Here is a more detailed look at what happens in each scene of As You Like It, to help you look at the structure of the play and interrogate it.

As you look at each act we’ve included some things to notice. These are important character developments, or key questions that an acting company might ask when they first go through the play together at the start of rehearsal. If you work through these as you go, they will help you to make sense of the play. It’s a good idea to have a copy of the text nearby!

  • Act 1

    Act 1 Scene 1

    At Oliver's house, Orlando, Oliver's brother, confides in his servant Adam about how Oliver mistreats him, saying he ‘stays me at home unkept’ and ‘bars me the place of a brother’. Orlando will ‘no longer endure it’ and attacks Oliver. To stop Orlando attacking him, Oliver says he ‘shall have some part’ of what he wants.

    When Orlando and Adam have gone, Charles the Wrestler arrives with the latest news from court. He tells Oliver about Duke Senior's life in exile and also that Orlando plans to wrestle him at court the next day. Charles usually wins his wrestling matches so encourages Oliver to stop Orlando from fighting him. Instead, Oliver tells Charles that Orlando is ‘a secret and villainous contriver’ and that he would rather Charles ‘break his neck as his finger’ and kill him in the match. Charles agrees and leaves, saying that if Orlando turns up he’ll ‘give him his payment’.


    • Orlando is upset and very frustrated by his brother’s poor treatment of him, especially as he has been ignoring their dead father’s wishes to give Orlando what he needs.
    • Adam is a confidant and friend to Orlando and there is trust between the two men.
    • Oliver agrees to do as Orlando asks to stop him from choking him, but then arranges for Charles the Wrestler to kill Orlando in the upcoming wrestling match.

    Act 1 Scene 2

    Celia and Rosalind meet outside Duke Frederick's house. Rosalind is thinking of her 'banish'd father' that Frederick has usurped. To cheer her up, Celia says that when her father dies, she'll make Rosalind ‘his heir’. Rosalind agrees to be merry and to ‘devise sports’ and they are joined by Touchstone the jester. Duke Frederick enters with Orlando and the wrestling party. Impressed by Orlando, Rosalind and Celia try to convince him not to fight. He fights anyway and wins, revealing he is ‘the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois’. Duke Frederick leaves in a rage and Celia apologises for him. Rosalind gives Orlando a necklace and Orlando falls for her immediately, calling himself ‘overthrown’. He doesn't want her to leave and asks Le Beau about the two ladies. Orlando is told that Rosalind’s father is the banished Duke Senior.


    • Rosalind misses her father and is struggling at court now her uncle is in control.
    • Celia and Rosalind are witty and intelligent young women, and Celia knows how to cheer Rosalind up and take her mind off her father.
    • Orlando goes ahead with the wrestling match, even though he is unlikely to win.
    • Both Rosalind and Orlando fall in love with each other the first time they meet.

    Act 1 Scene 3

    Celia asks a love-struck Rosalind if it’s ‘possible, on such a sudden, you should fall into so strong a liking with’ Orlando. Duke Frederick re-enters, ‘his eyes full of anger’. He banishes Rosalind from the court as a traitor. When she demands why, he says ‘thou art thy father’s daughter, there’s enough’. Celia protests, saying that if Rosalind is a traitor, so is she and that she ‘cannot live out of her company’. The duke calls his daughter a ‘fool’ and threatens Rosalind with death if she doesn’t leave court. Rosalind is devastated but Celia suggests they both run away and ‘seek your father in the forest of Arden’, bringing Touchstone with them to lift their spirits. Rosalind fears for their safety so Celia says she will disguise herself in ‘poor and mean attire’. Rosalind decides to disguise herself as a young man called ‘Ganymede'.


    • Celia is fiercely loyal to Rosalind and is prepared to sacrifice her own inheritance and safety to go into banishment with her.
    • Duke Frederick is frightened of the threat his brother poses, and Rosalind’s connection to him.
    • Rosalind and Celia are both quick-thinking and practical. They are able to immediately come up with a plan to turn their ‘banishment’ into ‘liberty’.

    Things to notice in Act 1

    • Notice the similarities in plot between different character groups, particularly the two sets of brothers. Duke Frederick has deceitfully robbed his brother of what is rightfully his and exiled him to a life outside of the court, just as Oliver has disobeyed his father’s will and kept Orlando in poverty.

    • Notice Oliver’s aside during Act 1 Scene 1 before Charles the Wrestler enters. What is the effect when the audience discover that a character’s words during a scene were untrue? How do we feel towards Oliver and Orlando following these introductions?

    • Take note of the relationship Celia and Rosalind have. How do they talk to each other in Scene 2, before Orlando is introduced? Does this change when Rosalind wants to talk about Orlando? Who drives the action when they decide to run away and disguise themselves? How does Rosalind react to news that she is banished and what does Celia’s behaviour reveal?

    • Act 1 is important because it sets up the characters and their motivations and reveals the world of the court. We find out that both Rosalind and Orlando are well-liked and that both Duke Frederick and Oliver have conspired against their family members. We also see how the court works under Duke Frederick’s leadership, with the sport of wrestling being used as entertainment. How do you view the court as it is set up in Act 1? Several of the characters go on journeys of discovery over the next four acts, and these scenes help us to understand what drives them through those journeys.

  • Act 2

    Act 2 Scene 1

    Duke Senior is in the Forest of Arden with some of his followers, banished lords who also used to live at court. He talks about how 'sweet' life is in the forest in comparison to how things are in the 'envious court', before suggesting that they go to hunt venison. After making the suggestion, the duke expresses how unfair it seems that they are killing animals who have more right to be in the forest than they do. One of the lords agrees and tells him that Jaques is also upset by this, and wept while he watched a deer die. The duke suggests they go and find Jaques because he likes to talk to him when he is 'in these sullen fits' because he is interesting to listen to and 'full of matter'.


    • Duke Senior has adapted to life in exile but regrets how they are having to hunt for food and disturb the forest.
    • There are a loyal group of lords and followers who have left court with Duke Senior, including a lord called Jaques.
    • Jaques is deeply upset by the killing of animals in the forest and the duke wants to speak to him about it.

    Act 2 Scene 2

    Duke Frederick is furious that Celia and Rosalind have managed to disappear without anyone seeing them. Two lords report that Touchstone the clown is also missing, and that ‘Hisperia, the princess’ gentlewoman, / confesses that she secretly o’erheard’ Rosalind and Celia talking about Orlando. Duke Frederick orders the lords to bring Orlando’s brother Oliver to him, so that he can ‘make him find [Orlando]’ and find ‘these foolish runaways’.


    • Duke Frederick is quick tempered and also demanding, expecting Oliver to answer his summons.
    • Rosalind and Celia ran away by night (they were ‘abed’ the night before but not in their beds ‘in the morning early’).
    • Rosalind and Celia’s attendants, or gentlewomen, have been interrogated about the disappearance of the two cousins.

    Act 2 Scene 3

    Adam hears Orlando coming home from the wrestling match and asks him why he has so many good traits and is so well loved by people, explaining that these ‘graces’ make his brother bitter and envious. He warns Orlando that he has ‘overheard’ Oliver, and that Oliver ‘means / to burn the lodging’ where Orlando sleeps and urges him to run away.

    Orlando asks where he could go, as he has no money, and Adam gives him all his savings to help him escape into the forest. He then pledges to ‘follow’ Orlando as his servant ‘to my last gasp with truth and loyalty’.


    • Adam is fiercely loyal to Orlando and is prepared to sacrifice his own savings and safety to support him, until his death.
    • Orlando seems to be well loved by everyone he meets but this has made Oliver envious.
    • Oliver is prepared to kill Orlando, and planned to burn down the lodging where he sleeps.

    Act 2 Scene 4

    Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone arrive in the forest, in their different disguises and 'weary' from their journey through the night. They listen as the elderly Corin advises a lovesick young shepherd, Silvius. Corin claims to be experienced, having 'loved ere now' but Silvius tells him that he ‘didst then never love so heartily’ as he himself loves Phoebe.

    Silvius leaves and Rosalind, in disguise as Ganymede, asks where they can ‘rest and feed’. Corin says his master ‘is of a churlish disposition’ and won’t offer any hospitality but the cottage, flock and pastures are for sale. Rosalind says they’ll buy the land, and Celia agrees. Corin leads them off to complete the sale and eat.


    • The old shepherd Corin is a wordly-wise character, with plenty of life experience.
    • Rather than continuing to 'seek' Duke Senior, Rosalind and Celia agree to buy their own property and seem to be taking control of their own life in the forest.
    • The forest is presented as a place of love: Corin reveals the many times he has fallen in love, and Silvius is passionately in love with Phoebe.

    Act 2 Scene 5

    Jaques comes across Amiens singing 'under the greenwood tree' in the forest. When Amiens stops, he tells him to carry on, even though Amiens replies that it will ‘make [him] melancholy’ and that he knows he cannot ‘please’ Jaques with his ‘ragged’ voice. Jaques persuades him to finish the song.

    Amiens says that the duke has been ‘all this day to look’ for Jaques and Jaques admits that he ‘has been all day to avoid him’, saying he 'is too disputable for my company'. They finish singing the song together and Jaques reads a poem he has written. Jaques then leaves to be by himself, whilst Amiens goes to find the duke.


    • Jaques’ critical and melancholy attitude is well-known to Amiens, who assumes that he will not be able to please Jaques with his song.
    • Music is an important part of life for Duke Senior’s supporters in the forest.
    • Jaques has been avoiding the duke and thinks he is 'disputable' or argumentative.

    Act 2 Scene 6

    While travelling with Orlando in the forest, Adam tells his 'master' he ‘can go no further’ and faints because he is so hungry. Orlando promises to ‘bear [him] to some shelter’, asking him to 'hold death awhile at the arm's end' while he waits for him to come back.


    • Adam is struggling physically with the journey through the forest.
    • Orlando is willing to make personal sacrifices for Adam, going off in search of food and making sure his servant is safe and sheltered first.

    Act 2 Scene 7

    Duke Senior eats a meal with his men in the forest. Jaques enters with news of a fool he met ‘i’ th’ forest’ (Touchstone), ‘one that hath been a courtier’. Jaques longs to be a fool, saying he is ‘ambitious for a motley coat’.

    Orlando enters, sword drawn and orders them to ‘Forbear, and eat no more’. Duke Senior asks if he’s distressed or just a ‘rude despiser of good manners’. When Orlando says he’s starving, the duke welcomes him to the table. Overwhelmed, Orlando goes to fetch Adam.

    Jaques gives a speech describing how ‘All the world’s a stage’, on which people play ‘many parts’. He describes the seven ages through which a man passes in his lifetime. As he finishes, Orlando re-enters with Adam. They eat and sing together and Orlando confides in the duke that he is ‘the good Sir Rowland’s son’. The duke welcomes him again warmly.


    • Jaques wants the life of a fool, but without losing any of the privileges he currently enjoys as a lord.
    • Duke Senior and his band of followers lead a merry and bountiful existence in the forest and the duke seems generous in his attitude to strangers.
    • Orlando and Adam have finally found Duke Senior's camp, and Orlando is accepted as the son of Sir Rowland De Bois.

    Things to notice in Act 2

    • This is the first time we gain an insight into the way Duke Senior leads his followers, in contrast to the way his brother leads the court. Take note of how his style is different, looking for concrete examples of how they each treat strangers, how they communicate and issue orders and how others react to them.

    • Notice that the forest is a place of escape for many of the characters. Duke Senior’s banishment has actually freed him from 'pomp' and 'ceremony', Orlando is escaping plots of death against him and the banished Rosalind and her cousin Celia are able to escape Duke Frederick’s paranoia and pursue new lives as Ganymede and Aliena.

    • Note how people start to change in the forest, even within scenes. For example, Jaques' whole mood changes as he hears the song in Scene 5 and Orlando's entrance at the duke's camp quickly moves from violent to friendly.

    • Act 2 is important because we see the marked change between the world of the court and the world of the forest. How does the language of different characters change as a result of this?

  • Act 3

    Act 3 Scene 1

    Oliver reports to Duke Frederick that he hasn’t seen Orlando since their recent argument. Duke Frederick doesn't believe him but tells him to ‘find out [his] brother, wheresoe’er he is’ and gives him one year to ‘bring him dead or living’ back to court or he will be banished as well. Oliver says that he wishes the duke knew his 'heart in this' and claims 'I never loved my brother in my life'.


    • The duke has seized all of Oliver's lands and goods until he can produce his brother.
    • Duke Frederick will not believe in Oliver's innocence until he can hear it straight from Orlando's mouth.
    • Oliver does not have the chance to speak much in this scene, but claims to have no love for his brother and seems to agree to what the duke is asking.

    Act 3 Scene 2

    Orlando is hanging love poems on trees: ‘O Rosalind, these trees shall be my books’. He runs off to ‘carve on every tree / the fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she’. Corin and Touchstone enter, discussing the differences between court and country life. They hear Rosalind, as Ganymede, reading the dreadful poem aloud. Touchstone calls it ‘bad fruit’ from the tree.

    When Touchstone and Corin leave, Celia tells Rosalind that Orlando wrote the poems. When Orlando enters, bantering with Jaques, Rosalind and Celia hide to listen. Orlando tells Jaques the woman he loves is called Rosalind. Jaques insults the name and leaves, saying that he was ‘seeking for a fool’ when he found Orlando in the woods.

    Rosalind introduces herself to Orlando as Ganymede, a ‘native’ of the forest. He claims to know about the ‘giddy offences’ of women and that there’s a man who ‘haunts’ the forest carving poems on trees, who needs curing. Orlando says he's the man who is so ‘love-shaked’ and begs for ‘remedy’. Ganymede agrees to cure him, on the condition that Orlando calls him Rosalind and comes every day to practise wooing him. Orlando enthusiastically agrees.


    • Corin is able to hold his own with Touchstone when it comes to witty conversation about the innate differences between the shepherd’s life and the courtier’s.
    • Celia enjoys playing games with Rosalind in their conversations.
    • Orlando is ‘full of pretty answers’ in his conversation with Jaques, showing that he has wit and intelligence.
    • Rosalind is now meeting with Orlando, while still in disguise as Ganymede. At these meetings she has vowed to 'cure' Orlando of his love for Rosalind.

    Act 3 Scene 3

    Touchstone and Audrey walk through the forest, eavesdropped on by Jaques. When Audrey doesn’t understand what Touchstone is saying, Touchstone laments that she is not more ‘poetical’. He explains to Audrey that she doesn't need to be honest because she is already beautiful, and it would be excessive to be both honest and beautiful. When the vicar Sir Oliver Martext happens to enter, Touchstone asks him to marry him and Audrey. Martext asks who will give Audrey away. Jaques volunteers to do this, before then persuading Touchstone that they should marry in a church. Touchstone, Audrey and Jaques depart, leaving Martext behind.

    What do we learn?

    • Audrey does not seem to be fully aware of what Touchstone is doing or saying, which he encourages.
    • Touchstone has already met with Sir Oliver Martext and plans to marry Audrey in the forest, but Jaques manages to stop them and convince them they should marry in a church.

    Act 3 Scene 4

    Rosalind is upset because Orlando has not turned up for their first meeting. She asks Celia ‘have I not cause to weep?’ Celia tries to cheer Rosalind up through conversation.

    Corin arrives and invites them both to watch the ‘pageant’ of Silvius the shepherd wooing Phoebe as she is refusing to return the young shepherd's love. Rosalind enthusiastically agrees, saying she will ‘prove a busy actor’ in this play.


    • Rosalind thrives on the role playing she has access to in ‘this wide and universal theatre’ (Duke Senior, 2:7) of the forest.
    • Corin finds the plight of Silvius comical.
    • Both Corin and Rosalind characterise the ‘pageant truly play’d’ between Silvius and Phoebe in theatrical terms.

    Act 3 Scene 5

    Silvius is desperately begging Phoebe not to ‘scorn’ him and turn away his love, but she refuses and tells him to ‘come not […] near’ her. She speaks in harsh terms to him, telling him that ‘Now [she does] frown on [him] with all [her] heart’.

    Rosalind appears as Ganymede and supports Silvius, confronting Phoebe for her harsh behaviour, asking her ‘who might be your mother, / That you insult, exult and all at once / Over the wretched?'

    Rosalind quickly realises that Phoebe has fallen for Ganymede, because of the way 'he' is talking to her. As a result, she tells Phoebe directly: ‘Do not fall in love with me, / for I am falser than vows made in wine.’ When Rosalind then leaves, Phoebe resolves to write a letter to the ‘pretty youth’, for Silvius to deliver.

    What do we learn?

    • Phoebe is not interested in Silvius but has quickly developed feelings for Ganymede.
    • Rosalind tries to warn Phoebe that she shouldn't fall for Ganymede, even telling her that he is 'false', but does not reveal her disguise.
    • Silvius is so in love with Phoebe that he even agrees to carry her letters of love to another man.

    Things to notice in Act 3

    • Notice how Orlando reacts to his interactions with Ganymede and how Rosalind tries to test him and find out how serious he is about his love for her. How does her view of love and what she thinks it should do to a person differ from the way Orlando sees love and courtship? What do you think Rosalind is afraid of and why do you think she chooses to test Orlando’s love in this way? What is she hoping to discover?

    • Think about Celia’s role in this act. How is her relationship with Rosalind developing and changing now that Orlando is around? She seemed very content to be in the forest in Act 2 but are there any signs of her dialogue and attitude changing?

    • Consider how the different characters meet and woo each other in this act. What reasons does Phoebe give for loving Ganymede more than Silvius? Why do you think the shepherdess is more interested in the stranger Ganymede than the devoted Silvius? How might the staging of Act 3 Scene 5 contribute to the humour in the play?

    • Act 3 is significant because we see the relationships between characters develop. We see Rosalind and Orlando reunite, and several characters’ love being tested. What do you think the central messages about love and relationships are in Act 3?

  • Act 4

    Act 4 Scene 1

    In the forest, Rosalind is mocking Jaques’ melancholy nature when Orlando enters, late for his love lesson. Rosalind scolds him, saying she’d rather have a 'snail' for a lover but tells Orlando to woo ‘him’ (Ganymede) as if he was his ‘very very Rosalind’.

    They have a flirty, witty exchange with Rosalind using her disguise to test his feelings. She enlists Celia to play priest and stage a wedding before suggesting the 'real' Rosalind will be jealous as soon as they marry. Orlando isn’t sure, asking 'but will my Rosalind do so?’ Orlando leaves to have dinner with Duke Senior. Rosalind asks him not to leave but he promises to return.

    Celia scolds Rosalind for misrepresenting women in her play-acting: 'you have simply misused our sex in your love-prate'. Rosalind just tells Celia how 'many fathom deep' she is in love with Orlando.


    • Jaques is desperate to be a unique, ‘misunderstood’, melancholy man of wisdom and experience, but is continually outwitted by Rosalind.
    • Orlando seems to be a good match for Rosalind, playing along with her wittiness and participating in her role plays, revealing his total love for Rosalind as he does so.
    • Celia is annoyed at Rosalind and possibly feels she is taking her game with Orlando too far. She doesn't like the things Rosalind says about women and their behaviour and she is also put in a difficult position when she is asked to 'marry' them.

    Act 4 Scene 2

    Jaques is in the forest with some of Duke Senior's lords. One of them has managed to hunt and kill a deer. He suggests they present the deer ‘to the duke like a Roman conqueror’, and asks whether they have a song for the occasion. The lords then sing their hunting song, which plays on the word 'horn' and the fact that both deers and cuckolds have 'horns'. This comparison also suggests that being a cuckold is a natural thing. As they sing, they walk through the forest to meet the duke.

    What do we learn?

    • The lords are still hunting in the forest, and have been successful in making a kill.
    • Jaques encourages the others to sing and carry the dead animal to the duke. Often, on productions, they will wear the horns on their head to create a visual joke.

    Act 4 Scene 3

    Rosalind is upset that Orlando is late again. Silvius enters with a letter from Phoebe. It’s full of praise for Ganymede and Rosalind criticises Silvius for loving ‘such a woman’ who plays ‘false strains’ upon him. She sends him off with a message for Phoebe: Ganymede wants her to love Silvius and if she loves Ganymede, she’ll obey.

    Oliver enters with a ‘bloody napkin’ from Orlando. Oliver is a changed man. He tells them that Orlando was on his way to the duke, when he spotted ‘a wretched ragged man’ (Oliver asleep), in danger of a lioness. Oliver says Orlando tried to leave his brother but ‘kindness […] made him give battle to the lioness’ which has left him seriously injured. Still in disguise, Rosalind faints and Oliver says 'he' lacks a ‘manly heart’. Rosalind claims she was ‘counterfeiting’ for Orlando’s benefit, and Oliver should tell his brother this.


    • Rosalind faints when she learns how badly wounded Orlando is and is extremely upset that he might be late again for their meeting. She seems to have extreme emotions and strong reactions to Orlando.
    • As Ganymede, Rosalind still seems to be presenting women in a very negative and stereotypical way but this may be part of her strategy for hiding her true identity/gender.
    • Oliver has been profoundly affected by Orlando’s selfless saving of his life, undergoing a positive transformation or ‘conversion’ as a result.

    Things to notice in Act 4

    • Notice that this is the first time Celia and Oliver meet, in Scene 3. What signs are there that they might form a stronger relationship and how do you think Rosalind reacts to this?

    • Take note of Jaques and Duke Senior and their relationship with the natural world around them. Why do you think Shakespeare includes these references to hunting and nature, and includes comments from both characters on how they don’t like upsetting the natural order of things?

    • Notice the way in which Rosalind and Orlando interact during their love lesson in Scene 1. Why do you think Rosalind pushes Orlando so far, saying such extreme things? How does Celia respond to hearing the way Rosalind talks about women and how she deals with Orlando, as the only other person who knows the truth of her real identity?

    • Act 4 is important in showing the development of Orlando and Rosalind’s relationship. Through their meetings and love lessons, Rosalind is able to test Orlando’s feelings and how genuine they are. What do his reactions and behaviour reveal about his feelings and why do you think Rosalind pushes him this far? What answers does she find about Orlando's nature and faithfulness?

  • Act 5

    Act 5 Scene 1

    Touchstone is reassuring Audrey that they will be married, and tells her to have 'patience'. Touchstone reminds her that there is a young man in the forest who ‘lays claim’ to her, but she reassures him that William 'hath no interest' in her.

    At that moment, William enters and is questioned by Touchstone. When William, who is twenty five and was born in the forest, says that he is wise and has a 'pretty wit', Touchstone retorts that ‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool’. He then mocks and threatens the youth until he leaves, telling him to 'tremble and depart'. Corin comes in and asks them to go with him because their 'master and mistress seeks you'.


    • Touchstone is very witty, but treats William really cruelly.
    • Audrey wanted to get married and is impatient to be with Touchstone.

    Act 5 Scene 2

    Oliver tells Orlando he’s in love with Aliena. Orlando asks how it happened so fast and Oliver says he plans to marry her tomorrow. He gives Orlando all his inheritance, saying he will 'here live and die a shepherd’. Oliver leaves Orlando as Rosalind enters as Ganymede. Orlando talks about his brother's love and 'how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes’. Ganymede tells Orlando he is ‘a magician’ who 'can do strange things' and that Orlando will marry Rosalind when Oliver marries Aliena. Silvius and Phoebe enter and Rosalind, as Ganymede, urges Phoebe to love Silvius, saying 'I would love you, if I could'. Ganymede then invites Phoebe and Silvius to the double wedding, saying Phoebe will also 'be married tomorrow’ too.

    What do we Learn?

    • Orlando is really upset, seeing his brother happy when he can't be.
    • Rosalind decides that she is going to reveal her true identity and resolve all the confusion.

    Act 5 Scene 3

    Touchstone and Audrey are excited about their wedding and the 'joyful day' it will be. Two Pages of the ‘banished duke’ pass by and sing them a song. Touchstone declares that the ‘ditty’ contained ‘no great matter’ and was ‘very untuneable’, saying that it was not worth his time to ‘hear such a foolish song’. 

    What do we Learn?

    • The banished Duke Senior has Pages, or servants, who are also in the forest and this is the first time they interact with other characters.
    • Touchstone likes to speak his mind and doesn't really care who he offends.

    Act 5 Scene 4

    Duke Senior asks Orlando whether this Ganymede can ‘do all this that he hath promised’. Orlando is not sure. Rosalind, as Ganymede, enters with Silvius and Phoebe, admitting that ‘he’ has ‘promised to make all this matter even’. Rosalind checks that Duke Senior will allow his daughter to marry Orlando and, that if Ganymede turned out to be unavailable, Phoebe will marry Silvius. ‘Ganymede’ then leaves with Celia and the duke muses that he sees ‘some lively touches’ in him that remind him of Rosalind.

    Touchstone and Audrey enter and Jaques introduces Touchstone as the clown he met in the forest. Hymen, the god of marriage, enters with Celia and Rosalind, who is no longer dressed as Ganymede. Upon seeing Rosalind, Phoebe says ‘If sight and shape be true, / Why then, my love adieu’ and agrees to marry Silvius. Hymen then marries all four couples, including Touchstone and Audrey, before leading a wedding hymn.

    Jaques de Bois, ‘the second son of old Sir Rowland’ arrives, saying Duke Frederick had entered the forest to ‘put [his brother] to the sword’ but was ‘converted’ by an ’old religious man’ and decided to bequeath his crown 'to his banished brother’. After a celebration dance, Rosalind speaks alone to the audience, despite it not being ‘the fashion to see the lady the epilogue’ and asks for their applause in appreciation.

    What do we learn?

    • Rosalind meets with her father while still in disguise and some of the characters recognise her traits in Ganymede, even before she reveals herself as Rosalind.
    • Celia doesn't speak in this scene, and is only referred to by Duke Senior, who welcomes her.
    • Jaques de Bois, Oliver and Orlando's brother, is the one to bring news of changes at court and to let everyone know they can return home.

    Things to notice in Act 5

    • Notice the transformations undergone by Oliver and Duke Frederick, and by Phoebe.

    • Take note of how Act 5 resolves the displacements and wrongs that have been experienced by key characters in the play. Can you identify the similarities – and differences – between the main plots and the subplots? How do you think Shakespeare is using these different plots together to show his audiences different ideas about family, loyalty, duty and love?

    • Act 5 is important because it resolves the confusion and displacement of family and lovers set up in Act 1: Duke Frederick returns the crown to his brother Duke Senior; Oliver repents and gives Orlando his inheritance, whilst finding love with Celia; Rosalind finally gives up her disguise, resulting in marriages between herself and Orlando and between Silvius and Phoebe.