A Satirical Critique of "As You Like It"

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Masked in a portrayal of Orlando


It is easier to recognize Billy Shakespeare as a genius than a perfectionist, and still easier to recognize him as a perfectionist than a sensible man. ‘As you like it’ is a play burdened with more mental incongruities than a clothes salesman at a nudist resort. It is a violent pornography of harmless affection, of kinky pastoral rites pleasuring the aristocratic impotency with orgasmic wit and a sunny, erotic humor.

Orlando, the ostensible protagonist, is a bastard of Shakespeare’s hypocrisy; the whole idea of pastoral literature was somewhat analogous to your monthly edition of Hustler but with a polite, referential index of village life. Shakespeare’s choice of a protagonist is seemingly phallic, by phallic I mean penal, by penal I mean the male reproductive organ. I allude to the fact that the choosing of a protagonist finds itself a bias more inclined to respective testosterone levels than any literary convention. It is impossible to draw a cutthroat comparison or even discover an inflexible comparative degree between Oliver, Touchstone, William, Silvius, Duke Senior, Duke Frederick, Charles, Jaques, Amiens, Adam, Dennis, Corin, and the big-shot, Orlando. It is a latent war of manhoods, and Shakespeare seems to acknowledge character according to necessary allocation and immediate proportion. Orlando either supercedes or overshadows other characters by the virtue of his genitals.

The portrayal of Arden as a place of chancy serendipity and the peremptory gender reversals insinuate of the pervert in Shakespeare. Stationing Orlando as a sexual predator blathering in hot, zesty verses for Rosalind perhaps reveal a more wanton facet of the character. By the importunate eulogizing and mushrooming of one Orlando, we witness the terminal, painful castration of other male characters. Most of Shakespeare’s plays are governed by a code of soft encryption, and when we rupture this code, the play seems fickle, inadequate and almost as irritating as a homosexual. The code in ‘As you like it’ is of idealism, i.e., to develop an ideal protagonist and rape or molest a yarn around him. So observe a few decoded techniques –

In a comic play that derives the comedy from essential pastoral life, Orlando is not a shepherd, i.e., not a source of humor. Secondly, Orlando defeats a likely undefeatable Charles with an intriguing alacrity, thus demeaning Charles and instigating a process of elevation that is cogently earmarked throughout the play. Thirdly, Adam has little to render to the play than to continually deposit Orlando as a great man in dire circumstances. Fourthly, Jaques, though poses as a bright, resplendent character, and when comes decently close to superceding Orlando as a man of a superior intellect, Shakespeare puts the scissors to his crotch and Jaques is imposed upon with a persistent eccentricity that cannot match up to the more perfect airs of Orlando. While Duke Frederick is rendered the malign sector of the play and Duke Senior is too uncomfortably idyllic, other masculine characters like Touchstone, Corin, William, Silvius, Dennis aren’t even adequately potent to match up to Orlando. So, through a covert technique, Shakespeare establishes a personality that lugs the encumbrance of a play that not only lacks action, but obediently subsumes and endorses the aristocratic interpretation of a conventional Pastoral comedy.

write by Jon Brecht


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