«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
That As You Like It is explicitly and even aggressively concerned with ambition has been recognised by a number of critics. Judy Kronenfeld anticipates Montrose's perception that shepherds may negotiate a conflict between Christian and aristocratic values.' 7 Applying this to As You Like It, she finds a surprising ambiguity in the depiction of courtiers' virtue relative 56 Louis A. Montrose. "The Place of a Brother" in As You Like It: Social Process and Comic Form', Sh. O. 32 (1981), 28-54, 40. Montrose suggests that the audience takes a similar imaginative journey in its withdrawal into the theatrical space. The Epilogue conducts it back across the threshold into the 'real' world.
57 Judy Z. Kronenfeld, 'Social Rank and the Pastoral Ideals of As You Like It', Sh. Q. 29 (1978), 333-48, 335.
to that of shepherds. 38 Ralph Berry sees the play's characters driven by the urge to dominate one another as they negotiate the new hierarchy which exists in the forest, one that turns out to be almost an exact replica of that which previously existed in the court. 59 It is partly the forest's similarity to the court world that will enable Orlando to achieve his ambitions. The education he receives in the forest qualifies him to wield power in the world outside. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Valentine regrets that his friend Proteus will not join him in his
journey to the Emperor's court:
Where Proteus is merely shapeless, Orlando believes himself to have been 'marred' by a brother's neglect (1.1.30-2). On the assumption that he is neither illiterate nor without grace (Oliver confirms that his brother has somehow educated himself), Orlando needs a sojourn at court to mould him into his desired and his natural shape. This is exactly what exile in Arden offers him. At home Orlando has been painfully aware of his imagined bestiality (1.1.9, 13-4, 17, 35). When he and Adam stumble into the forest, Arden seems to take on the savagery of which Orlando would accuse himself. It is an 'uncouth forest' of predatory animals in which he expects to meet only what is savage. Against this backdrop, he begins to identify himself with civility. Nevertheless, when he bursts upon the Duke's feast and offers to take food by force, Orlando is once again identified with the uncouth. The Duke responds that either he
must be in desperate circumstances or a 'rude despiser of good manners' Orlando responds:
58 Ibid., 344-7. Kronenfeld refers to the debate between Touchstone and Corin as "a contrast between the pretended gentleman and the real shepherd - a contrast not disadvantageous to the real shepherd' and finds other such representations of the artificiality of the courtier.
59 'No Exit from Arden' MLR 66 (1971), 11-20.
Orlando assumes that if they have known city life, they have known 'better days' and must therefore be ashamed to contemplate their fall. His speech is ironic in the context of life in Arden. Firstly. Duke Senior has already uttered a eulogy based on Arden's superiority to the 'envious court'. He welcomes the absence of 'painted pomp', flattery and corruption.
Moreover, the forest can provide community, religion, philosophy and entertainment (2.1.1As if to prove this, the experiences Orlando takes to imply civility have all lately been found in Arden. Jaques has lately wiped a tear from his eye over the fate of the deer (65-6).
They are at this moment enjoying a good man's feast. The Duke has mentioned the possibility of sermons in stones and we will shortly be introduced to Sir Oliver Martext, the hedge-priest (3.3.58-98). Nevertheless, Duke Senior accepts Orlando's use of the past tense and repeats, 'True is it that we have seen better days...' (120). There is no hint as to his tone.
It could be melancholic or accompanied by a wry smile. For exile in this forest is as courtly and civilised as one makes it.
60 See Madeleine Doran's article, "Yet am I inland bred'" on the language of civility and baseness in Shakespeare, Sh. Q. 15 (1964), 99-114.
At the beginning of the play, Orlando complained that his elder brother barely recognised him as a De Boys and that he was denied the education this title merited. In the forest of Arden, these injustices are symbolically and then literally redressed. Whilst Rosalind challenges the very question of identity through the playing of multiple roles, Orlando needs to be recognised and defined by society. When Orlando relates his parentage, the Duke endorses his claim to be Sir Rowland's son by perceiving the knight's features 'Most truly limned and living in your face' (198). Orlando's value is seen to increase as a result of this name and he is given a position at the woodland court as one of the Duke's foresters. There is an obvious comparison to be made between this scene and Orlando's presentation to Duke Frederick after the wrestling. There his name inspired displeasure and denied him the reward for his victory (1.2.213-9). Moreover, Orlando's education in eloquence begins with the Duke's request that he speak. Duke Senior calls on him to relate 'all his fortunes' (2.7.203), something that Orlando has longed to do. In the first scene, he rehearsed the injustices he had suffered to Adam, a man who had heard the story many times. When Orlando finally expressed his frustration to Oliver the latter had to be violently constrained to listen. Violence is a form of self-expression for Orlando, one perhaps easier than language, and the threat to rip out his brother's tongue suggests his discomfort at Oliver's eloquence (1.1.55-8).
Similarly, the wrestling contest may be the only opportunity the younger brother has to make a place for himself in the world (1.2.175-81). 61 In the forest of Arden. Orlando quickly learns that civility, particularly the art of rhetoric, and not violence will get him what he wants.
In The Metamorphoses of Shakespearean Comedy, William C. Carroll describes how any 61 In Rosalynde, the wrestling is presented as degrading to one of Rosader's birth and an indication of his desperate circumstances. Lodge describes how the ladies grieved that so goodly a young man should venture in so base an action', Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 2, 171. Shakespeare suggests only that it is beneath the ladies of the court to watch it, 1.2.127-9.
kind of transformation will bring about a linguistic crisis.62 The loss of speech is central to the tragedy of banishment. In As You Like It, Touchstone finds his witticisms falling upon
deaf ears and laments this condition. As he explains to Audrey:
Touchstone's forebear, an exile whose wit was wasted upon savages, is Ovid. The Fool tells Audrey 'I am here with thee and thy goats as the most capricious poet honest Ovid was among the Goths' (3.3.5-6). But if Touchstone's wit lacks an audience then, again like Ovid, this in no way prevents his verbosity. Moreover, if he is misunderstood by the natives, there are plenty of courtiers around to appreciate him. This is also the precondition for Orlando's linguistic development. The language of Arden is profoundly familiar. It is still presumably French, the exiles' native tongue, and its mode is literary, specifically, the language of pastoral romance. The popularity of Rosalynde ensured that Shakespeare's play would be familiar to his audience. In fact, the hermeneutic confidence that the reader or audience might feel when confronted with such a world is expressed by Lodge's exiles. Ganimede spies familiar characters engraved in the trees which he takes to be the work of shepherds. Aliena
No doubt [...] this poesie is the passion of some perplexed shepheard, that being enamoured of some faire and beautifull Shepheardesse, suffered some sharpe repulse, and therefore complained of the crueltie of his Mistris. (181) Just as the trees' language can be understood, so the significance of any carving in trees is easily accessible. When Orlando comes to Arden, trees are already linguistic artefacts and 62 The Metamorphoses of Shakespearean Comedy (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1985), 33-4.
animals partly allegorical through the conventions of pastoral. Of course it depends upon the context in which one reads the forest. As a philosopher with marked Stoic tendencies, Duke Senior finds the forest expounding the meanings he desires to find there and which Stoicism helps him to write upon it. Nevertheless, he attests to the transparent meanings of the forest, the 'tongues in trees, books in the running brooks' and the 'sermons in stones' (2.1.16-7).
Alan Brissenden describes the forest as 'a schoolroom'. 63 Orlando responds to the wordiness of this forest and to its literary antecedents by following pastoral tradition and composing his own verses on the trees. This in itself is an expression of his transformation. In Rosalynde, Rosader is adept at poetry before he enters Arden. When Rosalynde rewards him for his victory at wrestling, he thanks her by immediately composing a 'sonnet' of two quatrains and a couplet (172). At the same point in Shakespeare's play, Orlando not only fails to write a poem but is struck dumb. He is reduced to 'a quintain, a mere lifeless block' (1.2.240). This may be a more realistic response to the sudden feelings of love Rosalind inspires in him. Yet Shakespeare's alteration of his source here also serves to contrast this Orlando with the courtier he will become, adorning the forest with his expressions of love.
The eloquence Orlando discovers through his encounter with Arden and with the linguistically dextrous Ganimede, is not merely important for his chances of wooing Rosalind. It is also essential to his renewed claim to civility, to nobility and power. The legend of Orpheus whose eloquence called cities into being is frequently cited in Renaissance 63 Alan Brissenden ed.. As You Like It (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 42.
pastoral. In Mucedorus, the protagonist delivers a lengthy encomium to his own education through a comparison of himself with Orpheus. Mucedorus has just encountered the wild man, Bremo, who now threatens to kill him. Rather than respond with violence. Mucedorus describes his power to civilise the wild man through oratory. He relates how in the beginning,
men lived in forests like beasts:
Unfortunately, Bremo's enchantment does not last long and he is dispatched by Mucedorus with a sword. Yet pastoral dramatises other examples of dangerous outlaws who have been apparently redeemed by the instruction of a courtier. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Valentine is chosen by the outlaws as their leader in part for his linguistic ability. Although there is no suggestion that they choose him with a view to being redeemed by his language, that is in effect what happens. At the end of the play, Valentine presents them to the Duke thus: "They are reformed, civil, full of good, / And fit for great employment, worthy lord' (5.4.154-5). These are men who only a short while before had expressed no repentance, one 64 See Tonkin on Spenser's association of poetry and social order in Spenser's Courteous Pastoral, 293-4.
65 Mucedorus in Dodsley's A Select Collection of Old English Plays, vol. 7, 243-4.
of whom had murdered because the mood took him. 66 Charles in Heywood's The Fours Prentices of London faces a similar challenge as leader of a group of Italian banditti. He attempts to impose certain laws upon them. The Clowne responds that if the banditti had wanted to keep laws they would not have been forced out into the country. 67 Charles' ambitions reflect the exile's need to prove his 'sociability' by
This pastoral convention also reflects the old Robin Hood tradition where the outlaw leader creates an alternative justice in his society, partly through the giving of laws,68 and finally leads his men back into the world. In The Tale ofGamelyn, Chaucer's retelling of the Robin Hood story that inspired Lodge's romance, the protagonist consistently acts as Justice.69 Forced to flee the town by his tyrannous older brother, Johan, who has stolen his inheritance.
Gamelyn joins a band of outlaws in the forest and finally becomes their leader. Elevated to the position of sheriff. Johan arranges Gamelyn's trial and when the latter does not appear he prepares to hang their other brother, Sir Ote, instead. But Gamelyn arrives in time and takes over the trial. He hangs the Justice, Johan and the twelve jurymen who found him guilty. The 66 The unconvincing nature of their reformation was absurdly heightened in Mark Rylance's production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 1996 at Shakespeare's Globe in London. Here the outlaws were presented as a gang of deformed and nightmarish creatures whose appearance did not alter in the course of this 'reformation'.
Whilst this is an interesting comment on perceptions of the outlaw, it made Valentine's sincere recommendation impossible to accept.
67 The Foure Premises of London in Heywood's Dramatic Works (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), 6 vols., vol. 2, p!83.
68 See also the laws dictated by Robin in The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Himtington, pp 153-4.
69 On the relationship between The Tale ofGamelyn, Rosalynde and As You Like It see As You Like It: A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare ed. by Richard Knowles (New York: MLAA, 1977), 483-7.
King endorses Gamelyn's dispensation of justice:
Orlando does not have an opportunity to reform anyone but he describes his love poems as
engendering a civilisation in the tradition of Orpheus: