Title – Sweetest and Happiest comedy of William Shakespeare: “AS YOU LIKE IT”
It is often commented that “As You Like It” is the sweetest and happiest of all Shakespeare’s comedies. No one suffers, no one lives an eager, intense life: there is no tragic interest in it as there is in “The Merchant of Venice” and in “Much Ado About Nothing”. The drama ends doing justice to one and all, the virtuous and rewarded, the separated are united and the vicious are made to regret and repent their follies. The entire atmosphere of the comedy is peace and serenity. In fact “As You Like It” represents the most ideal aspect of Shakespeare’s frame of mind. Furnivall rightly gives the impression that the trio of “Much Ado About Nothing”, “As You Like It”, and “Twelfth Night” is the sweet comedies of the dramatist because all these belong to the period immediately preceding the writings of the great four tragedies of Shakespeare.
The drama, in a swift shift, moves to the open-air atmosphere of the Forest of Arden, which proves to be a very apt background for the idyllic surroundings and theme of the play. Instead of traditional courtly life, the Duke and the princess enjoy the luxury of woodland scenes where the palm trees, the lioness, and the serpents are to be found. The soft breeze, the running brooks, and the silent stones preach sermons which strike the spirit and soul Far From the Madding Crowd the royalty takes a complete break from the clash and clamor, the envy and enmity, the artificial and hollow life in the court. The swing of the tree boughs, the sweet aroma of the gorgeous flora bring boundless joy in the Forest of Arden. It is certainly a mute witness to the overflowing love of two souls. Forgetting of the whole world these love birds experience the thrill of pulsating hearts. In this world, time is measured not by clocks nor by regulations of duty or toil, everything is overwhelmed by fanciful idleness and throbbing of the hearts. The souls thirsty for love, quench themselves being completely oblivious of the boredom of worldly affairs. One throws himself down under the tree and indulges in melancholy reflections in the change of fortunes the falsehood of the world, and the self-created suffering of social life, others make the woods resound with songs. Selfishness and ambition have been left in the city behind and love alone has entered into the wilderness where it teaches the same language to simple shepherd as well as the royal youth.
“As You Like It” is a genuine reflection of the fact that love plays a pictorial role in the existence. The drama is really a play of lovers displaying that failure in love brings disappointment and success happiness. Love dictates the very movement of the plot and it is an account of a principal element that this play is so popular and charming. Then there is a feast of music which is the food of love. The play is embodied with rhythm and harmony of musical utterances of the characters.
The swiftness of the play is heightened by the ever-flowing foundation of wit and humor. Almost all the principal characters in the playland a beauty of their witty remarks. Touchstone and Jaques provide a refreshing repartee. Celia and Rosalind make the play rich by their delicious feast of wit and humour. The last scene of the play is those where Rosalind appears in her sprightly mood. Her humour genial and sympathetic. It relieves the bitterness of the play.
The play ends on a note of joy and happiness. Adversity seems to spoil the cheerfulness of spirit but this is a boon under the garb of misfortune because this squeezes the beat from the key players. Following the dictum of forget and forgive Oliver and the younger Duke repent their follies. Undoubtedly “As You Like It” is the sweetest and the happiest work of Shakespeare’s comic genius.