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As You Like It - Act 1

  • Date Submitted: 01/27/2010 11:04 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 49.9 
  • Words: 1368
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In an examination of Shakespeare’s dramatic methods, discuss how effectively you think Act 1 arouses the audience’s interest?

In your answer consider:

 Significant aspects of staging

 Language including imagery and symbolism

 Character interactions

The opening scene, in which there is nothing light – hearted or humorous, is completely expository and contrived but fulfilling its function of revealing the plot line to the audience. The fact that Shakespeare uses this kind of dramatic technique in the first scene twice shows that he wants to make the wickedness of Oliver perfectly clear. The action starts when Orlando, the younger brother decides to rebel against the oppression of his older brother, who is treating him like a common pheasant. He tells Oliver:

‘The spirit of my father, which I think is within me, begins to mutiny against this servitude. I will no longer endure it, yet I know no wise remedy how to avoid it.’

Orlando’s complaints are completely justified, as Oliver is mean spirited and malicious in the treatment of Orlando, which the audience can clearly see from this opening scene. Oliver appears cold and distant when he speaks with Orlando:

‘Now, sir, what make you here?’

-And this contrasts greatly with the ‘sisterly bond’ between Rosalind and Celia. Orlando approaches Oliver with defiance and a confrontational attitude, arousing the audiences interest at this quarrel, and establishing his character: assertive, honest and bold, a character that every audience will like and take an interest in. Oliver also shows that he is adept in the wordplay matches the play holds. Orlando and Oliver exchange much verbal sparring in the first scene, including when Orlando seizes his brother by the throat, Oliver exclaims,

‘Wilt thou lay hands on me, villain?’

Orlando picks up the root meaning of these words, that he is a...


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