There is plenty of history to explore and learn more about based on The Revenant by Sonia Gensler. But the book also prominently features one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, As You Like It.
In The Revenant, Willie helps organize a student production of the show. The play is perhaps best known today for the famous monologue that begins,
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It is a comedy that tells the story of Rosalind, who escapes persecution in her uncle’s court in the Forest of Arden — along with her cousin, Celia and the court jester, Touchstone. At the same time, Orlando — a young man very much in love with Rosalind — also must flee to the Forest of Arden, where he frequently (and publicly) declares his love for the lost Rosalind. Meanwhile, Rosalind has disguised herself as a man and befriends Orlando — all the while secretly in love with him as well. Needless to say, the disguises and cross-dressing leads to much confusion as the characters navigate their way towards romance and happiness.
This being a Shakespearean comedy, of course, things do end well … though I won’t spoil the ending here. (Yes, that’s right — you’ve got to read it for yourself!)
Besides relating how As You Like It is featured in The Revenant, the play itself features many themes to explore:
- love & its various manifestations
- pastoral comedy
- religious allegory
- the use of music
And of course, that famous monologue (“All the world’s a stage …”) is full of language and context to explore. Here’s a performance of the monologue by actor Larry Lamb from the BBC:
Want more? You can read As You Like It for free (legally) online!
For the comments: What’s your favorite Shakespearean play & why?