A quick overview of what happens in the plot of As You Like It. 
  • Duke Senior has been exiled by his brother Duke Frederick and is living in the forest of Arden. His daughter Rosalind has been allowed to stay at court with her cousin and best friend Celia.

    Did you know? 'This uncouth forest'

    Forests are traditionally seen to be places of magic and mischief, of outlaws and intrigue, of love and madness. Shakespeare often starts his plays in the ordered world of the court before then moving to the more chaotic natural world of the forest. This move, from the world of man to the world of nature, is called a ‘pastoral shift’.

  • Orlando takes part in a wrestling match at court to escape from the cruel treatment of his brother Oliver. He meets Rosalind and falls in love with her, but he is not welcome once Duke Frederick finds out who his father was.

  • Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind, who decides to run away into the forest. Celia goes with her. Rosalind disguises herself as a boy, Ganymede, and Celia pretends to be Aliena, a peasant woman. They take Touchstone with them and soon meet the shepherd Corin, who finds them a place to shelter.

    Did you know? The Forest of Arden

    In Shakespeare’s source for the play, the action was set in the French forest of Ardennes. The English Forest of Arden, however, was also a real forest - in Shakespeare’s native Warwickshire.

  • Orlando also leaves home and runs away into the forest, where he is taken in by Duke Senior. He writes lots of poems about his feelings for Rosalind and leaves them around the forest.

  • After a while, Orlando meets Rosalind in the forest. She is still in disguise as a boy but she tells Orlando that he can woo 'him' instead of Rosalind and it will cure him of his love-sickness.

  • Phoebe also meets and falls in love with Rosalind. This frustrates Silvius, who is madly in love with Phoebe. Meanwhile, a goatherd called Audrey falls for Touchstone and they talk about marriage.

  • When Duke Frederick hears that Orlando disappeared, as well as his daughter Celia and others, he orders Oliver into the forest to find Orlando.

  • Orlando saves Oliver's life by fighting off a lioness. Oliver seems sorry for the way he treated his brother, and carries Orlando's messages to Rosalind for him. While doing this he meets and falls in love with Celia.

  • Rosalind is frustrated that she can't tell Orlando how she feels because of her disguise, so she promises that: Phoebe and Ganymede will marry (unless this is impossible, in which case Phoebe will marry Silvius), Celia will marry Oliver, Touchstone will marry Audrey, and Orlando will marry Rosalind.

  • On the day of the joint weddings, Rosalind appears in female clothes and is reunited with her father. Learning Ganymede is not real, Phoebe marries Silvius and the other couples all happily marry. News arrives that Duke Senior is welcome back at court.

Teacher Notes

To help students think about the plot, you can use the ‘Story in 10 Scenes’ resource from our

2019 As You Like It Teacher Pack

Alternatively, there is a 'test yourself' button on this page that will challenge them to re-order the events of the play.