What is As You Like It based on?

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What is As You Like It based on?

As You Like It is based on Thomas’s Lodge’s 1590 Rosalynde, which was derived from a poem The Tale of Gamelyn.

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Scholars believe Shakespeare wrote As You Like It in or around the year 1595. The immediate source is a romance called Rosalynde, published in 1590. Rosalynde, in turn, was based on a poem from the middle ages called The Tale of Gamelyn. Some scholars believe that Shakespeare took his title from a line in Lodge’s introduction that says “if you like it, so.”

We can see the loose contours of the previous two sources in As You Like It, which borrows the plot of feuding brothers. In Shakespeare’s case, however, it is the eldest brother who is driven to live in the woods with a group of his followers.

This kind of borrowing from other sources was extremely common and expected in the Renaissance. It is unusual, however, for Shakespeare to focus so tightly on one source, as he does on Rosalynde.

What sets Shakespeare apart from many other playwrights is his ability to add to and very much improve his sources. In this play, for example, he adds the melancholy Jaques, who points to the dark side of this pastoral setting, as well as Touchstone, Amiens, and Audrey. He also cuts out much of the background explanatory matter to focus in a tighter way on the more vital drama of the here and now.

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