells a little story about a knight who swore on honor he didn't possess, and so was not a liar, just a dishonorable man. It's a motif of sorts for our court fool. He plays on his foolishness, asking the girls to swear by their beards. As they have no beards, perhaps he's not a knave after all.
  • 1.2: Touchstone's foolish speech rings wise as he comments on Duke Frederick's wickedness. He laments that, sadly, fools aren't allowed to speak wisely on what wise men do foolishly, though they are capable of doing so.
  • 2.4: Touchstone notes that, though he is in Arden, he isn't transformed out of his position as a court fool—instead, he is a bigger fool here in the forest. Touchstone is content with this.
  • 2.4: Touchstone remembers the last time he was in love, which was shady and apparently more about conquest in bed than visions of romance.
  • 2.4: Touchstone says he wouldn't be aware of his own wit unless he tripped over it.
  • 3.2: Corin the shepherd tries to make small talk with Touchstone, asking how he likes the country life. Touchstone refuses to give him a straight answer. Life in the country, from Touchstone's balanced perspective, isn't good or bad—it just is.
  • 3.2: Touchstone is now definitely having fun at Corin's expense. He claims that the court is the source of good manners, which are next to godliness, so therefore anyone out of court is surely damned.
  • 3.2: Now Touchstone really argues with Corin, claiming that the country should breed as good a set of manners as the court (yes, he's contradicting his earlier position). He uses nitpicky logic against Corin's statements, and then harps on the fact that Corin makes his living by breeding animal.
  • 3.2: Touchstone makes a mockery of Orlando's loving rhymes for Rosalind. He delivers his own set of rhymes about horny cats, deer in heat, nuts, and women of ill repute, comparing all of them to Rosalind. Saucy indeed.
  • 3.3: Audrey and Touchstone cavort about with some goats, and Touchstone, shockingly, seems to have fallen for Audrey. He makes a lot of jokes that go over Audrey's head, but essentially implies he's glad she's not too bright and not too pretty.
  • 3.3: Audrey notes that she's glad she's not a prostitute, and he praises the gods that she's ugly, as being prettier might have made her less pure. Suddenly, Touchstone brings up the fact that he's gotten a vicar from the next village over to marry them. We're all a little shocked that he should turn out to be the marrying kind.
  • 3.3: Touchstone gives us a funny speech about how being married isn't so bad, as the horns of a cuckold—or more colloquially, a whipped husband—are more honorable than the bare brow of a bachelor.
  • 3.3: Touchstone makes a string of analogies about nature: As a falcon needs a bell, so too does man have his desires. Or, more appropriate to Touchstone's case, he needs to get married because a man has needs.
  • 3.3: Touchstone points out that getting an inexperienced village vicar to marry him and Audrey under a bush is actually a great idea, because the less formal their marriage is, the less binding, leaving him free to "marry" another maid later.
  • 5.1: Touchstone chats up Audrey and mentions he's heard of a forest youth who also has a crush on her.
  • 5.1: Touchstone claims that meeting fools is the very sustenance of his life, and admits he can't hold himself back from making a mockery. Just then, Audrey's poor, unsuspecting admirer, William, shows up. Touchstone has a series of jokes at his expense, centered on the fact that the boy says he has some fine wit himself. Touchstone then, suddenly a philosopher king, points out that only wise men know they are fools, and only fools think themselves wise men, which would have been original if Socrates hadn't already said it. He lights into poor William and eventually sends him packing, threatening to kill him if he shows his face again.
  • 5.4: Touchstone argues to the lords assembled around Duke Senior that he is a court man, having done all the courtly things; he's danced, lied to women, betrayed his friends, chatted up his enemies, failed to pay his extraordinary bills at three tailors' places, and also backed away from every fight he started.
  • 5.4: In chatting up the Duke, Touchstone elaborates on his desire to marry Audrey amid the "country copulatives." She may be unattractive, but Audrey is honest (meaning chaste).
  • 5.4: Touchstone distracts everyone from the suspense of waiting for Rosalind to show up by outlining the courtly facts of fighting. We get a long story about the art of a quarrel. Touchstone describes in detail one particular argument he started with some fellow over the cut of the other guy's beard.
  • 5.4: Touchstone reiterates the seven degrees of lying, and points out that any disagreement can be avoided by "equivocation," or talking around the truth. One need only put in an "if," as in "If you said that, then I said this," and the truth is as good as hidden, the fight over, and everyone happy with their share of lies. This is Touchstone's last speech in the play, so it's representative of how he thinks. As long as everyone's a bit happier, the means to happiness (and implicitly the truth) are immaterial.