William Shakespeare wrote several romantic comedies, of which As You Like It is the finest. A romantic comedy is a play in which the romantic elements are mingled with comic elements. Although it is a pastoral comedy play, As You Like It works fine as a romantic comedy in its essence.
While the romantic elements like delight and thrill enchant us, the comic elements make us laugh. Thus, a romantic comedy is a marvelous play that appeals greatly to our emotions, imagination, and fancy. The romantic comedy also appeals to our risible faculty.
The romantic elements in this kind of play transport us to a new world that is more pleasing than the actual world in which we live. The comic elements make us laugh and forget our cares and anxieties. As You Like It keeps us laughing most of the time. Rosalind, Celia, Touchstone, Jaques, William, and Audrey aroused laughter in us despite saddening incidents.
Shakespeare’s Inspiration of As You Like It
Shakespeare borrowed the idea of As You Like It or merely sourced its concept to Thomas Lodge’s comedic pastoral novel, Rosalynde: Euphues Golden Legacy.
The author even kept his main characters’ names in this play from Lodge’s mentioned novel.
What Features Do Justify As You Like It As A Romantic Comedy?
Several features of the play justify its description as ‘romantic.’ The very mingling of serious and sad events with amusing scenes and situations is romantic.
The ancient classical plays and the neoclassical plays of the later time were either purely tragic or comic. However, Shakespeare did not hesitate to introduce comic situations and comic characters in his comedies’ tragedies, sad happenings, and pathetic characters.
Thus in As You Like It, the banishment of Duke senior, the no lent quarrel between Orlando and Oliver, Duke Frederick’s shabby treatment of Orlando, and the banishment of Rosalind are all sad happenings. However, the play creates an outstanding effect of comedy which provides much amusement and mirth to us.
As You Like It Debunks Time, Place, And Action Unities
As You Like It is also a romantic play because it does not observe any of the three dramatic unities, namely, the unity of time, place, and action.
The unity of time demands that the action of a play should cover not more than twenty-four hours, while the action of As You Like It occurs over at least days.
The unity of place demands that the entire action occurs in the same town, place, or another place. Nonetheless, in As You Like It, the scenes shift from the city to the forest of Arden, from the forest of Arden back to the city, and then again to the forest of Arden.
The unity of action demands that a play have a single plot and not contain any subplots. However, in As You Like It, we have as many as three sub-plots besides the main plot. In other words, As You Like It has a loose structure.
Youthful And Passionate Romance Is The Core And Striking Element of As You Like It
The most striking romantic element in the play is its theme of youthful and passionate love that has a universal appeal.
Rosalind falls in love with Orlando at first sight, and he falls in love with her at the same instant.
The love of Celia and Oliver, too, is a romantic affair. They, too, fall in love with each other at first sight.
Phoebe’s love for Ganymede also has a romantic basis.
The Romantic Setting of The Play As You Like It
As You Like It is romantic also in its setting. Except for a few scenes initially, the play’s story has been sent to the Forest of Arden, in rural surroundings. The atmosphere at the court and in the city is constantly suffocating. It is not only because of intrigues and jealousies prevailing there but also because of the crowds of people.
Here in the Forest of Arden, one may have to face rough weather and icy wind, but here, one is safe from the dangers of overcrowding and the people’s insincerity. The Forest of Arden stimulates all the faculties of a human being, especially the heart and the feelings.
Moreover, there is something romantic about the attachment of Celia to her cousin Rosalind. It is more evident when Duke Frederick goes away after saying that his decision about Rosalind’s exile is final and irrevocable.
Celia takes the initiative and says that she would accompany Rosalind into her exile. Such affection is heart-touching. Similarly, there is something romantic even about the loyalty and devotion of Adam to Orlando.
In As You Like It, Shakespeare has effectively mingled romance and comedy. The play’s effect is poetic, not satiric. We find an aura of freshness, radiance, and beauty throughout the play.
Indeed As You Like It is a perfect romantic-comedy creation of Shakespeare.
Now, let us have a look at the figure below to get the summary of this article.