chapter  8
27 Pages

As You Like It

A Midsummer Night's Dream is dominated by the imagery of dreams and the stage. As You Like It, with its central disguise-plot, is also concerned with ideas of theatricality, role-playing and perform­ ance; but it is concerned, too, with an exploration of ideas which derive primarily from contemporary literary rather than theatrical forms. A key image of the play is the one in Act III Scene ii, a scene which in modern productions usually begins the second half of the play. Orlando, exiled in the forest and in love with Rosalind, has written love sonnets to her, which he hangs upon the trees, saying:

Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love; And thou, thrice-crowned queen of night, survey With thy chaste eye, from thy pale sphere above, Thy huntress’ name that my full life doth sway. O Rosalind, these trees shall be my books, And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character, That every eye which in this forest looks Shall see thy virtue witnessed everywhere. Run, run, Orlando, carve on every tree The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she.