Kayleigh Finglas 14555943
The Shakespeare Problem
'As You Like It' was written by William Shakespeare between 1598 and 1600, during the last years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. This play belongs to the literary tradition known as a 'pastoral'. It deals with shepherds or rural life in a usually artificial manner and typically draws contrast between the innocence and tranquility of the simple life and the misery and corruption of city and, principally, court life (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).
The play itself takes place in a forest, comprising parts of France, Belgium and Luxembourg, where the characters are hiding from deceit at court or some injustice in the family. The pastoral tradition began with Theocritus in ancient Greece, whose writings explored the regrets of love and daily injustices in rural life. Virgil extended the tradition, highlighting the dissimilarity between urban and rural lifestyles even more. Renaissance literature focused more on the distinction between court and country life, and Shakespeare had many contemporaries who worked in this literary niche, including Edmund Spenser who based his Shepherdess Calendar in 1579 on Virgil's 'Eclogues', and Sir Philip Sidney who wrote a romance in 1590 called 'The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia'.
Shakespeare used this French setting through his choice of the French spelling, 'Ardenne'.
However, the First Folio indicates another spelling, the Forest of Arden specifically; an Anglicized spelling that is also similar to a forest near Shakespeare's birthplace in Warwickshire. This happy coincidence is analytical of the doublings in the play; although set in a foreign land the play refers to English society such as Robin Hood and 'primogeniture', the state of being the firstborn child and the right of succession belonging to the firstborn. As a result, the play can deal with problems at home in...