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they pleased. But this, in fact, as already pointed out, is not and cannot be the case. On the other hand, it is perhaps possible (as Tieck thinks) that the title alludes to a passage in Ben Jonson’s Cinthia's Revels, and to the interspersed sallies it contains against the easy and apparently irregular and arbitrary compositions of Shakspeare and the earlier School. But the allusion does not exactly hold good, for the only words in B. Jonson's comedy that can be meant are • If
you like it,' whereas the heading to Shakspeare's play is . As you like it,' and thus even Tieck's interpretation : 'If you like it, then it is a comedy, that is, a comedy par excellence,' is rendered meaningless. The same applies to the equally far-fetched reference to the words : If you like it, so, and yet I will be yours in dutie, if you be mine in favours,' in the Preface to Lodge's pastoral and chivalrous romance,* from which Shakspeare drew the subject of this play? Shakspeare perhaps intended by means of the title to smile at the vain endeavours of his opponents to bring his fanciful comedies (which certainly differed very widely from Ben Jonson's) into discredit; but even the circumstance of his changing the If into As proves that he would not have chosen the title, had it not borne within itself some independent significance, sowe reference to the meaning and spirit of the play itself. Such a reference, I think, it is not difficult to find upon a more careful examination. In the first place it is evident that “ As You Like It,' both in style and character, stands in close affinity to · What You Will.' The difference in reality is only that in the latter case the element of intrigue plays a prominent part while it is wholly wanting in the first case.
The motives which in the present case set ihe whole in motion are merely chance, the unintentional encounter of persons and incidents, and the freaks, caprices and humours, the sentiments, feelings and emotions to which the various personages recklessly give way in what they do and leave undone. Nowhere does the representation treat of conscious plans, definite resolves, decided aims and objects; nowhere do we find preconsidered,
* Rosalynde: Euphues' Golden Legacy, etc., 1590, re-issued in 1592 and 1598, and again recently reprinted in Collier's Shakespeare's Library, vol. i.
or, in fact, deeper motives proceeding from the inmost nature of the characters. The characters themselves — even though clearly and correctly delineated-are generally drawn in light, hurried outlines—but are full of life, gay and bold in action, and quick in decision; they appear, as already said, either inconstant, variable, going from one extreme to the other, or possess such a vast amount of imagination, sensitiveness and love for what is romantic and adventurous, that their conduct to a prosaic mind can only appear thoughtless, capricious and arbitrary, and such a mind would be inclined to delare them all fools, oddities and fantastic creatures in the same way as Sir Oliver Martext in the play itself, iii. 3, calls the whole company in the forest fantastical knaves'). And, in fact, all do exactly what and as they please; each gives him or herself up, in unbridled wilfulness, to good or evil, according to his or her own whims, roods or impulses whatever the consequences may prove to be. Each looks upon, and turns and shapes life as it pleases him or herself. The Forest of Arden is their stage, and with its fresh and free atmosphere, its mysterious chiaro-scuro, its idyllic scenery for huntsmen and shepherds, is, at the same time, the fitting scene for the realisation of a mode and conception of life such as is here described. It is a life such as not only must please the dramatic personages themselves, but would please every one, were such a life only possible; it is the poetical reflex of a life as you like it, light and smooth in its How, unencumbered by serious tasks, free from the fetters of definite objects, and from intentions difficult to realise; an amusing play of caprice, of imagination, and of wavering sensations and feelings. A life like this, however, is possible only in the Forest of Arden, in the midst of similar scenery, under similar circumstances and conditions, and with similar companions and surroundings. At court, in more complicated relations, in a state of impure feelings and selfish endeavours, it would lose its poetical halo, its innocence and gaiety, and become untruth, hypocrisy, injustice and violence, as is proved by the reigning Duko, his courtiers and Oliver de Bois. The point of the piece seems to me to lie in this contrast; but care had to be taken not to make the point too pointed, not to make
it a serious moral conflict. If Shakspeare wished to give the play a humorous character, the gay appearance of as you like it,' he could not solve the contrast except by allowing selfish injustice and violent arbitrariness to become untrue to themselves, and to turn into their opposites of course, in perfect accordance with the plan, the meaning and spirit of the whole, but nevertheless entirely without motives. This, at the same time, unravels the other complications into which the play of accident and caprice and their own as we like it,' have involved the dramatic personages, and the piece closes in perfect harmony inasmuch as what is right and rational is everywhere happily brought about. Thus the dominion, and the very ground hitherto held by accident and caprice, excessive imagination and adventurous romance, is entirely withdrawn from them. *
Shakspeare's intention—that is, the sense in which he conceived Lodge's narrative and transformed it into a drama—which, as I think, is clearly enough manifested in the spirit and character of the whole, as well as reflected in the several parts, is concentrated, and, so to say, condensed in the second and more personal contrast in which the two fools of the piece stand to one another. They and the unimportant figure of the shepherdess whom Touchstone chooses as his sweetheart, are the only persons whom Shakspeare did not find in Lodge's narrative, but freely invented. This addition, however, is in so far of great importance as it alone gives the original subject-matter a different character and colouring, and, say, forms the ideal norm, which determines the other alterations introduced by Shakspeare. The two fools, by virtue of the contrast in which they stand to each other, mutually complete each other. The melancholy Jacques is not the fool by profession, he appears rather to be simply a comic character par excellence; but his meditative superficiality, his witty sentimentality, his merry sadness have taken so complete a hold of his nature, that it seems to contradict itself, and therefore upon a closer examination distinctly bears the impress of folly, although it certainly is an original kind of folly. The contradiction into which he has fallen, he involuntarily and unconsciously carries about with him, for it is rooted in his very life and character. Of good birth and education, and not without the taste for what is good and noble, but easily led, weak, wanting in independence, and a slave to his easilyexcited feelings, he had in his day been a profligate, who in indulging his caprices, desires and passions, had drained the enjoyments of life to the very dregs. And because he found no lasting satisfaction in them, he has withdrawn himself from the world—not having strength or inclination to conceive life from its other and right side—but con tinues to cherish and foster his inclinations, caprices and humours; these, however, have now taken the form of sentimental melancholy, and express themselves more in speeches full of black views of life, than in actions. This melancholy, this contempt of life and men, this senti inental slander and slanderous sentimentality not only please and amuse himself, but he carries them ostentatiously about, and has found a fitting soil for them in the company around the good Duke. In reality he only acts the melancholy misanthrope, the world-despising hermit, he is himself unconscious of the part he is playing, is not conscious that he is wearing a mere mask behind which lie concealed his old love of life, his old caprices, inclinations and sympathies. His observations therefore are in most cases certainly meditative and profound, and he fancies that on their wings he will be able to rise far above the sphere of ordinary mortals; but he is not aware that this meditation when carefully examined is after all very Euperficial in its contradictory one-sidedness. His effemi
* Gervinus, in his moralising tendency burdens even this light creation of Shakspeare's humour (which, as it were, itself plays with its deeply-hiddeu meaning) with a highly important and duli moral. According to him it is self-control, equanimity, and calmness in external suffering and internal passion, the value of which has to be set forth. But it is impossible to discuss such subjects with him, for in fact be is naturally wanting in all sense for what is humorous, fantastic, and rumantic. Shakspeare is dear to him only because he finds his works to contain a solid, historico-political moral, such as he (justly) delights in. But, however riglit he may be in this, he nevertheless overlooks the fact that Shakspeare is a poet as well, and that consequently he delights in what is poetical even in the form of what is humorous, funtastic and romantic. This, in my opinion, is so clearly evident in A8 You Like It, that there is no necessity to give any special refutation of Gervinus' opiniun.
of the whole. Therefore we find a striking contrast to him in Sir Oliver Martext, the very
mbodiment of common prose, who will not suffer anything to lead him from his own text, but in doing this thoroughly perverts the text of true living reality, the ideal, poetical substance of the book of life.
The other characters also are conceived, arranged and grouped in as significant a manner, in as pure a harmony, and in as vivid a contrast. In. Twelfth Night' Viola was the heroine, here we have Rosalinde. In comedies, Shakspeare is especially fond of assigning the principal parts to the female sex. Thus in • The Winter's Tale,' • Love's Labour Lost,' • All's Well That Ends Well,” The Merchant of Venice,' and in “Much Ado About Nothing,' etc. Woman, with her natural tendency to intrigue and equaily great capriciousness, thoughtlessness, and inconsistency is, in fact, particularly suited to be the bearer of the comic action according to his idea of comedy. In the case of Rosalinde, Shakspeare has made the dangerous attempt of embodying humour-the comic in its capriciousness or fancifulness-in the form of a woman, or rather, which is still more venturesome, in that of a girl. Rosalinde possesses all the qualities with which we became acquainted in Viola, except that her nature is freer, gayer, and more frank. It is only at times that mischievous ideas come into Viola's head, otherwise she is absorbed in dreamy, serious and melancholy thoughts. Rosalinde, on the other hand, is absolute mischief, absolute caprice, and exuberance of spirits; she even makes fantastic game of her serious love for Orlando. Her playfulness, however, is not like that of a well-bred princess, but the innate grace and naïveté of a free child of nature, whose very freedom gives her noble and beautiful nature all the charms of genuine good-breeding. She possesses as little practical cleverness as Viola, and in this respect is inferior to Portia, buause described more as a girl than the latter, who, although unmarried, and presented to us in the full bloom of youth, can be imagined only as a mature and complete woman in contrast to the budding girl Rosalinde. However, she is less in need of such cleverness, because, owing to her bold frankness, her gaiety and naïveté, she is not easily em